Half-Off Ragnarok by Seanan McGuire
“When Alex Price agreed to go to Ohio to oversee a basilisk breeding program and assist in the recovery of his psychic cousin, he didn’t expect people to start dropping dead. But bodies are cropping up at the zoo where he works, and his girlfriend—Shelby Tanner, an Australian zoologist with a fondness for big cats—is starting to get suspicious.
Worse yet, the bodies have all been turned partially to stone…
The third book in the InCryptid series takes us to a new location and a new member of the family, as Alex tries to balance life, work, and the strong desire not to become a piece of garden statuary. Old friends and new are on the scene, and danger lurks around every corner.
Of course, so do the talking mice.”
ALL HAIL THE AUTHORIAL PRIESTESS! Sorry, I couldn’t resist. I do so love me those Aeslin mice. And it’s the mice that really represent what I love about this series and about McGuire’s writing in general: quirky and original and not something you’re going to find in just any old book. The author most definitely has her own voice and style and she’s not afraid to use it.
This book departs a bit from the previous two in that it doesn’t focus on Verity, moving instead to her brother Alex. While I’ll miss all the ballroom dancing references, I found myself warming up to Alex and his work at a zoo’s reptile house. His specialization is non-sentient cryptids like basilisks, so his story is less about diplomatic situations and more about being a caretaker to the hidden species of our world. Or at least, it starts that way.
Just because he works with reptiles doesn’t mean that those species can’t talk back. The gorgons are a large presence in this book, and there’s even one working with Alex at the zoo. I continue to like how McGuire delves into mythology for her creatures, and yet she puts her own touches to the different non-human characters and how they live and interact with humans and each other.
Readers even get glimpses of an organization out of Australia that is sort of like the Healy-Price clan, one that might be good allies with Alex and his family down the road. There’s little to no Covenant presence in this book, but I’m kind of glad, because that might have muddied the waters with too many rival organizations. Getting a look at the wider world of those who know about the cryptids is something that I was hoping for and was very happy to see.
As usual, I absolutely adored McGuire’s storytelling and humor. And of course, the Aeslin mice. Half-Off Ragnarok is one of the most enjoyable novels debuting this month and I’ll continue preaching the gospel of cheese and cake to anyone who will listen.
This review was originally published on March 19, 2014.
This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
(Description nicked from B&N.com.)