This review includes all the short stories that have been written about Antimony Price, stories by other narrators will be reviewed separately.
Entire Incryptid Series:
14 Jonathan Healy & Frances Brown Short Stories (Read for free on Seanan McGuire's website)
2 Alice Healy & Thomas Price Short Stories (Read for free on Seanan McGuire's website)
Midnight Blue-Light Special
4 Antimony Price Short Stories (Read some for free on Seanan McGuire's website)
3 Istas and Ryan Short Stories (Read most for free on Seanan McGuire's website)
1 Sarah Zellaby and Arthur Harrington Short Story (Read for free on Seanan McGuire's website)
5 Verity Price & Dominic De Luca Stories (Read for free on Seanan McGuire's website)
1 Elsie Harrington Short Story (Short Story in the Shadowed Souls anthology)
Magic for Nothing
Ghost Stories Series:
(Stories are set in the Incryptid World)
Sparrow Hill Road
Train Yard Blues (Short Story in the Coins of Chaos anthology)
The Ghosts of Bourbon Street (Crossover Short Story with Verity from the Incryptid series free on Seanan McGuire's website)
Short Stories about Jonathan Healy and Frances Brown (circa 1928-1945):
(Unless otherwise stated all stories are available for free on the author's website)
The Flower of Arizona (found in the Westward Weird anthology)
One Hell of a Ride
No Place Like Home
Stingers and Strangers (found in the Dead Man's Hand anthology)
Married in Green
Sweet Poison Wine
The First Fall
Loch and Key
We Both Go Down Together
Oh Pretty Bird
Bury Me In Satin
Snakes and Ladders
Broken Paper Hearts
The Star of New Mexico
Visit Seanan McGuire's website for more information
The Flower of Arizona
Naturally, things can't be as easy as "take the train to Arizona, find out what's killing people, make it stop, go home." There's the desert heat to contend with, along with over-friendly locals, a traveling circus that seems to follow the predator's path, and a golden-haired trick rider who may or may not know more than she's letting on. It's enough to drive a gentleman cryptozoologist to distraction—and that's before the mice get involved.
That's really not addressing the fact that anything with a taste for human flesh is likely to regard Jonathan himself as potential prey, and he is, after all, so very, very far from home...
"The Flower of Arizona" was originally published in the DAW anthology Westward Weird, released in February of 2012.
Although The Flower of Arizona is the first story about Jonathan and Frances it's actually the third one I've read since I downloaded a couple of the freebies from Seanan McGuire's website before deciding to purchase the Westward Weird anthology. This is the story where it all begins though and I'm really glad I decided to go back and read it.
Fran is a stunt rider and the main attraction at a circus in Arizona, she has spent her whole life performing and it's something that comes very naturally to her. Jonathan has travelled all the way from Michigan to investigate a spate of mysterious deaths that have started occurring everywhere the circus visits. He knows someone from the circus is involved and Fran is his main suspect. It quickly becomes clear that Fran isn't involved in the murders but when she realises what is going on she jumps headlong into danger to help Jonathan investigate and her life is turned completely upside down.
I really enjoyed this short, it was great to see how this couple first met and the Aeslin mice that are travelling with Jonathan never fail to make me smile. I'm looking forward to reading more of the short stories featuring these two!
One Hell of a Ride
Of course, there are a few small complications. Like the lovely and occasionally violent Miss Frances Brown, former star of the Campbell Family Circus, who seems to have become his new traveling companion. Or the Aeslin mice, who complicate travel at the best of times. And then there's the matter of the train having driven through a dimensional gateway into Hell...
Maybe Jonathan shouldn't be quite so worried about when he'll be making it back to Michigan. Maybe his time would be better spent in worrying about how to get off the train while he, Fran, and the mice are all still among the living.
I did feel like I was missing something with this story because I've not read the first short story with these characters (The Flower of Arizona can be found in the Westward Weird anthology) and it's a shame because I'd have loved to see how Jonathan and Frances first met. However this is still a fab short story and once I got into it I enjoyed every minute. This has a very American Wild West feel to it until the train they are travelling on accidentally slips through a dimensional gateway and ends up in Hell.
I don't want to say too much more about what happens so let me just tell you this is a fast paced, action packed short story and both Jonathan and Frances find themselves fighting for their lives. I can't wait to read more about these two!
No Place Like Home
The trouble is, home for him isn't home for Fran, who grew up in the desert, never lived under a fixed roof for more than a week at a time, and has no idea what to expect. To make matters worse, Jonathan's parents—Enid and Alexander Healy, late of the Covenant of St. George—are right on hand to make things more awkward for everyone.
With her future on the line, it's time for Frances Brown to make one of the biggest decisions of her life. Does she stay in Buckley Township and try to make a life with the Healys? Or does she saddle up her horse and ride back into the sunset?
After months of travelling Jonathan and Fran have finally reached their destination, something Jonathan is thrilled about but has Fran feeling less than certain. After battling all kinds of monsters throughout their journey meeting the potential future in laws should be a walk in the park but Fran is nervous and completely out of her comfort zone. Jonathan's parents aren't at all what she was expecting and she's beginning to wonder if this was such a brilliant idea after all.
I don't think this story works particularly well as a standalone because in a lot of ways very little actually happens but for people who have been following this couple's journey it was really good to see them get a moment's peace for a change. The Aeslin Mice are on hand to help Fran feel at home and I love the way they refer to her as the Priestess of Unexpected Violence. I'm really starting to feel invested in Fran and Jonathan's characters and I'm looking forward to reading more of their story.
Stingers and Strangers
Upon arriving in Colorado, our intrepid pair naturally discover that things aren't as simple as they appear—and they didn't appear to be that simple to begin with. Johnny and Fran will have to contend with dragon princesses, suspicious locals, and threats that neither of them have ever dreamed could exist if they want to make it out of this one alive.
Survival has never been so difficult, or so important, because if they don't make it home, how can they warn the others?
"Stingers and Strangers" was originally published in the Titan Books anthology Dead Man's Hand, released in May of 2014.
Stingers and Strangers is Seanan McGuire's contribution to the Dead Man's Hand anthology. Fran and Jonathan have now been working together for 3 years (& I have to admit that the jump in the timeline was a little jarring since the previous three stories have followed on one immediately after the other) and their latest case has them travelling to Colorado to investigate the strange behaviour of the local Apraxis Hives.
Considering Apraxis wasps are the size of a man's shoe and as intelligent as the humans they feed on (in fact, they absorb the memories of the humans that they consume!) they're a pretty terrifying creature. So anything that has them running scared has got to be of nightmare proportions and that is the creature that Fran and Jonathan have been sent to deal with.
Although I enjoyed this short it seemed a little odd that the couple's relationship had changed so little in three whole years (this actually felt more like it was several months after the previous story) but I loved the progress they make here. The wasps were suitably creepy but I think the show down with the main monster fell just a little bit flat, I would have liked that section to have been just a few pages longer and more detailed. This wasn't my favourite story about this couple but it was well worth reading if you're a fan of the previous ones and I'm looking forward to spending more time with them both.
Married in Green
Marriage is a big step, and Fran is terrified of what her future will bring. Is this her happily ever after, or just one more short-term home in a long string of the same? Help comes in the form of her old circus friends...but that just raises more questions. Will she ever be happy holding still? And what does it mean to be married in green?
You are cordially invited to join the Healys and the members of the Campbell Family Carnival on the joyous event of the marriage of Jonathan Healy and Frances Brown. Assuming they go through with it.
Everything changes today.
It's been about 4 years since Jonathan and Fran met and he's finally going to make an honest woman of her - not a moment too soon considering she's about 8 months pregnant! It's taken him a long time to convince Fran she's ready to settle down and even now she's still feeling a little nervous about the idea but Jonathan has arranged a perfect surprise for her, one that will help her decide once and for all what it is that she really wants.
There are no monsters to fight in this short but it's was a really sweet read, these two are great together and it was great to see that their relationship is finally moving forward. The Aeslin mice are on top form as always and they're well and truly ready to celebrate. Another fun little freebie from Seanan McGuire.
Sweet Poison Wine
Of course, these are the Healys we're talking about, and nothing in Chicago is exactly fitting the description provided by the Bureau of Tourism. From the gorgon-run hotel where they'll be staying to the swamp hags in the Chicago River, things are definitely business as usual, at least by the family definition of "usual."
Bootlegger Arturo Gucciard has only just been introduced to the Healy definition of "usual," but he's going to need to get awfully familiar with it if he wants to live long enough to have a honeymoon of his own. And Jonathan, well. Jonathan just wants to have a normal honeymoon.
Good luck with that.
It's been two months since Jonathan and Fran got married but thanks to the arrival of their son Daniel the couple never got a chance to take their honeymoon. Reluctant as they are to leave their son so soon they know he'll be safe with his grandparents they're also ready for a break so they set off to Chicago to spend some quality time together.
They actually managed to sneak off without any of the Aeslin mice so they're guaranteed privacy for the first time in their relationship but they have a knack for finding trouble anyway so it's not long before they're roped in to investigate the theft of a case of rather dangerous wine for the local gorgons.
I'm really enjoying these Fran and Jonathan short stories, it's nice to get some background into the Incryptid world and I love the huge variety of creatures that can be found. You can never be sure what Seanan McGuire will throw at you next and I'm looking forward to lots more adventures with this couple.
The First Fall
They have come together to bury Daniel.
Shattered by the death of their little boy, Jonathan and Frances set out to find the Campbell Family Carnival, where Fran's old friend Juniper's talent for talking to ghosts may allow her to believe that her child is truly at rest. Jonathan has no such hopes; he just wants to there's a chance his wife will survive the labyrinth of her grief.
This is not a happy story, and it does not chronicle a happy time in the annals of the Price family. But this is what happened, and when it happened, and it shaped so very much of what came after.
Rest well, Daniel Healy. You never had a chance.
** Please note that this review does contain a spoiler but since it's something that's mentioned in the blurb I feel like it's okay to talk about it. I'm actually glad I knew what was going to happen before I started reading though as it meant I was emotionally prepared for what happened, this isn't the easiest story to read and it will definitely be a trigger warning for some people. Having said that if you didn't read the blurb yet and you would prefer to go into this story completely blind then please don't read the rest of this review **
The First Fall has a very different tone to the previous short stories about these characters so rather than being full of humour and monster hunting adventures this is a sadder, darker story as Fran and Jonathan deal with the grief of losing their son Daniel. I have to admit I was shocked when I read the blurb and found out that Daniel had died, nobody ever wants to think about the death of a child and I'm glad I had the warning in advance because I needed to prepare myself before I started reading.
We never really spent any time with Daniel as a character so even though he was three years old when he died I didn't feel emotionally connected to him. I am extremely attached to his parents though and watching them fall apart in their grief was hard. This isn't the easiest story to read but it really does go to show what a brilliant job Seanan McGuire has done of making us connect to these characters in the space of a bunch of short stories. Her writing in this story was particularly powerful and I was moved to tears on more than one occasion.
Even the normally hilarious Aeslin mice didn't manage to lighten the tone here as they tried to deal with their own grief over the loss of a member of the Healy family. If this quote doesn't break your heart, even just a little, then there must be something wrong with you:
“The God of Early Arrivals and Earlier Departures was beloved to us. He will be forever part of the pantheon that watches over the colony from the place beyond the attic, where the cheese and cake are bountiful, and where we will all one day go.” The mouse spoke with absolute and utter conviction. There was a Heaven; Daniel was there; one day all the mice would go to join him.
This may not be an easy read but it's definitely a powerful one and I'm eager to continue reading about this couple to see how they cope with the aftermath of this life changing event.
Loch and Key
That was before she knew about the monsters in White Otter Lake, of course. The monsters change everything.
Before long, the entire Healy clan is embroiled in a fight for the lives of the creatures that live in White Otter Lake, which may be the last of their kind in the world. If they want to save these majestic plesiosaurs, the family will need to find a way to come together in order to solve the mystery of what the guardian of White Otter Lake has disappeared to.
It's bullets versus brains as the Healys finally step up to do their jobs, and preserve the crytozoological world. No matter what it takes.
It's been two years since tragedy robbed Fran and Jonathan of their young son Daniel and the grief is still gripping them hard. Jonathan's parents are desperate to see the couple start to heal and hope that spending time as a family on their annual fishing trip will help them reconnect and feel ready to move forward with their lives.
The lake where they fish is home to a family of plesiosaurs and this is Jonathan's first chance to introduce Fran to the these beautiful water creatures (I think they might be distant relatives of the Loch Ness Monster!). Something strange is happening at White Otter Lake though, the creatures are usually protected by the Wilson family who own the land around the lake but Mr Wilson appears to be missing and the people claiming to be his niece and nephew-in-law are acting rather strangely. It's up to the Healy family to figure out what is going on and to protect the plesiosaurs from danger.
This story was much lighter in tone than the last one, the family are still deeply affected by the loss of Daniel but they are starting to work through their emotions and Fran and Jonathan are working out how to be a couple again. They are completely crazy about each other but there's a massive hole in their lives and it's hard to get past that and move forward. The change of scenery helps though and I loved seeing Fran and Jonathan reconnect with each other. Jonathan's parents, Alexander and Enid, offer a lot of support and encouragement to the couple and I just love the dynamics between the whole family. The story has more of the humour I expect from this series and it has plenty of action as the group work together to take down some monster hunters.
We Both Go Down Together
But the people of Gentling aren't just ordinary fishermen and sailors: they're the descendants of finfolk who fell in love with the humans who pulled them from the sea, and they have long since settled into a gentle rhythm of a life lived between the wet and the dry. Only now, someone or something is stealing their babies from the shore, endangering the next generation.
Old obligations and new obligations will collide, and the newest member of the Healy family will join the fight...or will she? Because it's not just the babies of the finfolk who are in danger, and unless they're careful, Johnny and Fran might find themselves losing their daughter...
Fran may be eight months pregnant with their second child but that doesn't mean she's going to let Jonathan go off on an adventure without her so when they get a request for help from a group of finfolk the couple leap into action (well, with as much energy as a pregnant lady can muster anyway!). When they arrive in Gentling they discover that someone has been stealing the finfolk babies, an issue that hits particularly close to home for Fran and Jonathan, especially when she goes into labour early and their newborn daughter Alice becomes another of the stolen children.
Seanan McGuire is always introducing us to new creatures and here we get to meet the finfolk who seem to be a hybrid somewhere between mermaids and selkies, they are born human but as they age they eventually get called back to the sea and lose their humanity to become water creatures once more. It's a tough life for them because they don't get to choose how long they stay on dry land and they have no option but to leave any human members of their family behind when they return to the water but they are a gentle folk who just want to be able to live in peace.
I'm having so much fun reading these short stories, both Fran and Jonathan are on fine form in this instalment and I loved seeing their reaction when they found out their daughter was missing. Fran is a fierce mama bear who will do anything to protect her cub and Jonathan is just as dangerous. They've lost one child already and there is nothing on earth that will keep them from their second one so woe betide anyone who crosses them. Add in some extra humour from our favourite Aeslin mice and this story was one of my favourites about this couple. I'm looking forward to seeing what kind of mischief Alice is going to get up to now she's put in an appearance, I think she'll keep them on their toes from now onwards!
Oh Pretty Bird
And it's not like they won't have backup: Enid and Alexander Healy have not forgiven the woman who cost them their first grandchild, and they're not about to let Johnny and Fran ride out alone. They don't know much about the situation that they're walking into. They know enough to be afraid, to be on their guards, and to stay together at all times.
Can they avenge their own without paying more than they can afford? Old questions are finally answered, and old debts are paid as the Healys walk into the most dangerous situation they have faced thus far. It's for Daniel. There's no question of whether they'll go. There's only a question of whether they'll come back.
It's been a long time coming (five years in terms of the storyline but several short stories for us readers LOL) but the Healy family have FINALLY tracked down the person responsible for baby Daniel's death. This is one hunt that will need the entire family to work together if they want a chance of success so young Alice is left with a babysitter while her parents and grandparents set out for revenge.
I don't want to say too much about who they're up against or what happens but things get more and more creepy the closer they get to their target. Fran, Jonathan, Enid and Alexander are facing the most dangerous cryptid they've ever come across and they've been able to find out very little information about what type of creature it is or what kind of abilities they might have. I was actually pretty worried that not everyone would survive the battle and I'm not going to put you out of your misery on that front either so you'll just have to read the story for yourself to find out which of the Healys make it home safely.
I'm so invested in this family and they definitely deserve a little happiness after everything they've been through but we've already had a few hints that everything isn't what it seems with Alice's babysitter so I'm really hoping nothing horrible has happened while they were away from home.
Bury Me In Satin
Sadly, for some people, the future has already ended.
Mary Dunlavy has been Alice's babysitter almost since the girl was born. When her father stops showing up for work, it falls to Fran to go by the Dunlavy house and see what's going on. What she finds changes everything.
There is no right and there is no wrong in some situations: there's only the way things should have been, and the way things are.
Not everyone gets out alive.
We saw hints in the last short story that all was not as it seemed with the Healy's regular babysitter Mary and Bury Me in Satin gives us a chance to find out what is wrong with her. When Alexander hears that Mary's father hasn't been to work in a week he asks Fran to go over to their house to check up on the family. What she finds shocks her to the core and makes her realise that she never really knew the girl who has been left in charge of her daughter on a regular basis for the last few years.
Mary's story is a sad one and I think it's a little strange that the Healys didn't pick up on her situation sooner but I guess it's the last thing you expect of the teenage neighbour. It was nice that Fran and Enid did so much to help Mary now but it would have been even nicer if they'd been able to help her much sooner, something that Fran seems to regret when she realises that they haven't been quite the good neighbours that she always thought they were.
Snakes and Ladders
Right up until someone snatches her off of a porch, that is.
For Alice, this is the most terrifying thing that has ever happened. For Fran, this is the end of the world, and something she may not survive; if she doesn't get her little girl back, she may be joining Mary in the grave. And for the snake cult that grabbed Alice, this may be the chance that they've been waiting for...
It's tricks and treats on a Buckley Halloween, and this time, there are more than just the usual masked monsters roaming the streets.
When Fran takes six year old Alice trick or treating for Halloween she's hoping for some fun mother-daughter bonding time, what she isn't expecting is for her daughter to end up being abducted. Fran is armed and dangerous though and whoever took Alice isn't going to live long enough to regret it.
Snakes and Ladders is a perfect Halloween short story and I absolutely adored getting to spend time with young Alice, she's as precocious as you'd expect a child of Fran and Jonathan's to be and very smart when she's in a tough situation. It wasn't nice reading about her abduction but I loved the way she turned things to her advantage towards the end and I definitely loved seeing Fran's mama bear tendencies come to the front again. We also get a nice appearance from their ghostly babysitter Mary. The only thing that would have made it better would have been more of the rest of the family, we've not seen much of Jonathan for the last couple of stories now and Alexander and Enid were both completely missing from this story. That's a minor complaint really though, it's just because I love them all and want to see more of them together.
Broken Paper Hearts
Everything ends eventually. No matter how much you hope that it won't.
What the hell is Seanan McGuire trying to do to me? Yet again she's managed to make me cry in a 14 page short story!
I should have paid more attention to the title because Broken Paper Hearts was a very big clue to what was going to happen and yes it completely broke me. Such a heart wrenching read with events I truly wish had never happened.
The Healy family will never be the same again :o(
The Star of New Mexico
Fran touched a lot of lives in her time in Buckley, and the people who loved her are coming to say goodbye. It's not going to be easy. The things that are most important so very rarely are.
They say she never missed a shot; she was the darling of the west. But now she's gone, and the ones she's left behind must figure out what this means for them.
This story was absolutely heart wrenching, I sobbed from beginning to end and I'm tearing up again just thinking about it. I can't believe how invested I became in these characters over the space of 14 short stories, we've probably spent less time with them than we do in most characters in a single book but I just fell in love with them both and watching Jonathan try to cope with Fran's death is heartbreaking.
This story focuses on Fran's funeral and it shows just how many lives Fran and Jonathan had a positive impact upon over the years. Her death has left a gaping hole in the Healy family and they're all left trying to hold the pieces together. I was slightly disappointed that we didn't get to see them hunt for the monster that killed her but I think it was far too soon for any of them to be worried about the future, they needed to focus on saying goodbye and this was a fitting tribute for Fran.