Discount Armageddon by Seanan McGuire
Verity Price is a Cryptozoologist, someone who studies Cryptids (the things that science has yet to put a finger on), who moonlights in her cover identity as a competitive dancer. Her family broke away from the Covenant, and organization bent on wiping out the cryptids, a few generations back and has been studying and protecting them as best they can. This caused a bit of a vicious blood feud between the Covenant and Price family. Hence Verity’s cover identity- it wouldn’t do for a Covenant member to pin down her location.
Except one has. There is a Covenant member in her city, and Cryptid girls going missing. They must be connected.
I opened this book knowing I adore the author, all of her incarnations- from her music to Mira Grant. So I knew I was going to at least enjoy the read. Reading it at the same time as my partner added another level of enjoyment. We weren’t directly competing for page count, but at I got to use the phrase “Have you gotten to the waheela yet?” and chortle uncontrollably at his blank stare.
So I opened the cover and settled down knowing I was going to like what I saw, and I was not disappointed. Very is a fun character- simple as that. There is a wonderful lack of angst and emo to this urban fantasy chick. She is more concerned with the ass kicking and dealing with the loyal Cryptid mouse cult that has infested her apartment.
The first InCryptid offering is not as deep as, say, the Toby Daye books or her work as Mira Grant, but sometimes I want nothing more than I book I can just simply like reading, cover to cover. It is an excellent world build with some fascinating characters and dialog only Seanan could pull off. I laughed, I guffawed, I snorted various beverages ingested at poorly thought out intervals. All in all, it was a splendid good time. I will merrily say I had a blast and wait for the next book.
This is an unusual post, as it is not a proper review by any means. But, as I was lounging this evening with warm beverage and a copy of Who Fears Death, I was struck again by how simply special Ms. Okorafor’s writing is. There is something starkly beautiful about her prose, about the stories she weaves with it. So many books promise a strange and wondrous locale, but few bring along with them characters that are so much a part of their environment. And that is part of the magic for me. I am sometimes thrown off by books that go to great lengths to describe some place new and strange, I get distracted.
With Ms. Okorafor’s work, the place and the people are woven so tightly together that one cannot pay attention to one without noticing the other. It is part of what keeps me so enthralled. The strange and fascinating are described in ways that are so down to earth and mundane, because the reader is getting it all from the characters. There is no being pulled from the prose. And everything is all the more captivating as a result.
And the characters are truly wonderful. There is a vibrancy to them that is a rare find. I could spend time with these people- share thoughts, ideas, stories. I would consider myself lucky to do so.
There are no promises that everything will be okay, no easy win or way out. But there is the assurance that this too can be overcome- grit your teeth, gather your resources, and carry on. I gather those reassuring whispers close to me long after I have closed the book and have started the process of muddling through the day to day business of being an adult.
Her writing just strikes me as so very important. I want more people to read it, both the adult and the young adult, and all the short stories in between. There is something so very essential in there, and I applaud Ms. Okorafor for capturing something to tenuous and giving it shape.
Of Blood and Honey by Stina Leicht
Liam has a talent for being at the wrong place at the wrong time, and in Ireland during the Troubles this can be a fatal affliction. Having done his time for crimes he did not commit, Liam is finally driven to taking a political stance by being unwilling to take anymore. He volunteers with the IRA to get a job to support his new wife and to gain some measure of control over his life.
But Liam has never met his birth father, and it seems the man left him more than anyone could have imagined. Something dark and violent lurks within Liam, something the IRA is happy to have, but something that no one, least of all Liam, is able to consistently control.
Of Blood and Honey is historical fiction at its finest, taking into account the rich myth of Ireland and weaving in just enough of that magic to turn the book to please fantasy fans. It is a painful, loving tribute to those who struggled through the worst part of the Troubles. It is a book about family, in all of its permutations.
Liam struggles through conflicts with his stepfather, his wife, the priest who has all but raised him, the family he finds in the other Volunteers, and learning the truth of his birth father and the lineage that was kept secret from him. It is often a violent book, set during a violent time, and the wonder is the little joys and loves the characters find along the way.
And in the background of it all, a secret Order of the Church is engaging in a war with the Fallen, which followed them to Ireland. But their world view does not allow for the acceptance of Ireland’s Fey creatures as entities apart from the Fallen of their religion, and Liam has been in precarious position since the moment he was born, and has never been aware of it.