“Discount Armageddon” by Seanan McGuire (DAW, 2012)

Discount Armageddon
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It has been readily agreed by most fans that Buffy the Vampire Slayer needed to end in season 7 when it did, but it has still been greatly missed.  The comic books from Dark Horse have done a little to fill this empty void, but thankfully Seanan McGuire, bestselling author of the October Daye books, has a new series with a new character that feels much like a new incarnation of Buffy, except less with the superpowers and more with the weapons and kickass fighting skills.

In this world every ghost, ghoul and monster you’ve read about since you were a kid exists; a number of them look almost human, or can make themselves look presentable in everyday society.  They’ve been around for a long time, and sometimes they overstep their boundaries and enjoy the taste of some human flesh.  There are two groups in the world that exist to control and police these cryptids: one is the Covenant, a religious group that has been around for centuries and sees the cryptids as a scorn upon the earth to be killed and got rid of, whether they be succubus, boogie man, or dragon (but dragons haven’t been around for hundreds of years); the other is the Price family.

The Price family have also been around for quite a while, and they’re the good guys who separated from the Covenant a long time ago because they had this crazy notion that some cryptids deserve not to be hunted to extinction.  There was also some inter-marrying going on.  Enter our heroine, Verity Price who enjoys spending her free time running and base jumping along the rooftops of New York, checking on the local cryptids and making sure they’re staying in line.  She earns some okay money and decent tips at Fish and Chicks, a local strip club, where she waitresses only, even though her boss — a bogey man — would love to have her do more; hence Verity’s choice uniform on the cover of the book.  Verity also happens to be a talented ballroom dancer, which keeps her in shape and her martial arts skills honed, making her made up dancing persona quite the celebrity in the ballroom dancing circles.

Things begin to get pretty crazy when a young, muscular and surprisingly attractive Covenant member shows up to start purging the city and Verity keeps running into him and seriously falling for him.  Then cryptids start disappearing and it seems like there might be something really big under Manhattan either killing them or making them get the hell out of town; plus there’s some strange snake cult looking for virgins.  And then she has this large nest of Aeslin mice living with her, celebrating all manner of weird mice-sized festivals.

Discount Armageddon at first feels a lot like a combination of the October Daye series and McGuire’s other Newsflesh series under her Mira Grant pseudonym, as the first person perspective makes it seem like the reader is enjoying one of those books just with different details.  But by halfway through the book, Verity Price establishes herself as a strong independent protagonist, part of a tough and interesting family, and the world is complex and fully established, with a cornucopia of cryptid species that each have their own established and researched pedigree.  By the end of the first book in the Cryptid series, readers will be thoroughly hooked and checking out the cryptid glossary at the end of the book and wanting more cryptid crunchy goodness.

Originally written on December 30, 2011 ©Alex C. Telander.

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