Kirsten Reviews: Half-Off Ragnarok by Seanan McGuire

, by Kt Clapsadl

Half-Off Ragnarok by Seanan McGuire
InCryptid #3

When Alex Price agreed to go to Ohio to oversee a basilisk breeding program and assist in the recovery of his psychic cousin, he didn't expect people to start dropping dead. But bodies are cropping up at the zoo where he works, and his girlfriend—Shelby Tanner, an Australian zoologist with a fondness for big cats—is starting to get suspicious.

Worse yet, the bodies have all been turned partially to stone...

The third book in the InCryptid series takes us to a new location and a new member of the family, as Alex tries to balance life, work, and the strong desire not to become a piece of garden statuary. Old friends and new are on the scene, and danger lurks around every corner.

Of course, so do the talking mice.

Half-Off Ragnarok by Seanan McGuire is the third installment in her InCryptid series, this time focusing on Alex Price instead of Verity, and if you like reptiles, this one is for you.

Alex, one of the human members of the Price clan is working as a visiting herpetologist at the Columbus Zoo with Dee, his assistant, who happens to be a gorgon. This is both a job and a cover, as he is, like the rest of his family, always working to safeguard humans from cryptids, (non-humans from what most people would term mythology), and protecting cryptids from humanity. At the moment, this includes overseeing a basilisk breeding program, which chiefly involves a lot of patience. In addition, Alex works with lindworms, gorgons, wadjets, and other creatures, some of which slither, and others that walk on two legs and can ‘mostly’ pass for human if they feel like it.

Shelby, the Australian visiting zoologist, and big cat specialist is Alex’s ‘sort of girlfriend,’ in that he keeps canceling dates with her in order to go out into the swamps and research cryptids. There are some obvious Crocodile Dundee jokes that might be made about the character, and McGuire makes them all so the reader doesn’t have to (“Australia. The only continent designed with a difficulty rating of “ha ha fuck you no,”) but Shelby is far from being one-dimensional or a caricature, and has quite a lot going that will have an effect on Alex and his family.

In the meantime, Shelby and Alex have just gotten some time alone together when they quite literally stumble over somebody who’s been petrified. There’s only so many ways to explain people turning to stone without the boundaries of Alex’s personal life and profession getting blurred. Unfortunately, as the petrifications continue, he’s running out of other options.

Part of the appeal of this series is the extensive detail given to the various cryptids, and the result of this means the Price family feel like any other group of professionals, albeit ones that might perform a field autopsy for ‘spare parts.’ There’s a great deal of information on gorgons and several other cryptids in this book, as well some charming appearances by the Aeslin mice:

“ALL GLORY TO THE SCIENCE RULES OF SCIENCE!”

In short, this book is enjoyable and fast-paced read, and while the obstacles are largely resolved, there’s certainly a surplus of material and potential problems for Alex and his family to face in future books.
(Received a copy from the publisher)

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Previous Books:
     1. Discount Armageddon
     2. Midnight Blue-Light Special

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