Verity Price’s family is not like many others. She grew up dodging her sister’s habit of booby-traps and ambushes and dealing with her grandmother’s regular visits into hell to find her grandfather. Oh and her cousin isn’t human.
Her family has worked with monsters, protected humanity from them – protected them from humanity – and generally tried to keep things in balance. Unlike the Covenant of St George which is determined to kill anything they don’t consider human or right.
So when one arrives in town, completely derailing her dancing dreams, Verity is not happy.
Some books just make me smile. I just read them with a big silly grin on my faced because they’re so much fun and I’m enjoying them throughout and I get all kind of sad when it ends.
But this is the first book of an entire series so I have so many more fun books to charge through which I’m really looking forward to: book one has definitely got me hooked in here.
The world is fascinating – not because it’s supernatural beings in a modern world (there are no shortages of those these days), but the way they’re integrated is fascinating. Not by being open and revealed and being part of the human political world (which they’re not), but by having them part of the greater global ecosystem. After all, we have these worlds where the supernatural is part of the world, then why wouldn’t they be part of the food chain, part of the environmental structure, part of the general mess of myriad interactions that all creatures in nature go through?
This is a world where Cryptozoology is still, basically zoology. The studying of supernatural creatures – Cryptids – is, at the beginning, the study of creatures and beings. Intelligent cryptids have histories and societies and cultures. The non-intelligent cryptids have instincts and territories and are basically animals like any other
I love how this is explored. And I love how it is examined in far more detail than simply “are these evil”. A creature that hunts humanity is not just inherently condemned by Verity and her family – after all in a world where the supernatural exists “endangered big predator” or “giant lethal monster” are pretty much synonymous.
There’s also real ecological considerations – which affects humanity as well. If you wipe out a species that normally changes an ecosystem drastically. I really love how the whole concept of supernatural beings is addressed by in a very scientific, naturalist way which is truly excellent.
I like this because it adds complexity to the equally presented argument that some cryptids - especially intelligent cryptids – are utterly harmless even beneficial to their neighbourhoods but which are hunted by the Covenant. It would have easy, simple and simplistic to have Verity and the Price family be noble beings killing bad monsters while the Covenant are just genocidal judgemental arseholes slaughtering anything they consider ungodly. And sure, there’s a part of that but there’s a nice expanded complexity as well – not everything Verity and her family saves are harmless or not aggressive, but that doesn’t mean it should be removed
Throw into that some really genuinely hilarious touches – the battle of the gorgon and her hair, the Waheela’s amazing goth outfit and, my utter favourite, the very religious Aislinn Mice who I love beyond all reason and should be included in every book. Forever. You’ve got a deadly serious thriller? Needs Aislinn mice. Agatha Christie remake? Poirot needs Aislinn mice. Dystopian sci-fi on an alien world? Aislinn mice. They’ll improve everything.