1. Any creature whose existence has been suggested but not proven scientifically. Term officially coined by cryptozoologist John E. Wall in 1983.
2. That thing that's getting ready to eat your head.
3. See also: "monster."
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 when her work with the cryptid community took her to Manhattan, she thought she would finally be free to pursue competition-level dance in earnest. It didn't quite work out that way...
But now, with the snake cult that was killing virgins all over Manhattan finally taken care of, Verity is ready to settle down for some serious ballroom dancing - until her on-again, off-again, semi-boyfriend Dominic De Luca, a member of the monster-hunting Covenant of St. George, informs her that the Covenant is on their way to assess the city's readiness for a cryptid purge. With everything and everyone she loves on the line, there's no way Verity can take that lying down.
Alliances will be tested, allies will be questioned, lives will be lost, and the talking mice in Verity's apartment will immortalize everything as holy writ - assuming there's anyone left standing when all is said and done. It's a midnight blue-light special, and the sale of the day is on betrayal, deceit...and carnage.
©2013 Seanan McGuire (P)2013 Audible, Inc.
The text is engaging, well-paced, and written with a wry sense of humor I find amusing and endearing. Major plot points are predictable (yes, of course those two will end up together, since all literary convention says they must; likewise, they will end up embroiled in misunderstandings and cross-purposes, because that's the trope-in-play) but to an extent that destroys dramatic tension or surprise. The fact that I made it to the second in the series despite the marred narration speaks highly of it; there's sharp competition for my audiobook budget.
The narration, on the other hand, is the reason I'm bothering to write a review.
The narrator's "voices" for each character are generally distinct and recognizable; however, many of the accents used are awkward and artificial-sounding, which ultimately detracts from the story.
Internal and external commentary by the main character are not distinguishable from each other, leaving me too often to wonder if Verity actually said that snarky/cruel/too-revealing thing out loud, or merely thought it. In a plot in which so much pivots on how much each side of a war knows about the other, waiting for other characters' replies to resolve my uncertainty doesn't work; did they not respond to that comment divulging secret information because it was merely something Verity thought, or did the other character simply conceal their reaction to avoid alerting her that she's given away something valuable?
Naturally, this confusion is amplified in a story in which some conversations take place telepathically and thus hidden from other characters in the same room. Did Verity say that out loud where Dominic could hear it, too, so that it goes on my list of "things Dominic could use against Verity if he turns against her", or did she say it mentally so only her cousin the telepath could hear and reply?
It only gets worse when the telepathic cousin sends Verity telepathic messages that Verity responds to verbally. These things are very distinct in the text, where italics are used as a clear visual cue to distinguish things said mentally. The use of a stage whisper (for example) in the narration would have the same effect.
While overall I didn't have to expend much mental energy trying to figure out who was talking, I did end up spending a considerable amount trying to sort out who could actually hear the speaker, something that bears more than usual significance in the plot.
The narrator needs to spend more time practicing certain words. As someone commented in a review of the first InCryptid book, her pronunciation of "Antimony" and "gorgon" are distracting. However, in this second book in the series, her inability to pronounce certain words would have left me utterly baffled if I hadn't had the Kindle text to refer to.
* "apothecary" became "apocethary" -- distracting but decipherable
* "psionic" became "pie-scenic" -- incomprehensible
* "grimoire" became "grimmery" -- confusing and mildly misleading, since "grammarie" is a word in its own right with a different meaning; however, "gramarye" does eventually lead back to the meaning "grimoire" if one is sufficiently familiar with archaic/genre terms.
These are uncommon enough words that their mispronunciation in a general-literature work might not be too awful, but in a genre and a story in which they refer to central concepts, it seems inexcusable not to have taken the time to learn to pronounce them properly. "He thinks he's pie-scenic" encountered in a Chuck Palahniuk novel would still convey "he's delusional" adequately, but listing "pie-scenic powers" as a thing one might have wards against in a fantasy novel does not help the listener understand how such wards might crucially affect the plot.
The narrator should realize that her own unfamiliarity with these words does not make them made-up words with no need for the reader to identify them; these words have real definitions and are used in certain genres -- including this one -- according to conventions and connotations that make them an informative part of the text. By treating them as made-up words that don't require accurate identification, the narrator is robbing the listener of the real information these words carry.
("Antimony" is still consistently "AAN-tee-MOW-nee" -- a correct US pronunciation -- instead of the British "AN-tih-muh-nee", which seems like a minor difference but really makes the name sound awkward. This one might be understandable as an attempted contrast with "antinomy" (antimony is a chemical element; antinomy is a paradox pronounced "an-TIN-oh-MEE") but the narrator's other bungled words lead me to doubt she put that much thought into choosing this less-melodic pronunciation. It's technically correct, but with all the words she pronounces badly or incorrectly, I wish she'd just extended the mangling another inch to using a proper but British pronunciation here.)
Additionally, words and entire lines of text are left out in the narration every couple of chapters, not as abridgments but as clear mistakes that sometimes gut a sentence of meaning. I suspected this was happening in the first book, but didn't have the text to check against. If I'm going to have to buy the text as well as the narration in order to find out what the author actually wrote, I might as well just buy the Kindle book and skip the audio version altogether.
I loved the first InCryptid book so as soon as this one came out I got it. I love the mice and the relationship between Dominic and Verity gets more in depth. However, there were a few things that bugged me in this book. First, the story changes POV halfway through, going from Verity to Sarah and back to Verity. I can understand the reasons why the author might want to do this, but I didn't like it. I also had some problems with how it ended. It just seemed a bit unrealistic. Still, I'm waiting to see what happens next.
I like happy endings and realism that is realistic rather than gritty.
There is so much in this book that I like, and so much that bugs me.
Seanan McGuire presents an urban fantasy world and characters that are new, fun, and engaging. I especially love the supporting cast--the scary ones, the adorable ones, and the adorably scary ones.
The story elements are all there... but...
The melodrama. McGuire raises the stakes by having her first-person narrator over-react to plot elements. It's a common writing strategy--when our main character is worried, we as readers are expected to also become worried--but that writing strategy fails horribly when the character is freaking out about things that do not merit freaking out. (We're talking, the heroine successfully takes out horrible monsters, then launches into melodramatic, fatalistic monologues because a much less scary and less horrible monster might show up). If this is really an emergency, if this situation truly merits melodrama and fatalism, I as a reader need to be convinced of that much more thoroughly than McGuire managed.
The plot in book 2 is much simpler than in book 1, which would not be a problem, except that plot twists are replaced by fake tension and melodrama. Also, at least 5 times in the course of the book, our smart, savvy, trained-from-babyhood heroine makes the same stupid mistake. This isn't a theme in the book--it's not like the character's error is highlighted as a fatal flaw. No, the main character makes stupid, uncharacteristic mistakes, presumably whenever the writer needs a way to raise the stakes.
There's also this whole recognizing-long-lost relatives by sight thing in the book that I found completely unbelievable...I even stopped listening to do research, and math, on how ridiculous the idea in the book was. I could rant, but I'll restrain myself.
When book 3 comes out, I'll probably save my credit and look for the book at my local library.
The narrator's voice was too high-pitched for me. I would have enjoyed a deeper voice for sure. I also thought the writing was a bit amateurish.
Brush up on writing skills.
Choose a narrator that doesn't sound like a chipmunk on helium.
I only listened for 30 minutes.
The main character and storyline seemed like it could be fun. The voice, not the acting, of the narrator ruined this for me.
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