Once upon a time I reviewed the first book in the InCrytpid series, Discount Armageddon. I liked it, though it seemed like the kind of series where the romance aspect would drag on in an unresolved way for many, many books, which always irritates me.
But behold, in Book Two, Midnight Blue-Light Special, Verity and Dominic actually get to have a complete story arc!
The next books are going to be about Verity’s brother, which means Verity can show up a lot in future books, but she also had a complete story with an actual, satisfying, though slightly open-ended conclusion! As the Aeslin mice would say, “HAIL THE ENDING!”
The InCryptid series is a solid, fun urban fantasy series, set in New York City, with a strong romantic element. Verity Price is from a family of cryptidzoologists. That translates as monster-studiers. The Price family assists cryptids who need help, and battles ones that are predators (unless they are sentient and willing to abide by certain rules of engagement). Verity struggles to balance her family obligations as a cryptidzoologist with her dream of being a professional ballroom dancer. The first book did a great job of showing how Verity used dancing as a way to train and prepare for the kinds of things she has to do in the family line of work – she made it seem practical rather than ridiculous, while fully owning the glorious excess of ballroom dance.
The Price family used to be members of the Covenant, but they split off many generations ago. The Covenant believes all Cryptids are monsters who need to be killed. Naturally, Verity struck up a romance with a Covenant member, Dominic, because in this kind of book it is imperative that you flirt with your mortal enemy. In Midnight, Dominic warns Verity that the Covenant is coming to New York to purge it of cryptids. Verity is unsure of where Dominic’s loyalties lie. The majority of the book involves Verity trying to figure out how to stop the Covenant.
I recommend starting with the first book, Discount Armageddon, but there’s plenty of exposition in Midnight Blue-Light to catch you up should you decide to jump in here. I think Midnight is a stronger book – it’s just as fun as the first one, but more complex. In this book, everyone grows up a lot. Verity and Dominic don’t get a whole series to decide where their paths lie – they have to step up, now, and permanently. The book is funny, but also genuinely tense and often quite dark. When Verity has to make an escape sans clothing, it’s not erotic – it’s desperate. But things never get too dark, what with Istas (a waheela) saying things like, “Hm. I will extend my protection to you in exchange for cookies”.
Istas is one of many supporting characters you’ll enjoy. Uncle Mike is heavily armed and likes to cook. The Aeslin Mice live with Verity and worship her as a priestess and have daily festivals (HAIL!) Kitty, Verity’s boss, is a bogeyman who wears fuzzy Elmo slippers and Super Grover Pajamas. Can we just take a moment to ponder this question: where can I get Super Grover pajamas? I need them! I need them now! And by far the best character element, possibly of all time, is that Istas’ interests include glitter, petticoats and parasols, impractical shoes, and carnage.
What does a waheela eat, you ask, besides cookies?
“I eat all types of human food, although I am very fond of pizza and chicken wings. They’re crunchy…I am also fond of alley cats, small dogs, and urban rodents. I make an excellent rat casserole. Ryan says I am a natural. Would you like me to prepare dinner?”
Of all the elements in this series, the romance is the weakest. This is fair, because it doesn’t present itself as a romance series – it’s urban fantasy, with a romance plot line. We never get Dominic’s point of view, and he’s not a great communicator, so it’s hard to bond with him as a reader, even though his character is certainly admirable and interesting. Dominic is faced with rejecting his entire family, all his friends, and the way of life he’s been trained to follow since birth, and his pain is very clear. However, I can’t say that I lost a lot of sleep worrying about whether or not Verity and Dominic will be together. By the end of the book, they’ve gotten to a point where they are committed to trying for a relationship and have some breathing space to concentrate on developing one. I’d say my reaction to their HEA was one of satisfaction, but not swooning with bliss.
I had so much fun with this book. If you are into urban fantasy with just a touch of romance, and you want something a little lighter than the frequent angst ridden fare, you’ll love this (and there’s still plenty of angst to throw around, believe me). If you want darker urban fantasy, try McGuire’s October Daye series. And of course McGuire’s zombie trilogy, written under the name Mira Grant, is superlative (The Newsflesh Trilogy).