The world of Discount Armageddon is much like our own, only there are lots of seemingly magical creatures living among us. Talking mice hold elaborate religious ceremonies, gorgons patronize wig shops and harpies stir cauldrons on rooftops. Collectively, these odd creatures are called cryptids. Verity Price is from a family of renegade cryptozoologists that believe in studying cryptids and defending them as a necessary part of healthy ecological balance. When someone starts killing cryptids in Verity’s town, she steps up to protect them.
Discount Armageddon is written in first person. I don’t remember there being any viewpoint characters other than Verity Price. This made for a rather intimate feel, because you’re in Verity’s head the whole time. It worked quite well. She’s a bit of a super hero, though. She’s frequently leaping from rooftop to rooftop and performing feats that would make an Olympic gymnast blush. She doesn’t have any otherwise magical abilities, and this gymnastic ability doesn’t make her over powered. She’s thoroughly challenged by what she runs up against.
The setting is an alternate version of present day New York. People don’t seem to have magic, but there are lots of magical creatures around, hiding below the surface.
The Incryptid world is obviously pretty thoroughly thought out. Thankfully, McGuire restrains herself from infodumping all of her worldbuilding. Instead, every few pages you’re treated to a couple sentences sketching out a new cryptid, often as not drawing a smile or a laugh. This is really well done. There’s an online field guide with a lot more depth. I’d already seen it before I read the book and it did not detract at all. McGuire has obviously done a lot more world building than showed up in the final book.
This is not a contemplative book. It starts out at a jog and breaks into a full on run very quickly. The pacing is really great, with enough pauses to keep the pace from feeling relentless, but enough speed to keep me from wanting to put it down. A virtuoso performance.
The basic plot centers around a mystery with several complicating factors. There’s a little light romantic element, but it’s not too heavy. This is definitely Urban Fantasy rather than Paranormal Romance.
That said, the tone is pretty light. McGuire is having fun with this and the book steers clear of making things gritty or noir. This has more in common with My Life as a White Trash Zombie than it does the Dresden Files.
As Discount Armageddon placed on the New York Times bestseller list, I’m sure there will be more Incryptid novels. I’m looking forward to them. This one gives a complete story without any major dangling plotlines. Don’t wait for a sequel to read it.