Sunday, July 20, 2014

Reptile WINS!

So, I actually finished Seanan McGuire's Half-Off Ragnarok a few days ago, but I've been lazy on updating. (Hey, I leave for Vegas tomorrow. I have other things on my mind.)

While technically part of her InCryptid series, this one switches narrators from Verity Price to her brother Alex Price, currently working as a visiting herpetologist at the Columbus Zoo. Alex is staying with his grandmother (another cuckoo, like his cousin Sarah, who played a major role in the first two books) and grandfather (a revenant, sort of like Frankenstein's monster) in Bexley Ohio. (McGuire's geography is a bit off, but given the nightmare Steven King made of NYC in the Dark Tower series, the few minor errors in Ohio geography can be forgiven.)

Alex has a thing going on with the visiting Australian big cat keeper, Hannah. However, due to his hidden life (living with two cuckoos and a revenant, running a basilisk breeding program, figuring out that the fricken are replacing frogs in the local ecosystem...), going on dates with Hannah gets a bit... complicated. This relationship gets further vexed when during a lunch date in the tiger garden, they find a coworker stoned in the bushes. And not on reefer. No, the coworker matched gazes with one of my biggest Nemesis-es in the original Final Fantasy, a cockatrice. At first he was afraid, he was petrified... well, the coworker stayed that way.

For those not versed in such esoterica, a cockatrice is a chicken with a lizard tail and the ability to turn creatures to stone. (Or at least partially turn them to stone.... there's a long conversation on the eating habits of petrifiers.) Given that Alex's assistant, Dee, is a Pliny's Gorgon (middle powered, between Lesser and Greater), she and her Gorgon enclave get dragged into the investigation, particularly after the cockatrice shows up at Alex's house, nearly stoning him for saying "This fish is so good, it's fit for Jehova!" (Ok, I'll quit with the stone jokes before I hit Steve Austin.) As it turns out, Hard-Hearted Hannah, the vamp of Savannah (There's a Savannah in Australia, right?), has her own secret, which comes out right after the chicken attacks. Which, admittedly, isn't nearly as West Side Story as Verity's romance with the Covenant of St. George scout, but it does introduce a new dimension into the world.

I'll admit, changing setting and narrators really helped me like this series, since the last book went a bit off kilter towards the end. As stated above, the geography is a bit off, but while I assume the Gorgon enclave is probably more towards Amish country or further into Appalachia on the Eastern end of Ohio, but given it's near a swamp, I can't help but think that maybe it's really in southern Champaign county, near where I grew up. (Cedar Bog Fen, home to many Eagle Projects I worked on, is a swamp with a lot of area for the Gorgon enclave nearby.)

According to the end notes, The next book will also follow Alex, before switching back to Verity in book 5. Which is cool, since I rather like Alex. I kind of wish Book 5 would do more to introduce us to the third Price sibling, the often mentioned Antimony.