Chaos Choreography: This one is really fun

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Chaos Choreography by Seanan McGuireChaos Choreography by Seanan McGuireChaos Choreography by Seanan McGuire

This review will contain spoilers for the first two INCRYPTID books, Discount Armageddon and Midnight Blue-Light Special.

Seanan McGuire’s INCRYPTID series (which currently includes eight novels and numerous shorter works) follows the adventures of the Prices, a family who used to belong to the Covenant, a rigid group of monster-hunters whose mission it was to eradicate all supernatural creatures from the face of the planet. A couple generations back, the Prices turned traitor when they started questioning the ethics of the Covenant’s scorched earth policy. They fled to America and have been hiding from the Covenant as well as trying to protect good supernatural creatures from the Covenant’s notice.

We met Verity Price in the first two books of the INCRYPTID series, Discount Armageddon and Midnight Blue-Light Special. Books three and four, Half-Off Ragnarok and Pocket Apocalypse, featured Verity’s big brother Alex Price, a cryptozoologist who works at a zoo. Book five, Chaos Choreography (2016), is back to Verity, whose story I’ve found more interesting because she’s fallen for a Covenant agent.

Verity has always wanted to be a famous ballroom dancer (under an assumed name), but she gave it up to pursue her more important calling of protecting incryptids from the Covenant… or so she thought. Out of nowhere she receives an email from the producers of Dance or Die, the dancing program (clearly meant to be So You Think You Can Dance) that she almost won a few years ago. They want her back on the show for an all-star season. She’s prepared to say no to her dream, but Dominic insists that she not throw away this chance because he doesn’t want her to always be wondering if she took the wrong path.InCryptid (Book Series) by Seanan McGuire urban fantasy book reviews

So, Verity goes on Dance or Die (what an ominous sounding name). The first third of the book is all about the show but finally, wouldn’t you know it, Verity’s two lives collide as the eliminated contestants start showing up dead and it’s clear that these murders are being perpetrated by people or incryptids familiar with the secret supernatural world she lives in.

Not only must Verity keep up with the grueling choreography training, practices, live shows, and other Dance or Die events, but in her practically non-existent spare time, she needs to solve the murder mystery before any more contestants (including herself) get eliminated. Fortunately, she’s got the help of Dominic and a couple of incryptids who are part of the competition.

Chaos Choreography is so entertaining. I’m a fan of So You Think You Can Dance (it’s one of the very few shows I watch), so I got a kick out of all of the parallels to that show. (If you’re not familiar with SYTYCD, it would enrich your reading of Chaos Choreography if you’d watch a couple of episodes.) It was fun to watch Verity switching between her two roles of dance contestant and monster hunter. Also, we finally get to meet Alice Healy, the grandmother whose reputation we’re well aware of by this point in the series. Because she spends time hopping between dimensions (looking for her lost husband), Alice’s age fluctuates every time she shows up in Verity’s space-time. In this episode, Alice looks like a head-banger in her twenties. She’s very dangerous.

As with the other INCRYPTID books, you’ll need to suspend disbelief when it comes to some of the plot. There are things the characters should do but don’t and things that shouldn’t work but do, etc. But if you’ve liked the series well enough to be thinking about reading book five, you’re good to go here.

The climactic final scene is a doozy and something happens that is really going to shake up the Price family. I’m looking forward to reading about the fallout in the next book, Magic for Nothing.

The audio versions of INCRYPTID are produced by Audible Studios and they’re great. Emily Bauer performs Verity Price and I think she was perfectly cast. She does a great job with Dominic and the other characters, too.

Published in 2016. The fifth book in New York Times-bestselling Seanan McGuire’s witty urban fantasy InCryptid series about a family of cryptozoologists who act as a buffer between humans and the magical creatures living in secret around us. Verity Price is back on the West Coast and getting back into the swing of the family business: cryptozoology. She’s rescuing cryptids from bad situations, protecting them from monster-hunters, and generally risking life and limb for the greater good, with her ex-Covenant partner/husband, Dominic, by her side. Her ballroom dance career is behind her…or so she thinks. When Verity gets the call from the producers of Dance or Die, the reality show she almost won several years before, she finds the lure of a comeback impossible to resist, and she and Dominic are off to L.A. for one last shot at the big time. Of course, nothing is that simple. When two of her fellow contestants turn up dead, Verity will need every ally she can find—and a couple she wasn’t looking for—in order to navigate the complicated steps of both the tango and a murder investigation without blowing her cover. It doesn’t help that her official family backup is her grandmother, Alice Price-Healy, who thinks “subtle” is something that happens to other people. Winning this competition may have just become a matter of life and death.

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KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.

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2 comments

  1. Dance or DIE??? I love it!

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