I am a huge fan of Seanan McGuire’s InCryptid series, which, for the uninitiated is amazing.
1. Any creature whose existence has been suggested but not proven scientifically. Term officially coined by cryptozoologist John E. Wall in 1983.
2. That thing that’s getting ready to eat your head.
3. See also: “monster.”
The Covenant of St. George was founded to uphold one simple ideal: anything that was not present on the Ark—anything they deemed “unnatural”—needed to be destroyed. Monsters. Creatures of myth and legend. All of them would be wiped from the Earth in the name of Man’s dominion. Unfortunately for them, not all the monsters agreed with this plan…and neither did all the human beings.
After their rather abrupt departure from the Covenant, Alexander and Enid Healy found themselves alone in the world, but with a simple mission of their own: to protect the cryptids of the world from those who would harm them without just cause. It was a cause that would eventually claim both their lives, leaving their children, and their childrens’ children, to take up the fight. Now in the modern day, their descendants struggle to stay beneath the Covenant’s radar, while defending the cryptids from humanity—and humanity from the cryptids.
The main books are all set in the modern day, following the lives, deaths, and loves of the Healy’s great-great-grandchildren. Luckily for us, Seanan is a kind and benevolent ruler, gifting us with little bits of the InCryptid past between novels.
These (free!) short stories feature the adventures of the first generation of Healy cryptozoologists after their dramatic defection from The Covenant.
To date, Seanan has published 8 trips into the life and times of Fran and Jonathan Healy, with more on the way. But how do they stack up against the main series?
The Flower of Arizona – In which Jonathan Healy meets his future wife and immediately learns that women in the Wild West can and will kick your skinny city ass. The Aeslin Mice feature prominently. They understand that Jonathan Healy is a bit slow on the uptake. (+)
No Place Like Home – At this point we’re all beginning to suspect that Jonathan Healy is a bit austic or otherwise neurologically atypical. First time you ever brought a girl home and you’re trying to pass it off as not bringing a girl home? Hah! Good luck with that. This story is awkward for poor Fran, but a must-read for all fans of the Aeslin Mice. (+)
Married in Green – Years later and these two crazy kids are finally getting married! This fun romp is filled with foreshadowing, but becomes very sad after you read The First Fall. (+)
Sweet Poison Wine – What kind of honeymoon do cryptozoologists go on during the height of the depression? A kick-ass one! Sadly lacking in mice, but it’s probably for the best. I don’t think I’d lay odds on the Mice in a hotel run by Medusas. (+)
The First Fall – Anyone who has read the main books was probably confused before this story. The family tree at the beginning of Midnight Blue-Light Special didn’t match up with what Fran and Jonathan were showing us. Warning: these 29 pages will make you cry. (+)
Loch & Key – Family camping trips are boring. Swimming with Nessie’s American cousins is not nearly as interesting as you’d think. (-)
We Both Go Down Together – I call bullshit! Frances Brown-Healy almost slit her future husband’s throat within minutes of meeting him because he pulled a gun on her (and had a plan to get away with it). There is no goddamn way she’d just let some asshole get away with kidnapping her child. Chop him up and feed him to the fishes? Yes. Let go? No. (-)
The InCryptid Short Stories simultaneously work as an introduction to the world of the InCryptids, and extras to keep diehard fans entertained between books. You don’t need to know anything about Verity Price to follow Frances Brown – but if you do know Verity, you’ll enjoy the connections between the past and future.
(Observant Seanan fans will note I made no reference to the Toby series. I don’t care about Toby. Toby is simply taking up precious time Seanan could be spending on InCryptids, Newsflesh, and Parisitology.)