This book came from the author as a free story, and I will never give you less than an honest review, no matter its source. I do provide informational and purchase links to make it more convenient for you to access the book. I also receive a percentage of the sale if you use one of my links to buy it. And that's not enough money to be less than truthful *grin*.
The InCryptid Prequels
Series: InCryptid #0.02, InCryptid #0.03, InCryptid #0.05, InCryptid #0.06, InCryptid #0.07, InCryptid #0.08, InCryptid #0.09, InCryptid #0.10, InCryptid #0.11, InCryptid #0.12, InCryptid #0.13, InCryptid #0.14
Other books by this author that I've reviewed include Home Improvement: Undead Edition, The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination, Half-Off Ragnarok, Midway Relics and Dying Breeds, Games Creatures Play, The Winter Long, Sparrow Hill Road, Pocket Apocalypse, Black as Blood, Blocked, White as a Raven's Wing, The Ghosts of Bourbon Street, IM, "Good Girls Go to Heaven", A Red Rose Chain, "Full of Briars", Reflections, Once Broken Faith, "Dreams and Slumbers", Shadowed Souls, Chaos Choreography, Magic For Nothing.
It’s twelve free short stories (your choice of PDF, MOBI, and ePUB) in a prequel group in Seanan McGuire’s Incryptid urban fantasy series covering 1928 to 1945 (there are other short stories in this series of prequels that can be found in anthologies; see the chronological listing of the InCryptid books on my website for the complete list).
I adore McGuire’s InCryptid series, mostly for the mice, lol. It’s a fun urban fantasy with these short stories providing background on the Price-Healy family history. That’s not to say that you should read these shorts first before beginning the series proper. I actually think you’re better off reading these stories after you’ve read the first one or two — Discount Armageddon, 1, and/or Midnight Blue-Light Special, 2. It’ll have more meaning. You can tell I’m serious, as I’m usually OCD about reading a series in strict order, lol.
McGuire has done an interesting twist on monster hunting with her renegade family who believes in a “live and let live” policy when it comes to the monsters. Oh, they’ll still kill those horrors, but only if they’re killing others.
The series has a sprightliness to it that keeps you hopping. There is a warmth and hominess to these short stories as we read about the stiff Jonathan Healy and his preference for a warm bed and a hot bath — and his tendency to go off into lecture mode at the drop of a hat. His parents, Enid and Alexander, are a comfortable couple who are warm, accepting — and deadly. Frances Brown is a firecracker. You can’t help but love a woman who can take the Healy lifestyle in stride and whip them knives out before you even know they’re needed. In my mind, she’s the star of these shorts. Just as she was the star of the West.
“‘Care to help me vex some rustlers, dear?’
Fran smiled brightly. ‘And here I thought you forgot my birthday.'”
“One Hell of a Ride”, 0.02
“No Place Like Home”, 0.03
“Married in Green”, 0.05
“Sweet Poison Wine”, 0.06
“The First Fall”, 0.07
“Loch and Key”, 0.08
“We Both Go Down Together”, 0.09
“Oh Pretty Bird”, 0.10
“Bury Me in Satin”, 0.11
“Snakes and Ladders”, 0.12
“Broken Paper Hearts”, 0.13
“The Star of New Mexico”, 0.14
The Short Stories
“One Hell of a Ride”
It’s one hell of a ride on the train Jonathan Healy and Fran Brown are on, as the train breaks through a hole in reality, and the two of them have to wrangle boundary imps and keep a train running to survive. It’s one hell of an introduction to the Healy family life for Fran, and one she finds challenging.
“No Place Like Home”
It’s a continuation of Fran and Jonathan’s trek to get back to Jonathan’s home in Buckley Township in Michigan. Well, actually it’s the end of that odyssey as the story opens on the night before they arrive and Jonathan practically slumps in relief.
It’s a difficult time for Fran, as there’s no real reason for her to have followed Jonathan home. And his home is nothing like she could have expected. Nor does that overheard berating help her pride.
“Married in Green”
…is sweetly thoughtful as Fran’s wedding day to Jonathan dawns, and she discovers why he kept postponing it. It’s not all sweet, however, as McGuire sets the seed of fear.
“Sweet Poison Wine”
It’s Fran and Jonathan’s postponed honeymoon trip to Chicago where they encounter assassination attempts, smugglers, and old family friends.
“‘Why did I marry you again?’
‘To be honest, Fran, I have no idea. But I am thankful every single day that you did.'”
“The First Fall”
This one set me off in tears and ended with me in tears. It’s too, too sad, and only worth reading for the background of it. Unless you don’t mind horrible loss.
“Loch and Key”
It’s been two years since events in “The First Fall”, and the Healys are off for a camping trip to White Otter Lake. A chance to heal for all of them, and a chance for Fran to meet another group of the Healys’ friends.
“Monsters were often the better men, after all.”
And for Fran to show off her trick ridin’ skills, lol.
“We Both Go Down Together”
Fran is true to form in this short story when she insists on going with Jonathan on this troubled visit to Gentling, Maine. Seems someone is kidnapping finfolk babies. This is probably the most horrific of the InCryptid stories.
“Oh Pretty Bird”
Vengeance is theirs as the Healys hare off hunting the woman who murdered their son. It’ll expose them to a whole new species about which even the Covenant doesn’t know.
“Bury Me in Satin”
It’s a humbling moment when Fran realizes how hard Mary is struggling, and how little the Healys have done to help. It’s that plate dropping through Mary’s fingers that’s the final tip-off.
“All she’d needed was someone to haunt, and she’d haunted him with the very best of intentions, and with love.”
“Snakes and Ladders”
It starts as a normal child’s would begin on Halloween night. Excitement about her costume. Anticipating the candy she’ll collect. And it quickly devolves into every parent’s nightmare when Alice is kidnapped.
“Broken Paper Hearts”
This one will break your heart just as the title portends. And now I have absolutely gotta re-read Discount Armageddon, 1, if only to glean a bit more about the Healy-Price past.
“The Star of New Mexico”
This short story will break your heart all over again as the Healy family holds off on Fran’s funeral as they wait for the mourners to gather. I hated this story and the previous one, “Broken Paper Hearts”. All I can say is that McGuire had better write a story that tells us what happened to Alice!!
“There were still hours to burn before the morning came and they put Fran in the ground forever. This was their last night in the same world, and he’d be damned before he wasted it on sleeping.”