Discount Armageddon (Seannan McGuire, InCryptid #1)

3.5 out of 5 stars

Cut to the Chase:
Discount Armageddon is a fairly standard kick-butt-yet-sexy-woman-monster-hunter style urban fantasy. In a refreshing twist, the author doesn’t seem to take her genre as deadly seriously as many in the genre do, and focuses more on fun than trying to gross the the reader out with gore or merely masquerading as fantasy when the real goal of the book is an attempt at pornography. There’s still some gore and sex, but it isn’t the emphasis, and the rest of the book is more about fun and silliness. The characters are better than average for urban fantasy, with the exception of the rather uninteresting love interest, but to actually make an interesting male love interest seems like it might violate a rule of the genre. The story is fine without any egregious plot holes, the pacing is quick, and there isn’t any endless sightseeing endemic to urban fantasy books set in real cities. Even though it isn’t deep or nuanced, I would recommend Discount Armageddon; it succeeds in its goal of just being fun and deserves to be recommended based on that fact.

Greater Detail:
Verity Price is a monster conservationist/competitive tango dancer because…. why not? Her hectic lifestyle of balancing her two lives becomes even more complicated when a representative of the Covenant, a society dedicated to exterminating all monsters, shows up and a snake cult starts kidnapping and murdering young women on hopes of awakening a dragon sleeping beneath New York City. Verity must seek to preserve her undercover identity as a tango dancer, resist the charms of a sexy Covenant operative, and save the endangered dragon all without any innocents who are unaware of the existence of monsters getting hurt.

This isn’t a great book. There are numerous issues I could point out, but I’m not going to bother because of one simple fact: this is way better than most current urban fantasy I encounter. If you like urban fantasy you should enjoy this book. You won’t necessarily be moved emotionally or awakened sexually here, but you should have a fun time.

For me, as someone who isn’t a huge fan of the genre, I have to say the fact that this book made if fairly apparent early on just in tone and overall playfulness that this wouldn’t degenerate into some weird sex fantasy or torture porn was really nice. If more authors in this genre made their limits on violence and sexual aggression clear earlier, I think the genre would really benefit. I’m not in any way indicating that there aren’t people who are very much into graphic violent depictions of sex or creepy torture stuff, but as someone who isn’t, it makes a book much more approachable when I am confident that nothing will degenerate to the point where I am wishing for mind bleach.

Really, there is a bit to commend here in terms of what the author is doing. The pacing is quick enough, and nothing drags on too long, and the attitude of fun and playfulness really suits the genre. After the author introduces the protagonist as having friendly singing mice in her apartment, she can do pretty much anything she wants and it doesn’t seem out of context for the setting.

Comparisons to Other Authors:
This is strictly better than Lilith Saintcrow’s Night Shift and serves as a good point of comparison. That is a book that tries its best to be unsettling and disturbing and just ends up being boring and gross, whereas this keeps its fun tone throughout and was actually enjoyable to read.

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