Thursday, 29 December 2016

Reviews: 5 Incryptid Short Stories Narrated by Verity Price & Dominic De Luca - Seanan McGuire

If you're a fan of Seanan McGuire's Incryptid series you may or may not be aware that she has written a large number of short stories set in the world but written about various different characters. A lot of these short stories are available for free on her website HERE but a few of them can only be found in anthologies. I thought it would be nice to have one place to write quick reviews for the short stories but since there are so many of them I'm going to split them out by the characters and these reviews may be updated in the future if the author writes additional stories.

This review includes all the short stories that have been written about Verity Price & Dominic De Luca, 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)
Discount Armageddon
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)
Half-Off Ragnarok
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)
Pocket Apocalypse
Chaos Choreography
1 Elsie Harrington Short Story (Short Story in the Shadowed Souls anthology)
Magic for Nothing
1 Aeslin Mice Short Story (Purchase though Seanan McGuire's Patreon Page)

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 narrated by Verity Price and Dominic De Luca (circa 2012-):
(Unless otherwise stated all stories are available for free on the author's website)
The Ghosts of Bourbon Street
Snake in the Glass
Swamp Bromeliad
Waking Up in Vegas
My Last Name (New story added January 2017)

Visit Seanan McGuire's website for more information

The Ghosts of Bourbon Street

Verity Price and Dominic De Luca are currently putting their relationship through what can only be termed the ultimate stress-test: they're traveling from one side of the country to the other in a rented U-Haul, accompanied only by Verity's colony of Aeslin mice and the contents of her iPod. (Dominic is receiving a crash course in modern dance and pop music.)

But what's a road trip without a hidden purpose? Verity knows she's driving Dominic toward the biggest confrontation of his life—her parents—and that means she needs to start easing him in gently. What better way than with a stop in New Orleans to drink layered cocktails and meet her fun-loving Aunt Rose, who just happens to be a Predeceased American?

Poor Dominic didn't set out to become part of a ghost story, but it looks like that's exactly what's happening, as the old, new, and undead collide all over Bourbon Street.

Best read after Half-Off Ragnarok

Review:
If you've already read Half-Off Ragnarok (which I'd actually recommend you do before starting this short story so if you haven't look away now!) then you'll remember that when Alex phoned Verity she was just arriving in New Orleans with Dominic, well The Ghosts of Bourbon Street fill us in on what they got up to while they were there.

Verity and Dominic are in the process of driving cross-country across America as Verity moves back home to be nearer to her family. It's the ultimate test of their relationship, especially since Verity is still introducing Dominic to the cryptid world her family is so deeply a part of. She's trying to desensitise him to crazy happenings before she eventually has to take him home to meet her parents and she decides that a good place to start would be introducing her ghostly aunt Rose. What should be a relatively fun night partying with a dead relative gets a little more complicated when another ghost asks for their assistance.

I really enjoyed catching back up with this couple, poor Dominic really has been thrown in at the deep end since he first met Verity and the pressure hasn't let up yet. He's still coming to terms with the fact that pretty much everything the Covenant raised him to believe is actually a pack of lies and he's definitely nowhere near as knowledgeable about supernatural creatures as Verity and her family are. Verity doesn't believe in making it easy on him though, she's much more of a throw-you-off-the-boat-and-hope-you-learn-to-swim-quickly kind of girl. I think she's actually dreading the day when it will all get too much for him and he'll decide to walk away from her so she's pushing him hard and fast as a way of testing his feelings for her but luckily Dominic is up for the challenge.

I'm glad we've not seen the last of these two and I'm definitely looking forward to the eventual meet the parents scenes that I'm sure are coming soon.

Snake in the Glass

After New Orleans, Verity and Dominic are continuing to put their relationship through what can only be termed the ultimate stress-test: after all, there's a lot of country left to cover before they get to Oregon, and it's not like Verity is picking the most direct route. After all, she'd like him to meet her extended family before he meets her parents. Her parents are more likely to let him live if he has a few letters of recommendation.

The Carmichael Hotel in Chicago has long been a favorite destination of the Price family when they need a home away from home, and what better way to test Dominic's evolving attitudes toward the cryptid world than by dropping him into a nest of gorgons? Besides, any excuse to see Uncle Mike and Aunt Lea is a good one...although there may be a few complications. There always are.

When the modern world meets tradition and tradition meets practicality, it will be down to Dominic and Verity to show that sometimes, the ways you think are best are the ones that won't do anything to save you.

Review:
Verity and Dominic are still travelling cross country making their way to Verity's home in Oregon and this short story lets us join them as they stop over in Chicago to catch up with Uncle Mike and Aunt Lea. It would be far too easy for Dominic if they were just stay with family though so once again Verity drops him in at the deep end by booking them in at the local gorgon hotel.

You may remember the hotel from the Fran and Jonathan short stories so it was nice to catch up with the friendly gorgon family who run it. There is no mystery waiting for Verity and Dominic to solve so instead this story gives us the chance to see them just relaxing together while Dominic gets to know her friends a bit better.

What I enjoyed most was hearing from Dominic about how he views the changes in his life since he met Verity. His character has changed so much since the beginning and I love the way he looks at things now he's met her and she's shown him a whole different side to the cryptid community. There were some very sweet moments between them as a couple too and I'm glad we're getting the chance to spend more time with them both.

Swamp Bromeliad

The next stop on Verity and Dominic's great road trip brings them back to where it all began: Buckley Township, Michigan, the town where two expatriates from the Covenant of Saint George once decided to settle down and rebuild their shattered family. It's a sleepy, rural community, long removed from the excitement of those early days...but the woods are still dark and deep, and the things that dwell there are still dangerous to the unwary.

When two little boys appear at the Old Parrish Place, claiming that a flower has devoured their friend, it's up to Verity and Dominic to go out into the woods and see whether or not there's something left to save. It's a journey into someone else's dark place, and it's hard to say who's more frightened by the idea: Verity, who knows how much she has to lose, or Dominic, who has no idea.

It's time to see where the past meets the future, and how the echoes of the one continue to inform the other. It's time to return to the woods of Buckley, and see what can be seen there. It's time to bring a child home.

Review:
It's time for Verity to take Dominic back to her family's roots in Buckley, the place where her great-great grandparents Alexander and Enid settled when they left the Covenant. None of the Price family currently live there but the town is a huge part of their family's heritage and Verity wants Dominic to know exactly what he's getting himself into by dating her.

I think Verity is pretty determined to make Dominic experience everything her family has to offer, she's convinced that at some point it's all going to get too much for him and he'll leave her so she's trying to push him into making that decision sooner rather than later. She already loves him but doesn't want to end up with a broken heart months or years down the line. Luckily for her Dominic is a pretty determined guy, he may struggle to accept a lot of the things she tells him but he quickly adapts to new situations and he's willing to fight for their relationship.

We've seen some really great development in their relationship across the last two short stories in particular (Snake in the Glass and Swamp Bromeliad) and I'm really enjoying seeing Dominic loose some of his reserved outer shell and start to let Verity know how he feels about her. This short story had some particularly hilarious moments, in particular thanks to a song that the Aeslin mice have composed about Dominic. I really would like to hear the full song in all it's glory at some point but we got just enough to make me laugh out loud.

These little stories add so much depth to the Incryptid world and I'm so grateful that Seanan McGuire offers fans the chance to get all this extra information, especially since she offers most of her short stories for free on her website.

Waking Up in Vegas

Where does a journeyman cryptozoologist-slash-professional ballroom dancer take her former enemy and current boyfriend for the last stop on their continent-spanning road trip adventure?

Vegas, naturally.

When Verity Price and Dominic De Luca roll into Las Vegas, Nevada, what should have been an easy end to their working vacation quickly turns into something a lot more complicated, and a lot more important, since without the efforts of a family friend, Dominic may not be able to stay with Verity for much longer.

They're almost home. Now it's time to see if they can't beat the house odds and make it the rest of the way before things finally decide to start going horribly wrong.

Review:
Before Verity takes Dominic home to meet her parents they have one last stop to make. They've already faked Dominic's death but that will come to nothing if they don't set him up with a brand new identity so that the Covenant can't track him down later.

There is nobody better at creating new identities than her Uncle Al and since he's based in Las Vegas it is also the perfect opportunity for the couple (and the Aeslin mice!) to let their hair down and have a little fun. Of course gambling and drinking aren't the only things Vegas is known for so it could also be the perfect place for Verity and Dominic to tie the knot but first they have to survive the nightlife unscathed.

I will never get enough of this world and this story gives us another sneak peek into Verity and Dominic's cross country road trip. It's good to see them getting to spend time together as a couple and the Aeslin mice also get a chance to shine as they make the most of their access to room service and cable TV.

My Last Name:

Vegas was fun, if a little more exciting than originally planned; more importantly, Dominic De Luca is officially gone, leaving Michael Delgado in his place. It's only a name, but a name can change the world in the right hands. A name can change everything.

Everything except for the heart of the one who wears it. No matter what he's called, Dominic loves Verity, and marrying her was the best choice he's ever made. Now if he can just convince the rest of her family of that, he'll have a chance of seeing his next birthday.

With the Covenant behind them and the future ahead of them, it's finally time for Verity and Dominic to face the greatest challenge yet: explaining to her parents why they ran off to Las Vegas to get married, and what the hell she thinks she's doing hooking up with a member, however rebellious, of the Covenant of St. George.

Things are about to get interesting. And not in the necessarily good way.

Review:
We've been following Verity and Dominic's journey across the country to her hometown for a while now and I have to admit I was a bit disappointed that we never got to see her parent's reaction when she brings home an ex-covenant member and introduces him as not just her boyfriend but her husband so I was really glad when I found out that Seanan McGuire had added this extra short story to her website.

My Last Name is the perfect ending to this little series of short stories and it's another turning point in their relationship. It's never easy to meet the inlaws but doing it as an ex-covenant member just makes things even more complicated for poor Dominic. Let's face it the Price family weren't going to be happy with anyone that Verity brought home but the whole covenant thing and the fact they're already married are both huge black marks against Dominic before he's even said hello.

It was interesting to see the full lengths that Verity's father goes through just to confirm she's who she says she is, it shows how careful they have to be and how many security measures they have in place to protect the family. Then his reaction to Dominic was priceless, that's one father you don't want to get on the wrong side of! Her mother is equally shocked that the wedding has already happened but I liked the way she dealt with things. What I really liked was seeing Dominic prove his worth and the way Verity stood by his side 100% when things got awkward. Hopefully now the introductions are over Dominic will be able to earn the family's trust as the series continues.

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