Midnight Blue-Light Special

I received an ARC of Seanan McGuire’s Midnight Blue-Light Special, the second book in her InCryptid series and sequel to Discount Armageddon.

I reviewed, or at least recommended, Discount Armageddon here. At the time I said, “Discount Armageddon is a romp of a book. Yet clearly the world of Verity Price and her family is built on a turbulent and bloody history. It’s a balancing act, the fun and the action, the damnation and exile.”

I was guessing, when I wrote that. I did not have advance or special knowledge of the InCryptid series. I’ve read Seanan’s other books, though, both the ones written as Seanan McGuire and the ones written as Mira Grant. And Midnight Blue-Light Special is, indeed, about damnation and exile.

Let’s pause, briefly, to note that Ms. McGuire is a freaking genius when it comes to book titles. Her Toby Daye books are all named with quotations from Shakespeare. And each and every one tells you something terribly important about Toby’s world, about what will be important in that particular novel, and what Toby’s challenge in this book will be. Yet each is oblique enough that it’s not always perfectly clear until you finish the book. Her Mira Grant novels – about bloggers and politics after the zombie apocalypse – are titled, Feed, Deadline, and Blackout. All words that can be used to discuss the internet, blogging, politics, and the apocalypse.

The InCryptid series titles are Discount Armageddon, Midnight Blue-Light Special, and (according to Seanan’s blog) Half-Off Ragnarok. What I find exceedingly clever about these is that each title offers you something you ostensibly DO NOT WANT, easy and cheap. This says a huge amount about the InCryptid world. It could mean the cryptids themselves are something you do not want to run into, yet here they are, present in the world. It could mean the Covenant is a things the cryptids do not want, yet, here they are. In could mean that the Price family is something the Covenant does not want, yet …

It’s a movable feast. Everyone has something they fear, something they hate, and not only is it present, it is painfully easy to come by. Live in this world, or die in it, but the things you hate and fear are here.

So, back to Midnight Blue-Light Special. The book has not come out yet, so I shan’t spoil the plot specifically. I will spoil it somewhat generally, though, so bail on the review here if you care.

General spoilers ahoy.

Leave now if you want to avoid spoilers.

Okay, here we go.

1. The InCryptid books are urban fantasy. And urban fantasy is RIFE with romance plots and sub-plots. While MBLS has mature adult relationships in it – including dating, courtships, sex, and arguments, it is NOT in the romance genre.

2. Things do not work out for everyone. This is a series, with a long game, and a lot of bad things are going to happen to people you have come to like. None of this is cheap, none of this is gratuitous, and all of it makes character and plot sense. But it still makes me worry, and fret, and it still hurts when fictional people I care about are hurt.

3. The world is meticulously thought-out. It is also in a dialog, of sorts, with the urban fantasy obsessions with vampires, shifters, and zombies. What this means is that there are periodic expository digressions into the biology of fictional creatures. These are a paramount delight, and a good part of the reason I like these books. But YMMV.

4. The Price Family is one of those rare things in fiction – a family that both loves and respects all of its members in reasonably healthy ways. I say ‘reasonably’ because the Prices are in a strained position, and they have adopted some responses to that strain which would not make sense under other circumstances. But. Familial love and respect, on every page.

I truly like InCryptid. And I truly like Midnight Blue-Light Special. I think that this book – this series – will appeal to a broad selection of fantasy and sf readers.

Read if:

You liked Discount Armageddon
You like Gravity Falls, X-Files, or their ilk.
You like cryptozoology, either the support of or the debunking.
You like Buffy and her inheritors.

Midnight Blue-Light Special. It’s good stuff. Coming soon.

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