Seanan McGuire’s Discount Armageddon is a fun, sexy, and action-packed novel that provides a glimpse of the modern-day demon hunter (in heels). I believe that fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer will be drawn to McGuire’s InCryptid series because of her fun, headstrong heroine: Verity Price.
Verity (Very) comes from a long line of demon hunters. Her family works to protect humans from the secret society of supernatural creatures—called cryptids–living among them. But Very isn’t all about the monster hunting. She’s determined to prove to her family that she can live two lives: one as Verity Price, demon hunter, and the other as Valerie the professional ballroom dancer. Life as a Price is more complicated because they make a lot of enemies, including the cryptid assassins of the Covenant of St. George. The first novel in the series introduces the reader to Very, some of her friends, a sexy operative from the Covenant, and a murder mystery that involves dragons and snake people in NYC.
Discount Armageddon has a complicated history, with a lot of references to members of the Price family and past events that the reader never sees. The novel lends itself well to a long series because there are so many different characters that McGuire could choose to write a novel about each and every one. But Verity is an engaging and likable character worth following. The reader admires her determination to pursue her dream, even though it means exposing her identity and working a dead-end job at the local paranormal strip joint slash hang out.
What I like most of the novel is that Verity represents the grey area in a complex world where humans and demons cohabitate in New York City. She defends the sentient cryptids from the indiscriminate killing of the Covenant, but she will protect humans from dangerous creatures. Verity doesn’t consider herself the judge, jury, and executioner for all cryptids, but she tries to maintain peace. Dominic, the Covenant operative, supports Verity at the end of the novel, but it isn’t clear whether he will side with the Prices or the Council when the big fight comes. That’s one of the most important aspects of a young adult novel because that’s the reality of life and growing up. It’s easy to fall back on the tradition of good magical forces versus evil magical forces, but I believe that flattens a fictional landscape and limits the possibilities for storytelling. If nothing else, fantasy should be a place for the reader to think and engage deeply with issues involving morality. Why explicitly tell the reader who to root for when figuring it out as you go is half the fun?