Book Review: Discount Armageddon by Seanan McGuire

Title: Discount Armageddon

Author: Seanan McGuire

Publisher: Daw

Publication Date: March 6, 2012

Genres: Urban Fantasy

Shelves: Female-author, Female-fronted

If Buffy The Vampire Slayer were part of a family legacy instead of just being the chosen one; had a psychic cuckoo for a best friend instead of a human witch; and practiced ballroom dancing while waiting tables at a monster strip club instead of becoming a guidance counsellor; well . . . you might begin to get an idea of how awesome Discount Armageddon, the first InCryptid novel from Seanan McGuire, really is.

As urban fantasies go, this was wild, crazy, often laugh-out-loud fun. It has a kick-ass heroine in Verity Price, a quirky best friend in Sarah, and an uptight rival/love interest in Dominic De Luca. It offers up a bogeyman who lives in the dark, a beautiful but bitchy dragon princess, Indian madhura who smell like gingerbread, and a Gothic Lolita waheela with a parasol who hulks out when threatened. There’s also the aeslin mice who celebrate everything. Literally everything. With great glee and religious fervor.

Oh, and there might or might not be a dragon, since they’re supposed to be extinct.

The mythology and world building here is unique in the realms of urban fantasy, based not on magic or military might, but on secret societies and cryptid monsters. There’s a history behind our uneasy alliance with the creatures of the dark, with the Covenant of St. George protecting humanity through a campaign of cryptid genocide and the Price family being is seen as traitors for having broken from the Covenant, believing that most humans and cryptids can coexist peacefully. Verity hasn’t been assigned to cleanse New York, but to protect it by befriending the friendly cryptids . . . and exterminating those who feed on humanity.

The supernatural elements are original and yet familiar, with new spins on some monsters we recognize and others that were entirely new (at least to me). The action is exhilarating, with McGuire incorporating dance and music into Verity’s fighting style, which makes for an epic confrontation at the strip club. The almost mandatory romantic aspect is well-done, a will-they/won’t-they enemies-to-lovers relationship, and the workplace relationships are the perfect blend of snarky and exasperating. There is also an abundance of humor that only begins with the groan-worthy Dave’s Fish and Strips, where tentacles and tales dance around the stripper pole.

It’s been a long time since anything has filled the Buffy void for me, but Discount Armageddon may just be it. Serve me up a Midnight Blue-Light Special and put me down for Half-Off Ragnarok – just please promise me that Istas will be there.

Rating: ♀ ♀ ♀ ♀

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