Tuesday, February 28, 2023

#Review - Backpacking Through Bedlam by Seanan McGuire #Fantasy

Series: Incryptid # 12
Format: Paperback, 352 pages
Release Date: March 7, 2023
Publisher: Daw Books
Source: Publisher
Genre: Urban Fantasy

Seanan McGuire's New York Times-bestselling and Hugo Award-nominated urban fantasy InCryptid series continues with the twelfth book following the Price family, cryptozoologists who study and protect the creatures living in secret all around us.

Reunion, noun:
1. The state of being united again.

Reconciliation, noun:
1. An act of reconciling, as when former enemies agree to an amiable truce.
2. The process of making consistent or compatible.
3. See also “impossible.”

Alice Price-Healy gave up her life for fifty years to focus completely on the search for her missing husband. The danger of focus like that is that it leaves little room for thinking about what happens after…and now that she’s finally managed to find Thomas, she has no idea what she’s supposed to do next. The fact that he comes with a surrogate daughter who may or may not have some connection to Alice’s recently adopted grandson is just icing on the complicated cake.

So the three of them are heading for the most complicated place in the universe: they’re going home.

But things on Earth have changed while Alice, Thomas, and Sally have been away. The Covenant of St. George, antagonized by Verity’s declaration of war and Sarah’s temporary relocation of an entire college campus, is trying to retake North America from the cryptids and cryptozoologists who’ve been keeping the peace for the past hundred years. And they’re starting in New York.

Alice and company have barely been back for an hour before the Ocean Lady and the Queen of the Routewitches are sending them to New York to help, and they find themselves embroiled in the politics of dragons, kidnappings, and of course, the most dangerous people of all: family.

Getting “back to normal” may be the hardest task Alice has undertaken yet.

Backpacking Through Bedlam, by author Seanan McGuire, is the 12th installment in the authors Incryptid series. One would hope that you have read Spelunking Through Hell before starting this book as the story picks up right were the previous book left off. The InCryptid series is a witty urban fantasy saga featuring an eccentric family of cryptozoologists who act as a buffer between the humans and the magical creatures living in secret around us.This story is narrated by Alice Healy Price who spent 50 years searching for her husband Thomas Price. 

Now that they have been reunited, and now that they have escaped from the bottle dimension where both Thomas, and his adopted daughter Sally Henderson were sent by the Crossroads (which was destroyed by Antimony), it is time to go back home to Buckley Township, Michigan and Galway Woods, where both Alice's mother and grandmother died. It is fair to say that every book before this point was a build up to the next phase in what is to come next. We've know for awhile now, or ever since Verity declared war on the The Covenant of St. George, that they would not go quietly into that good night. Nope, they are out for vengeance.

Without spoiling anything, we now know that Sarah Zellaby, Antimony, and her friends have made it back home after their adventurers. It has been around 3-5 years since Alice disappeared. It is further learned that the Covenant has somehow found out that there is a male Dragon in Manhattan that should have been wiped out a very long time ago. They are now going after other Cryptids hoping to wipe them out and lure out the Dragon not knowing that the Price's are still alive. 

So, it is not a shock or surprise to see both Mary Dunlavy and Rose Marshall quickly make an appearance when they learn that Alice, Thomas, and Sally have returned. Rose tells Alice that there is no time for relaxation. The Queen of the Roads is asking Alice to get rid of the Covenant as soon as possible since it was her family who created the problems. Things get interesting when Alice reunites with Verity, and her husband Dominic DeLuca as well as a cute surprise. Sarah Zellaby also makes an unusual appearance which should not surprise anyone. 

By the way, McGuire has posted that Sarah Zellaby and Alice Healy-Price were the key characters around whom she built the Incryptid series. Alice has substantial resistance to telepathy, and she has Kairos luck. Kairos luck means that improbable coincidences happen to her reliably. Kairos coincidences can be good luck or bad luck. Alice, who is almost always armed, also never missed once she pulls the trigger. But she have barked off more than she can chew, especially with Margaret Healy, who is out for vengeance on the Price family who is supposed to be dead.  

If you have read this series from the start, you know a whole lot about the Aeslin mice who never forget anything and have kept the Price Healy family history. Slight spoilers: At the end of Spelunking, Alice brought Sally to Kevin Price's compound in Oregon. If you know anything about this series, you now that Alice's children, mostly her daugher Jane, hate Alice. Sally stole James' waffles and told the folks there (folks including Aeslin Mice) to tell James that Sally stole his waffles. As you have no doubt guessed from the title, that communication is the subject of the novella. We see more deeply into the civilization and religion of the Aeslin in this story than we ever have before. 

I honestly do not know how authors like McGuire are able to churn book after book out without having stories fail spectacularly. I am looking forward to who will be the narrator of the next book in this series as well as finding out how much longer the family is expected to be at war with the Covenant

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