I often try to read something written by the guests of honor at BayCon before I go. Sometimes that merely ends up in adding to the to-be-read pile (which already had a different Seanan McGuire), but this time I managed to read the first InCryptid novel. Discount Armageddon is a wonderful urban fantasy with a sarcastic, funny, and self-aware female lead, Verity Price, and a determined—if misguided—male lead, Dominic De Luca.
Dominic has been raised to believe all cryptids are evil beings out to exterminate the human race. He has some rather good reasons for this historically, but the secret organization that raised him, the Covenant, refuses to believe times change and not all cryptids are the same. This causes a good bit of tension between them because the Price family believes sapient cryptids are, well, people with all the complexity that entails. They also understand about acting within one’s nature and will give the cryptids they find harming humans a chance to mend their ways. It’s all about balance.
Between the family history revealed throughout the novel and the clear sexual/emotional tension flaring up whenever those two are near, it’s not surprising there’s a bit of a love story tangled up into what is a wild adventure.
Add in an adopted cousin telepath who really would prefer she wasn’t able to hear their thoughts, a boogeyman boss who goes with the money, a snobbish dragon princess, and a great many other cryptids of various types, most who would prefer to be left alone to make their way in the world, and you have a fun read.
I enjoyed the way Verity acts the cryptozoologist as she’s been trained, making note of new discoveries as she attempts to save her city from Dominic’s upbringing only to learn there’s a bigger threat that requires they work together. It’s a scientific approach that allows for the explanation of all these creatures while offering a delightful mix of science and mythology.
This is not a particularly deep novel, and if you think too hard some aspects of the plot become a little too pat, but it is definitely entertaining while exposing a morality I can appreciate.
Oh, and on top of all this, she’s trying to be a professional ballroom dancer. It’s great for the stamina and muscles she needs when fighting for her life, but the same cannot be said for the effect her family’s calling has on her dance. Verity uses her dance skills from keeping the beat to sheer athleticism to survive. However, her preferred career is unlikely to get off the ground when she spends all the time off work chasing down monsters both to protect and capture them, a purpose that intrudes on her competitions a bit more than through bruises and wounds.
Discount Armageddon fills the niche where urban fantasy took the sass of chicklit, the creatures of fantasy, and the non-stop action of men’s adventure then tosses in a little Romeo and Juliet romance. More than that, it does all those elements well then raises the bar with a scientific approach and grand imagination that both draws on myth and tosses in innovation with an even hand.