Discount Armageddon, by Seanan McGuire

All she ever wanted to do was dance…

Verity Price is a cocktail waitress and aspiring ballroom dancer, hoping to hit the big time in New York City. The only problem is, her other job keeps getting in the way.

Other job? Oh, right. Verity’s a cryptozoologist (from a long line of the same), and her job is to look after the urban cryptid population–help them when they need it, keep an eye out for potential problems, and help them stay off the human radar. But someone else is in New York for the cryptids, too, and he isn’t nearly so helpful.

The Covenant of St. George is a centuries-old organization dedicated to slaughtering anything that wasn’t on the ark with Noah. (Where they got the complete passenger list from is anybody’s guess) It’s been decades since they last purged New York City, and the cryptid population has swelled–so much so that there’s no way Verity could ever protect them all.

What’s more, she can’t let the Covenant find out who she is–her family’s efforts to protect cryptid life has put them on the Covenant’s most wanted list (dead or alive, but most preferably dead).

With cryptid women disappearing from the streets, the Covenant agent haunting the rooftops, and ugly whispers of cults in the sewers, Verity’s got her work cut out for her.

This book, the first in an ongoing series, is loads of fun. (Gunfight in a strip club, people!) Author McGuire takes conventional monster (or “monster”) tropes and spins them into living, breathing, real people who don’t seem too different from you or me–apart from the claws and fur, that is.

(Oh, and I’d be remiss in not mentioning the mice. The hyper-religious, pantheistic mice who turn pretty much everything into sacred writ.)

Can Verity save the day and make it to the tango competition on time? Will the Covenant discover her identity and purge New York? Will the things lurking in the sewers destroy the city in some sort of Discount Armageddon? Read it, and find out.

Favorite Line:

I hate killing people. It’s messy, it’s inconvenient, and while body disposal is surprisingly easy when you know what you’re doing, it’s not a pleasant way to spend an evening.

Don’t read if: you don’t like free running, gingerbread, competitive ballroom dance, or dragons. Or talking mice. Seriously: if you hate talking mice, don’t read this.

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Horns–Guest Review by Drew!

Quick note from Two: This is the first guest post! Everybody give a warm (ish) welcome to Drew, who was so very kind to do this for me. Also, it’s a movie review.

Directed by Alexandre Aja
Written by Keith Bunin
Adapted from the novel by Joe Hill
Rated R (for myriad valid reasons)

Even though this film was released in 2013, I only just now got the pleasure of viewing it. It isn’t just that it’s something so new and so different from what we, as an audience, are used to, but that it’s a treatise on human nature.

Daniel Radcliffe gives a startlingly gritty performance as the grizzled Ig Parrish, whose girlfriend died under, shall we say, mysterious circumstances. Blamed for her murder and branded by the media, his friends and family, and the justice system, Ig is left to an existence of booze and self loathing.

But one day, something strange happens. Ig awakens to discover that he’s grown a pair of horns during the night. It isn’t just the horns, but the sway they hold over people: In their presence, the people around Ig are compelled to tell him their deepest, darkest thoughts. Originally, this startles and confuses the poor man, but after a time he resolves to use his new-found powers to suss out his girlfriend’s murderer.

Ig’s mission takes him to the very depths of the human soul as people he once knew and loved reveal to him their most disturbing sides. But what is Ig’s true intent? Is it a need for justice or vengeance that truly drives him? Can he overcome his own demon (both literally and figuratively) to make things right? And perhaps the greatest question: Can a force for evil be used to defeat evil?

Not only is this an engrossing tale with elements of drama, dark comedy, and a strong emotional core, but it is an examination of people and their intentions. It takes a deeper and unrelenting view into the nature of man, the soul, and the driving need to demonize (literally) that which we do not understand.

I wouldn’t recommend this film for mass consumption. Many audiences, I believe, are simply not ready for it. However, if you enjoy a film that’s more off-the-beaten path, something new and different, I strongly suggest this movie make your watch list.

Favorite Line:

“People say you should always do the right thing, but sometimes there is no right thing. And then, you just have to pick the sin you can live with.”

Don’t watch if: you are a steady churchgoer, don’t like black comedy, or can’t bear to think of Daniel Radcliffe as anybody but Harry Potter.

 

Got a review idea of your own? Want to share a book, movie, or TV show you love with the Internet, where it can live forever? Head over to the Comments and Guest Reviews Page and let me know!

Maplecroft, by Cherie Priest

Lizzie Borden took an axe, gave her mother forty whacks. When she saw what she had done, she gave her father forty-one.

Lizzie Borden is a woman trying to do her best, but it’s not easy. Her older sister, Emma, is slowly dying of consumption (best known nowadays as tuberculosis). Her parents are dead from a brutal murder. The other residents of Fall River shun the Borden sisters, believing that Lizzie, though acquitted in a court of law, killed her parents in cold blood.

Which she did, in fact, do. But in her defense, they had become a bit…weird. After the trial, Lizzie and her sister moved across town to a large, semi-secluded house known as Maplecroft. It has plenty of space for Emma’s scientific research (though she has to publish under a male pseudonym, because it’s 1893 and society still believed women had no business getting involved in all that book-learnin’. So not too different from now, come to think of it. Anyway.) There’s even room for a giant tank of boiling lye under the cellar floor so Lizzie can easily dispose of the bodies of the things that keep showing up outside Maplecroft at night. Things; creatures; disgusting slimy blind wet things with glassy, needle-sharp teeth. Things like what the senior Bordens had become before Lizzie handled them. But the things keep showing up, and keep showing up, and it’s getting harder for Lizzie to keep up. And the other townspeople are starting to go strange, too…

Imagine if your loved ones were slowly changing into the revoltingly batrachian Deep Ones before your very eyes. Imagine if you knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that they’d come for you next. And imagine if, with a few quick blows of an axe, you could save yourself and what’s left of your family. Maybe, just maybe, we’ve been viewing Lizzie Borden all wrong. Give her a chance to tell her side of the story–read Maplecroft and see if Lizzie Borden is still a villain, or instead is just a maligned, reluctant hero desperate to save herself, her sister, and her home.

This is a brilliant book, a horror novel in the best traditions of HP Lovecraft.

Favorite Line:

If I had any sense, I’d relocate to the desert or the mountains, and be done with this whole business once and for all.

Don’t read if: you have a problem with doctors, axes, mysterious people working for shadowy government organizations, or Massachusetts.