Speed Date with Alex: HALF-OFF RAGNAROK by Seanan McGuire

Posted 20 March, 2014 | Mary @ TheBookSwarm | | 34 Comments

HALF-OFF RAGNAROK (InCryptid #3) by Seanan McGuire
Urban Fantasy
356 pages, paperback
Available now (March 2014)
Publisher: DAW
Review copy provided by publisher for honest review

When Alex Price agreed to go to Ohio to oversee a basilisk breeding program and assist in the recovery of his psychic cousin, he didn’t expect people to start dropping dead. But bodies are cropping up at the zoo where he works, and his girlfriend—Shelby Tanner, an Australian zoologist with a fondness for big cats—is starting to get suspicious.

Worse yet, the bodies have all been turned partially to stone…

The third book in the InCryptid series takes us to a new location and a new member of the family, as Alex tries to balance life, work, and the strong desire not to become a piece of garden statuary. Old friends and new are on the scene, and danger lurks around every corner.

Of course, so do the talking mice.

First Date: Much like a bad pickup line, I was a little put off by the semi-cheesy cover. However, sometimes it’s worth a second look…and Half-Off Ragnarok was totally worth a second look. A bit of a nerd (what with his love of all things reptile. Okay, so he’s a large science nerd. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.), Alex is pretty happy with his little corner of the world (until it’s time to move to the next corner, that is). He’s got a cool job at the reptile house, he’s breeding some rare basilisks, and there’s a cute zoologist from Australia that he’s been admiring. Until, of course, something nasty starts killing people and tries to kill him.

Second Date: Alex is, well, he’s a little boring (I hear his sister, Verity, is much more interesting. I’m off to check out her story next.). If this were a real date, I would probably stay until the end but there wouldn’t be any smooching. Unless…unless he brought his grandparents along. Or his pet griffin. Or maybe his colony of talking Aeslin mice (all hail the Cheese). It’s the people and creatures that surround Alex that make him interesting. In fact, they’re the reason I kept reading and really enjoyed the story as a whole. Even Alex’s girlfriend, Shelby, is intriguing and filled with secrets (plus, if the cover’s any indication, she can really rock that zookeeper outfit. Way to make an unattractive uniform look good, girl!).

Third Date: I’m super-glad I got this book to review. It introduced me to a new series, one that I need to go back to the beginning and read, especially since I hear this wasn’t the best one to start with. It reminded me that Seanan McGuire (aka Mira Grant) is a kick-ass writer who also writes the October Daye series, of which I’ve only read one and really enjoyed. Sometimes, when all the parts come together, a story just works. Sometimes, it’s the quiet ones that wind up being much more interesting than you originally thought. Sometimes, those are the books you can’t put down…or the guys you can’t quit.

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34 Responses to “Speed Date with Alex: HALF-OFF RAGNAROK by Seanan McGuire”

  1. I love Seanan McGuire/Mira Grant too. Her October Daye series is one of my Top 5 UFs, and I’ve read the first InCryptid book, but need to catch up on book 2 and this one. I’m glad this managed to make sense even though it’s the third book in the series, but with the POV change that makes sense. I am sorry that Alex was boring, but it sounds like everyone else made up for it 😉 Now, I just have to find the time to read it myself . . . Great review!

  2. Wait she is Mira Grant too? I did not know that. I listened to the first in the October Daye series and while it was not “out of the world” fantastic, it did intrigue me enough to get book 2 (since pacing was my issue and not story/writing/characters—I think I will love it). I am still not sure why I didn’t know she was Mira Grant.

    • I know! I just learned that a little bit ago. She doesn’t go out of her way to advertise her dual pen names, I don’t think (or maybe she does and I just didn’t notice).

  3. Yes I love that about a book, when it ends up being way better than you first expected, I probably wouldn’t give this book a go either, if I saw this cover in a bookstore, but I’m glad that you did and ended up thoroughly enjoying it! Fab review Mary! 🙂

  4. That’s definitely not the best cover and one I might otherwise gloss right over, but you did mention a pet griffin which suddenly made this book WAY more interesting. Ditto the talking mice. Glad that despite Alex being a touch boring, you still ended up really enjoying this one. Looking forward to your thoughts on his sister!

  5. I love it when a book surprises you, and with that so-so cover may have been passed up. This sounds like a fun book, with great secondary characters and creatures. A pet griffin and talking mice-cool. Glad this one was a nice surprise for you, Mary 🙂

  6. I’ve never heard of Seanan McGuire before but after reading your review I will definitely be checking her books out.
    That’s definitely not a great cover, but looks aren’t everything right!?
    Loved your review!

  7. I liked but not loved Verity’s two books, and I have such high hopes for Alex because he’s exactly my type of geek, you know?
    And the Aeslin mice are just awesome! So funny, especially when Verity is trying to have a sex life with them in the apartment. 🙂
    I’m glad you ended up liking Alex. I just bought this yesterday.

  8. I’ve been wanting to read this series. I’ve also been wanting to read the October Daye series. I have like book #8 (the one with the mermaid… yea, I liked the cover… what?) but want to start at the beginning. Now I have another series to covet. I already like this author’s writing with your review and I’ve yet to read her! LOL

  9. Oh this sounds fun! I haven’t read anything by McGuire before even though I have 5 books from the October Daye series and Parasite.

  10. I’ve been meaning to pick up this series since McGuire’s October Daye Series didn’t work out for me, but I’m thrilled that this one impressed. I can’t wait to pick this up soon – wonderful review, Mary!

  11. Okay, that cover is really not doing the book any sort of favours. That said, the story sounds pretty dang good, and I’ve heard nothing but great things from the author before. I’ll have to try it someday! Great review, Mary!

  12. I’m intrigued! This sounds like a very different character and even though you said he’s kind of boring, I’m still dying of curiosity! I’ve heard she’s a brilliant author anyway. Another one to add to the TBR…

  13. YOu know I haven’t read anything by her yet. But I freaking LOVE these covers – I suppose I really need to get to it. I think this will definitely be a good one to start with. I see she has written so much now I’m going to have to go freaking really decide!

  14. You know, I never thought I noticed covers until I realized I can be snobbish about them. BUT I won’t turn down a book I”m told is good even if the cover is bad. I agree, that cover is off-putting. And anytime I hear basilisks, I think HARRY POTTER! I’m glad you wound up liking this though. Is this a series of companions or does it all follow the same couple?