Review: Tricks for Free – Seanan McGuire

Review: Tricks for Free – Seanan McGuireTricks for Free (InCryptid #7)
by Seanan McGuire
Series: InCryptid #7
Publisher: DAW
Publication Date: March 6, 2018
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 368
Source: NetGalley

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

My rating: One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

Penance, noun:
1. Punishment for past actions.
2. An attempt to pay for what can’t be bought.
3. See also “exile.”

Antimony Price is on the run. With the Covenant on her tail and her family still in danger, she needs to get far, far away from anyone who might recognize her—including her own mice. For the first time in a long time, a Price is flying without a safety net. Where do you go when you need to disappear into a crowd without worrying about attracting attention? An amusement park, of course.

Some people would call Lowryland the amusement park. It’s one of the largest in Florida, the keystone of the Lowry entertainment empire…but for Annie, it’s a place to hide. She’s just trying to keep her head down long enough to come up with a plan that will get her home without getting anyone killed. No small order when she’s rooming with gorgons and sylphs, trying to placate frustrated ghosts, and rushing to get to work on time.

Then the accidents begin. The discovery of a dead man brings Annie to the attention of the secret cabal of magic users running Lowryland from behind the scenes. They want the fire that sleeps in her fingers. They want her on their side. They want to help her—although their help, like everything else, comes with a price.

No plan. Minimal backup. No way out. Annie’s about to get a crash course in the reality behind the pretty facade. If she’s lucky, she’ll survive the experience.

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4 stars icon fantasy icon

If you’ve asked me to recommend a book to you before, you have probably had to live through me squeeing and fangirling over Seanan McGuire before.  So, I was initially acquainted with her when Rosemary and Rue, the first October Daye book, came out, uh, a very long time ago, and while I’ve kept up with that series religiously (at this point, my husband knows that I will be utterly useless the Tuesday in September the books annually come out on), I’m not as up to date on her others.  And I’ll admit – when I first read Discount Armageddon a very long time ago, I was disappointed because I was expecting another October Daye-style series.  But, Ms. McGuire is an enormously talented writer, and the InCryptid series is more of a tongue-in-cheek send-up of urban fantasy while at the same time being the one of the best entries in that genre.  So, yeah, all that to say is that this is the seventh in the InCryptid series, and it absolutely can’t be read as a standalone.  If you’re interested in urban fantasy starring a ballroom dancer and a bunch of highly religious mice, do yourself a favor and go start at the beginning.  Mild spoilers ahead for the first six books, though I’m trying to keep it general, and, uh, lots of happy squeeing.

When I realized this would be another Annie book, and that it would be set at a “Florida theme park,” I honestly thought I was going to die of anticipation.  I’m a bit of a Disney freak, and I know Ms. McGuire is as well, and seeing her take on Disney World was perhaps my favorite thing about this book.  I was initially unsure of Annie, partly because she’s still quite young and figuring out who she is when she gets her first book, while the other main characters already know who they are and are just trying to navigate the world they find themselves in.  In this book, though, she’s learning to control her magic and is much more sure of herself and less the whiny bratty little sister.

As always, Ms. McGuire has written an amazingly strong, well-paced plot, full of unbelievable creativity.  I did think some of the twists were predictable, and I was mildly annoyed at how oblivious Annie seemed to the mayhem going on around her, but it feels more like nitpicking, honestly, when the book is this good.  While I missed the Aeslin mice (“HAIL!”), there were plenty of other secondary characters, including a gorgon, that made it easier.  I haven’t read the Ghost Road novels (seriously Ms. McGuire, do you not sleep???), so I have the feeling I was missing things there.  While I feel like there was a lot of character development for Annie, there’s pretty much nothing in the book that advances the greater Prices vs Covenant storyline.  This isn’t necessarily a critique – more a warning for anyone going into this looking for more Covenant-ness, so they won’t be disappointed.

In some ways, Ms. McGuire’s novels are like following a new baking recipe.  It takes a bit of time and work to get into them, and sometimes it feels like there’s a lot of disparate elements being thrown together, but, with patience, you’re always rewarded with something absolutely delicious at the end.  Highly recommended!

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