When I started Fox Spirit Books, I officially stepped down from reviewing. I sent polite emails to everyone explaining that I no longer had the time and could not go on accepting books knowing that I would not have chance to review them. Occasionally I have to resend due to staff changes.
There was one exception. I never sent such an email to DAW. The thing is DAW have only ever sent me books for one of their writers, a certain Seanan McGuire. Add to that, the fact that Seanan is one of those rare writers whose books I turn to when ‘I can’t find anything to read’ (in a house full of read, re read and many as yet unread books). It doesn’t matter how restless I am, or what mood I am in a new Seanan McGuire book will always hit the mark.
As such I make an exception. So here is a review.
Half Off Ragnarok is the third in the Price family cryptozoology series which kicked off with Discount Armageddon. It picks up after the events that left Verity dating a member of the covenant and her cuckoo cousin Sarah badly mentally damaged from saving Verity’s life.
The third book moves location and focus, picking up with Alex Price, Verity’s brother who is working in a reptile house at a zoo and tracking the population decline of amphibians in the area. His work is disrupted by a death at the zoo. Something is turning people to stone and Alex really doesn’t want to believe it’s the local Gorgon community.
Taking a different character POV for the book works brilliantly, not only in keeping the series fresh and interesting, but allowing us to focus on different characters and other elements of the world building. The change helps to really develop the bigger picture. It’s just as action packed and gripping as ever but Alex approaches things differently to Verity and obviously has other circumstances to deal with, including a small girl who keeps breaking into the zoo to see her fiancé, a king cobra, an assistant whose hair becomes irritated under stress and a sort of girlfriend who is entirely human and doesn’t know who Alex really is.
In all her series Seanan continually nails exactly the things I love about urban fantasy down onto the pages. Investigation, adventure, characters and settings that balance every day familiar with utterly other. The Price books bring all the things of myth and legend into the fore, dragons, gorgons, little froglike things with feathers, staying away from the fae worlds of the Toby Daye books. Her characters continue to be fun, flawed and multi faceted as people rather than endlessly powering up super heroes.
Always well written and tightly plotted this is quite simply some of the best urban fantasy out there.