NEW RELEASE REVIEW by EN Blake: That Ain’t Witchcraft by Seanan McGuire

The eighth book in the funny and fast-paced InCryptid urban fantasy series returns to the mishaps of the Price family, eccentric cryptozoologists who safeguard the world of magical creatures living in secret among humans.

Crossroads, noun:

1. A place where two roads cross.
2. A place where bargains can be made.
3. See also “places to avoid.”

Antimony Price has never done well without a support system. As the youngest of her generation, she has always been able to depend on her parents, siblings, and cousins to help her out when she’s in a pinch—until now. After fleeing from the Covenant of St. George, she’s found herself in debt to the crossroads and running for her life. No family. No mice. No way out.

Lucky for her, she’s always been resourceful, and she’s been gathering allies as she travels: Sam, fūri trapeze artist turned boyfriend; Cylia, jink roller derby captain and designated driver; Fern, sylph friend, confidant, and maker of breakfasts; even Mary, ghost babysitter to the Price family. Annie’s actually starting to feel like they might be able to figure things out—which is probably why things start going wrong again.

New Gravesend, Maine is a nice place to raise a family…or make a binding contract with the crossroads. For James Smith, whose best friend disappeared when she tried to do precisely that, it’s also an excellent place to plot revenge. Now the crossroads want him dead and they want Annie to do the dirty deed. She owes them, after all.

And that’s before Leonard Cunningham, aka, “the next leader of the Covenant,” shows up…

It’s going to take everything Annie has and a little bit more to get out of this one. If she succeeds, she gets to go home. If she fails, she becomes one more cautionary tale about the dangers of bargaining with the crossroads.

But no pressure.

 

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About the Book

That Ain’t Witchcraft
by Seanan McGuire

Series
InCryptid Series

Genre
Adult
Urban Fantasy
Romantic Fantasy

Publisher
DAW (Imprint of Penguin Group)

Publication Date
March 5, 2019

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EN’s Review

That Ain’t Witchcraft is further proof (if any was needed) that Seanan McGuire is a genius. She creates genuinely fun, interesting characters that still have enough flaws and shortcomings to be believable, adds a dash of urban legends and classical mythology, and sets them loose in a vibrant, exciting setting with wonderful results.

The InCryptid series in general is great, but this may be the best instalment yet. The only (very minor) complaint about That Ain’t Witchcraft that occurs is that Antimony has three men in love/obsessed/crushing on her in as many books. That being said, Antimony is amazing, her relationship with Sam is nuanced and interesting, and his reasons for loving her are ell established within the book.

The feelings the unnamed-to-avoid-spoilers person develops for her are of a completely different nature, with believable motivation. Leonard Cunningham’s formerly established obsession with Antimony almost entirely disregards her as a person, focussing instead on the status it would bring him to bring a Price back into the fold. With that in mind, Antimony doesn’t actually become the everyone-loves-her-but-she’s-just-a-Normal-GirlTM stereotype that so many heroines fall prey to.

Sam’s character is fleshed out a little in this book, and we got to see more sides of his relationship with Antimony. One particularly great aspect of the InCryptid series is that none of the characters are perfect. They’re people doing their best, and sometimes they make things worse and have to live with that. It’s amazing.

Fern and Cylia also get a bit more page-time in this book, and their continuing motivations were explored in a way that never discounted their agency. Fern in particular has a relationship to Antimony that is rare to find in novels that all too often simplify or ignore relationships between women. The loyalty, respect and genuine affection on both sides was charming to see. Cylia, and her species, continue to intrigue, and it is likely that more will be learnt of Jinks as the series continues to develop.

James was a great character, and his backstory and family situation were really interesting. He worked well as a foil for Antimony within the book, and he (and some of the things he brings with him) have the potential to shed some light on exciting structures within the InCryptid world. The way he initially met Antimony was one of the highlights of the book, as was their continuing interactions.

That Ain’t Witchcraft was well plotted, with the right amount of comic relief to serious character moments. The Crossroads have always been one of the most intriguing parts of both the InCryptid series, and the Ghost Roads series which exists in the same world, so this book was a dream come true. Some of Mary’s quirks were explained in this book, and it was great to see her role in Antimony’s life examined and used to drive tension within the novel.

This book grabs you by the throat, knocks you unconscious and leaves you to wake up with oven mitts duct-taped to your hands in a house full of hostile strangers. That Ain’t Witchcraft is a hell of a ride, full of all the character development, amazing interpersonal situations, meticulous world-building, thoroughly enjoyable dialogue and ridiculously gripping plot that the rest of the series has led us all to expect.

The resolution of this novel was massively satisfying, it tied up a HUGE plot point while still leaving plenty of material for future books in the series. This book does so much to hint at the future of the Price family, and even teases a potential resolution regarding Thomas and Alice.

All in all, a fantastic read that would be perfect for anyone who enjoys great characters, world-building, or urban fantasy in general. There’s something for everyone here, though the series should be read in order to avoid some major spoilers.

See All Reviews by EN Blake

 

Disclaimer

The review copy of this book was purchased by the reviewer. All titles reviewed on this blog are a fair and honest assessment of the book. No monetary compensation was received in exchange for this review. For more information regarding our review process, please visit our Review Policy & Review Request Submission page.

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