Half-Off Ragnarok by Seanan McGuire
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I won a copy of this book in a Goodreads First Reads giveaway. I was not compensated in any way for my review.
Can we just clone Seanan McGuire? Please? Because I want more InCryptid. I also want more October Daye. And sequels to Indexing. And more Mira Grant tales of science gone wrong. And short stories she keeps posting on her website. And I want her to be able to sleep and go to the Disney parks, because really, anyone who brings so much joy into the urban fantasy world deserves nice things. I'm not totally greedy.
It's not like she slacks off. Half-Off Ragnarok, which I was lucky enough to get as an ARC and will be buying in paperback when it comes out, is released on March 4. Sparrow Hill Road, which is in the InCryptid universe but addresses another aspect entirely, is due May 6. The Winter Long, Toby Daye's eighth book, is out in September. Symbiont is scheduled for a November release. I can't imagine the kind of productivity that lends itself to that release schedule.
But about Half-Off Ragnarok. This is the third InCryptid book, and the first to be narrated by Alexander Price, the oldest of the Price siblings and the only son. He's come to Ohio to mate a pair of basilisks, and, for his day job, works with reptiles at the zoo. He's dating Dr. Shelby Tanner, an Australian biologist who works with the big cats. He lives with his grandparents, on the Baker side of the family. He helps take care of his cousin, Sarah Zellaby, who's recovering from the events of Midnight Blue-Light Special.
Alex's busy life doesn't lend itself to much socialization. Or sleep, for that matter. Shelby is put off by his dozens of excuses about why he can't spend time with her, and seems on the verge of ending things. Then Alex finds the partially petrified corpse of one of his employees. He has to investigate which creature did it before the Covenant of St. George hears about it, without neglecting Shelby, pissing off the local gorgon population, or getting turned to stone, himself.
I did miss Verity, who makes a short cameo in a phone call, but Alex proves himself worthy of carrying this book on his own. The shift in perspective allows Alex to tell us things about the family Verity didn't find important or that didn't come up. We meet another colony of Aeslin mice, who are just as adorable as Verity's. We learn that, though they regard Alex as a deity (the God of Scales and Silence), he gets no additional perks from the position. He has to bribe the mice for privacy and participate in rituals just as Verity does.
We also see more aspects of the InCryptid world. Alex's focus is on non-sapient cryptids, so he can't reason with or threaten critters running amok. He has to trust his judgment on which ones are beyond redemption, and live with the consequences, whatever his decision. His focus is more on the biology than anthropology aspect.
Despite the shift in perspective, the tone of the series remains consistent. There's still lots of humor and levity, and I suspect the author had way too much fun writing Sarah's cryptic dialogue. It's not overdone, but it sure is random. The snark is perfectly intact, with plenty of snicker-worthy lines. Sarcasm appears to be genetic in the InCryptid universe.
I enjoyed this installment quite a lot, and will be eagerly awaiting the next. On the one hand, it's a whole year. On the other, it's only a year. There will be plenty of other books to read in the meantime.
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