Pocket Apocalypse by Seanan McGuire

Pocket ApocalypsePocket Apocalypse

by Seanan McGuire
Series: InCryptid, #4

Mass Market Paperback, 341 pg.
DAW, 2015
Read: March 14 – 17, 2015

Airplanes: essentially buses that fly, and hence have the potential to drop out of the sky at any moment, spreading your insides — which will no doubt become your outsides sometime during the collision — across whatever you happen to have been flying over. Since we were flying mainly over ocean, I was sure the sharks would appreciate our sacrifice.

So where, pray tell, are Alex and Shelby flying off to? Her home country of Australia, to help out her family and the cryptozoologist group/alliance/whatnot they’re part of deal with the continent’s first outbreak of the werewolf virus. Unlike everyone else there, Alex has dealt with werewolves before, and he’s a Price — that has some benefit (although how much is debatable, as he soon learns). He’s also going to meet Shelby’s family for the first time. It’s pretty unclear which of these two items are the most hazardous to his health.

We’ve had a lot of exposure to the idea that the Price family isn’t like the Covenant — in motives or means. Now we’re introduced to the Thirty-Six Society, who aren’t as nasty as the Covenant is to cryptids; but nowhere near as interested in understanding and cooperating with them as the Prices are. Also, they’re not so sure that the Price’s are all that different than the Covenant (which is really odd to think about from the point-of-view of the reader). So, all told — they’re not to interested in a know-it-all Price coming in from the U. S. to tell them how to take care of a problem. Particularly when that Price is sleeping with one of their own, and perhaps leading her away from them.

I did tire a bit — more than a bit, to be honest — with the way that Alex and various members of the Tanner family had the same conversation over and over about his allegiances, intentions toward Shelby, and methods. I realize in Real Life™ that you do repeat yourself, but so much of these conversations were essentially “second verse, same as the first,” and got pretty darn tiring. It would’ve been better if Alex wasn’t quite as right as he was all the time, too.

But that’s the backdrop, really. The very real likelihood that Australia is going to be overrun with werewolves in the coming weeks is the main concern (although I’m not convinced the word count would reflect that). With so much exposure to Patricia Briggs and Carrie Vaughn (not to mention Jim Butcher, Kim Harrison, Kevin Hearne, and so on) it’s easy to forget that werewolves used to be a horror movie staple. Leave it to McGuire to remind me that werewolves are generally thought of as monsters. These werewolves are pretty monstrous, and what they do to their victims isn’t pretty.

We don’t see as many of the native cryptids as we get hints of them — the couple that we do see are pretty interesting, but I could’ve used more. As with any inCryptid novel, you have to talk about the Aeslin mice. If for no other reason than they’re fun. This is probably their best showcase yet — they’re more than comic relief here, they help out — in a way that Alex could never have predicted. Some of the raw-est emotion (and not just joy and rapture over a new religious observance) comes from these little guys. I honestly don’t know if I’ll ever tire of these mice.

Occasionally, the humor feels forced — as if McGuire’s done a word-count since the last quip and shoves one in. This is typical for the series, and still occasionally works, oddly enough. But McGuire’s narrative flows better — and is funnier — when she allows the humor to flow naturally (as much as anything as crafted as one of her books is “natural”) and not imposed on the text.

This novel contains the word “denuded” more than I can recall ever seeing in a single work — there was one chapter, in fact, that nailed that record — but “denuded” showed up later, too. It doesn’t matter one way or the other, but it showed up so frequently (and so rarely anywhere else) that it couldn’t help but make an impression.

I don’t know why, but it took me forever to really “get into” this one. From page 1 it looked interesting and entertaining, but I kept putting it down after a half a chapter or so. When it did pick up, I didn’t take the time to jot it down because I didn’t want to stop reading, but I think it was a little after page 100. From that point on, I was into it the way I expected to from the get-go, and it kept my interest to the end. I think I like this more than the others (maybe Discount Armageddon was as good), and really look forward to the next one — it’ll be good to see Verity again.


4 Stars