Discount Armageddon by Seanan McGuire
Synopsis from GoodReads:
Ghoulies. Ghosties. Long-legged beasties. Things that go bump in the night… The Price family has spent generations studying the monsters of the world, working to protect them from humanity—and humanity from them. Enter Verity Price. Despite being trained from birth as a cryptozoologist, she’d rather dance a tango than tangle with a demon, and is spending a year in Manhattan while she pursues her career in professional ballroom dance. Sounds pretty simple, right? It would be, if it weren’t for the talking mice, the telepathic mathematicians, the asbestos supermodels, and the trained monster-hunter sent by the Price family’s old enemies, the Covenant of St. George. When a Price girl meets a Covenant boy, high stakes, high heels, and a lot of collateral damage are almost guaranteed. To complicate matters further, local cryptids are disappearing, strange lizard-men are appearing in the sewers, and someone’s spreading rumors about a dragon sleeping underneath the city…
I just love opening up books to find surprise first person narrators. Especially after the prologue is in third person. For some reason, however, urban fantasy first person pov tends to bother me the least of every kind of first person narrator. I think because usually the world is interesting enough, but possibly also because a lot of urban fantasy protagonists are similar: the women tend to be sarcastic tough-talking loner types with Troubled Pasts and multiple love interests despite claiming to not be pretty while the men tend to be… kind of the same, actually, except substitute handsome for pretty. This isn’t to say that this is always the case, however.
Verity Price fits all of the above except for the fact that she’s not a loner and doesn’t (yet) have multiple love interests. She’s not a cookie cutter, thankfully, but that’s mostly because of her insistence on getting out of the family business and into a career as a professional ballroom dancer. Her series also has a lot of humor in it, thanks to both Verity herself and the talking mice who live with her. That’s right, talking mice. With religious tendencies in the direction of ‘if it happened, celebrate it’. In case you can’t tell, they were probably my favorite part.
I have to give McGuire props for her world, too. The cryptids (this ‘verse’s version of monsters/things-that-go-bump-in-the-night) are fascinating, both in the way they resemble more familiar myths and in the way they deviate from them. I have to admit, while I did see some of the dragon princess twists coming, I definitely didn’t see all of them.
I love how much effort McGuire put into developing the cryptids, their societies, and their ecological niches/development. Plus the Healy-Price family history, the Covenant history, and how both of those intersect and interact with everything out there, from cryptids to alternate dimensions to the Christian version of Hell.
I have some minor quibbles with the way that Dominic seems to waffle back and forth on certain issues, but I can put that down to youth, inexperience, and suddenly being shown a whole new world, to quote Aladdin. It would help if we had seen his thoughts, I think, bu that’s not likely to happen since this is first-person Verity, and I’m okay with that. I also appreciate that Verity seems to be the more capable of the two – or at least able to hold her own against her LI – and that he’s not an abusive asshole – just a raging speciesist who’s actually trying to get better about that.
Overall, fans of urban fantasy will probably like this book, and I certainly plan to keep reading the series. Plus there were a bunch of laugh out loud moments, and I always appreciate that in my fiction.
4 out of 5 stars.