Book Review

Midnight Blue-Light Special, by Seanan McGuire


Title: Midnight Blue-Light Special
Author: Seanan McGuire
Publication Info: DAW 2013
ISBN: 978-0-7564-0792-6
Genre: Urban Fantasy

Book Midnight Blue-Light Special 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).

Comments are Closed

  1. 1

    “Hail the ending” had me laughing. So true.

    I thoroughly enjoyed these two books and am looking forward to Alex’s story—all the more so since the blurb says his girlfriend is Aussie. We Aussies have lots of cool cryptids, so I’m hoping some of them make an appearance. Yowie, anyone?

  2. 2
    Barb in Maryland says:

    All Hail the Aeslin Mice!  They were, by far, my favorite characters.  And I am glad we got to see their serious side in the big finale.
    I am in awe of McGuire’s range.  I had read all of her Toby Daye series and ‘Feed’; I doubted her ability to pull of comedy—but she nailed it!  I am so looking forward to Alex’s book.

  3. 3
    Darlynne says:

    I agree wholeheartedly with your review, CarrieS, and have enjoyed everything about these books, particularly the mice. And the juxtaposition of ballroom dancing with protecting other species. And Istas. And a bunch of other things.

    Even though we don’t get Dominic’s POV, I still felt as though I had an understanding of his feelings and conflicts. Certainly his and Verity’s path seems to nearly mirror her (great?) grandparents’ lives, although she didn’t have to capture and kidnap him. Now that would be another avenue to explore in the series, a prequel about how the Prices ended up where they have.

    Great review. Thanks.

    Section49: Just two sections away from area 51.

  4. 4
    Tam says:

    I just re-read the first one of these (can I just say that I HATE these covers, especially the first book?) and enjoyed it more the second time around.  I do like Dominic as a hero, although not as much as I really, truly love Tybalt from the Toby Daye series.  (I will say that I don’t think the latter series really took off until the third book – like the Harry Dresden books, you have to hang in there for the real rewards.)

  5. 5
    MissB2U says:

    I LOVE these books; he mice, Istas, and the quotes that begin each chapter. Both books are really fun reads and a great change of pace.  Nice review Carrie S.

  6. 6
    Redheadedgirl says:

    I love these books so much.  Seanan granted me the title of Priestess of Totally Expected Violence (and Sometimes Cookies). 

    We talked about the Incryptid series a lot on my podcast we did with Seanan, and she talks about the cover art and how hard she lobbied for them.

  7. 7
    Sybylla18 says:

    I love love love Seanan McGuire!  If you haven’t read it, I strongly recommend Velveteen vs. the Junior Super-Patriots (the sequel, Velveteen vs. the Multiverse should be out any day now).  Imagine a world where superheroes are real.  Now imagine the PR they would need in order to be popularly considered heroes and not overpowered oh-my-god-kill-them-all scary beings.  Now imagine a young woman who decided she was no longer willing to live her life according to the dictates of Marketing.

    I’m not selling it well, but it’s really really awesome.

  8. 8
    chacha1 says:

    Okay, I’m gonna have to read these now.  The urban-fantasy thing got cracked open for me by Ben Aaronovitch, and anything that takes ballroom dancing seriously is a must-read.

    (foxtrot is my superpower)

    also42 … no, actually, almost48

  9. 9
    Joy says:

    I got each of these books from the library and enjoyed them very much.  And YES the Aeslin Mice of my favorite character(s).  The waheela and other cryptid characters brought a real touch of whimsey to the books.

    Now for my complaint.  I decided to buy Discount Armageddon so I could re-read it on my Kindle (and, frankly, to support authors I enjoy with my cash!).  Seconds later Amazon had sent my copy.  Sigh!  there was something off about the formatting.  A few pages into it I was so annoyed and disappointed that I returned it to Amazon.  This was not a 99 cent cheapy but from Daw.  I expected better quality from a major publisher than wierd spacings and such.  This book has been out a while.  Couldn’t they have fixed it by now?
    Like CarrieS I liked Midnight Blue Light Special even more than the first book.  But hey it costs more than the one I just returned so maybe I’ll wait a while and see if someone clues in Daw that if we pay good money we expect a minimum standard of quality.  I feel sorry for the author McGuire who writes very creative urban fantasy.  She does her work, now her publisher needs to do theirs.

  10. 10

    Love, love, love these books! The mice are amazing, and I’m catching up now on the various short stories floating around that cover some of the family history. I’m really looking forward to the next novel in the series.

    I thought the romance was strong enough that it didn’t get lost in the shuffle of violence. I went back and re-read most of Discount and appreciated all over again how conflicted Dominic is.

    Great characters, solid writing, it’s a series well worth recommending.

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