This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
(Description nicked from B&N.com.)
“Alexander Price has survived gorgons, basilisks, and his own family—no small feat, considering that his family includes two telepaths, a reanimated corpse, and a colony of talking, pantheistic mice. Still, he’s starting to feel like he’s got the hang of things…at least until his girlfriend, Shelby Tanner, shows up asking pointed questions about werewolves and the state of his passport. From there, it’s just a hop, skip, and a jump to Australia, a continent filled with new challenges, new dangers, and yes, rival cryptozoologists who don’t like their “visiting expert” very much.
Australia is a cryptozoologist’s dream, filled with unique species and unique challenges. Unfortunately, it’s also filled with Shelby’s family, who aren’t delighted by the length of her stay in America. And then there are the werewolves to consider: infected killing machines who would like nothing more than to claim the continent as their own. The continent which currently includes Alex.
Survival is hard enough when you’re on familiar ground. Alex Price is very far from home, but there’s one thing he knows for sure: he’s not going down without a fight.”
I’ve decided that not only is McGuire’s Incryptid series my favorite of all the things she writes, but it’s also one of my favorites series, period. There’s a wonderful blend of creativity, humor, and wit that keeps me eagerly anticipating each new book as it comes out.
And this one is the best of the series so far. The author continually changes things up so the books never become cookie-cutter. This is the first book to take place in a location other than America, and this means that the main character is not in very close contact with the rest of the family. It also means all new kinds of cryptids to marvel at. It gives Alex that “fish out of water” status that allows him to be intrigued with the new, but his already established competence with cryptids means that he doesn’t come across as too over-matched.
I find it interesting that McGuire also chose werewolves as the main antagonistic force in Australia, because it’s not like there aren’t enough things in Australia that want to kill you. I think that by using werewolves, she has rooted readers in something familiar while also painting them very differently than you “typical” werewolves. That’s what I like most about the cryptids that are more commonly known–they’re not what you expect, but they’re recognizable enough to make that connection.
Of course, it’s the cryptids that McGuire creates herself that are the most awesome. I speak, as usual, of the Aeslin mice, towards which I feel a squeeful love and a desire to cuddle them. The lesser gryphons (like the Church Gryphon and Australia’s garrinna) also awaken in me a deep longing for a plushie of one of them. Basically, the author regularly makes me say “aaawwwww”, and some days that’s just what I need.
In general, McGuire’s writing style is one that I truly enjoy. She has a Pratchett-esque way of stating things that make you both laugh and think “Hey, that’s a good point”. I’m constantly making note of lines that I want to share with others. Pair that with a great, action-packed story, and you’ve got an unbeatable combination, as far as I’m concerned.
I’m already jonseing for the next Incryptid book and my fix of giggle-worthy dialogue. I’m constantly recommending this series to others, so that should give you a good idea of how highly I regard it.