Title: Discount Armageddon
Author: Seanan McGuire
Publisher: Daw (US)
Release date: March 2012
Genre: Urban fantasy
Source: Bought at my local indie fantasy book store (Transreal Fiction, Edinburgh)
Description from back cover: Cryptid, noun: Any creature whose existence has not yet been proven by science. See also "monster".
Cryptozoologist, noun: Any person who thinks hunting for cryptids is a good idea. See also "idiot".
Ghoulies. Ghosties. Long-legged beasties. Things that go bump in the night... and that's just the beginning. The Price family has spent generations studying the monsters of the world, working to protect them from humanity - and to protect 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. To complicate matters further, local cryptids are disappearing, strange lizard-men are appearing in the sewers, and someone's spreading rumours about a dragon sleeping underneath the city...
A lifetime of training isn't enough to prepare Verity for what's ahead - especially not for Dominic De Luca, the Covenant's newest operative. When a Price girl meets a Covenant boy, high stakes, high heels, and a lot of collateral damage are almost guaranteed.
My thoughts: I was introduced to Seanan McGuire's writing shortly after her first book, Rosemary and Rue, was published, and I've looked forward to each new book ever since. I've yet to be let down by one of her books, so I was really excited for her new series, which starts with Discount Armageddon.
Verity's family has a long history working as cryptozoologists, mainly trying to protect supernatural creatures from humans, and from the Covenant of St George, who think the only good cryptid is a dead one. Verity is taking a gap year of sorts, to live in a city (*gasps from her family*) and pursue a career ballroom dancing. Previously, she entered a So-You-Think-You-Can-Dance type show and did very well, but because her family are hiding from the Covenant, she had to do so under a false name, which she now uses for dance auditions in New York. To make ends meet, she works in a bar owned by a cryptid, Dave, and lives in a tiny apartment with creatures called 'Aeslin Mice'. The mice are rather adorable - just like normal mice, but they talk, and have festivals and religious celebrations for everything. Verity first meets Dominic De Luca as she's free-running home from work over the rooftops of New York and ends up hanging upside down from a trap he'd set. From there, it starts getting harder for Verity to keep her two lives of dancing and cryptozoology separate, getting pulled into problems about dragons that she would rather stay away from. While she and Dominic try to keep from killing each other, they must hunt around and under the city to find the truth of the rumours and find out what's happening to the disappearing locals.
Discount Armageddon is a really fun read. I was very quickly pulled into Verity's world, and I loved each new cryptid she met. I can't wait to see more of the world in the following books. I like how Dominic and Verity both have a lot of prejudices about each other which they gradually manage to overcome, and I hope later books will show a little more of their fledgling friendship.
The second book, Midnight Blue Light, is scheduled for March 2013, and if you can't wait that long, there are some short stories about Verity's predecessors available on Seanan McGuire's website, here, as well as field guide to some of the cryptids.
I'm giving this 9 out of 10, and I'm really looking forward to book two in the InCryptid series.