Half-Off Ragnarok by Seanan McGuire

Half-Off Ragnarok by Seanan McGuireI remembered my son and husband’s surprise at the change in narrator when I started Half-Off Ragnarok, the third of the InCryptid series. I have to say, while I enjoyed Verity, I identify more with Alex and appreciate his ecological outlook a lot.

This story could have been primarily a cute adventure. It has the humor and the dicey moments overcome. The main focus could also have been on a love story as Alex tries to have a normal relationship and fails, only to have things go so beautifully wrong. It has the elements of that as well. What drew me to the series, though, is its manifesto that people are people regardless of what fear they provoke. He believes actions are the difference between person and monster not appearance, family tree, or potential for violence.

Manifesto might be the wrong word. The story is entertaining and engaging as a tale. This is not some political statement bald and boring at all. Instead, it’s a focus on family, on protection, and on keeping secrets that preserve lives and uncovering those that cost lives.

Alex is a perfect example of a Price child. He wants to understand and see the whole picture even when his life and those of others is at stake. He might make assumptions, but he looks for facts to back them up. Alex neither accuses nor attacks blindly. There are several turning points where he could have struck out in apparent self- and family defense and ended the book right then. Because he didn’t, we got a much more complex and intense story.

Shelby was a delight and an annoyance…in a good way. Her brash personality had every opportunity to become abrasive, but before that could happen, things came to a head (or rather gunpoint) and the world of this series grew another limb. I’m trying to be subtle because it’s a great scene to experience firsthand, but I thought something was off about her even earlier. I put together the clues a smidge before Alex, but like him, I went down the wrong path and enjoyed being proved wrong.

The villain of the piece came close to falling into the trap of the author hiding something for effect. Instead, many of the clues were there except for one critical piece of biology I knew of in other species but it’s so rare as to have slipped my mind. Once I was given that piece though, the seeds from before fell into place all except the identity. Again, I fell into the same trap of assumption as Alex, a good reminder to keep an open–to the point of paranoia–mind when reading these books.

Ultimately, I loved the critique of the word monster from the many angles offered and the story had action, sweet and funny moments, and characters I enjoyed. There was so much going on I didn’t even mention the subplot with Sarah that was intriguing on many levels. A fun and intense read, just what I was looking for.

P.S. I own the paperback but received the eBook through NetGalley as part of the Hugo packet, but only found time to read it now.

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