Review: Imaginary Numbers (InCryptid #9) by Seanan McGuire

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I’m not a huge fan of this cover only because Sarah’s facial expression is a bit creepy, but she is described in the book as ‘doll like’ so I suppose it’s accurate. I love the background though, and I’m glad to see a cover that actually relates to the book

The ninth book in the fast-paced InCryptid urban fantasy series returns to the mishaps of the Price family, eccentric cryptozoologists who safeguard the world of magical creatures living in secret among humans.Sarah Zellaby has always been in an interesting position. Adopted into the Price family at a young age, she’s never been able to escape the biological reality of her origins: she’s a cuckoo, a telepathic ambush predator closer akin to a parasitic wasp than a human being. Friend, cousin, mathematician; it’s never been enough to dispel the fear that one day, nature will win out over nurture, and everything will change.

Maybe that time has finally come.

After spending the last several years recuperating in Ohio with her adoptive parents, Sarah is ready to return to the world–and most importantly, to her cousin Artie, with whom she has been head-over-heels in love since childhood. But there are cuckoos everywhere, and when the question of her own survival is weighed against the survival of her family, Sarah’s choices all add up to one inescapable conclusion.

This is war. Cuckoo vs. Price, human vs. cryptid…and not all of them are going to walk away.


This book did great things for the series, but I wasn’t invested enough in Sarah’s storyline to love the book in its own right. I think the setting in this book wasn’t as inherently fun as the previous InCryptid novels, the Price family compound wasn’t as interesting as I’d hoped, and by plain fun standards just couldn’t hold up to a carnival, a monster strip club, an amusement park, a circus, a zoo or a foreign country: the rest of the series set high, high standards for setting, and I don’t feel like Imaginary Numbers stacked up.

Learning more about Cuckoos was great, and the ending of this book was fantastic. I loved the worldbuilding and genuinely touching moments that the Aeslin mice facilitated, and this series never fails to present a large, complex, and most importantly believable family for main characters to exist within. That may also have been why I failed to truly enjoy Sarah as a narrator/main character. Her role in the family was less well-defined, making it harder to relate to her. Her relationship with Artie has also been treated as a foregone conclusion in previous books, making the romantic subplot less able to drive tension in the novel.

I loved Mark, and learning more about various cryptid species is always a fascinating part of the world Seanan McGuire has created with the InCryptid world. There’s some casual (but not dismissive) LGBT representation, and so much happens for the plot of the series overall-especially if the short story included at the end of the book is considered. The plot is great, fast-moving, while still allowing for character moments, and while Sarah and Artie’s relationship isn’t surprising, it also doesn’t become angsty, overblown or tedious.

Overall, Imaginary Numbers was a good book, and a great installment in the InCryptid series. If you haven’t read the preceding books in the series—don’t be fooled by the change of narrator, you’ll be lost if you try to pick up the series here. Start at Discount Armageddon  (book one) to get full enjoyment from this series. Fans of Ilona Andrews The Edge series, Shelly Laurenston’s Pride novels, VE Schwab’s Shades of magic or urban fantasy fans in general will thoroughly enjoy the InCryptid novels, and fans of the series should absolutely check out Imaginary Numbers.

 

Bonus Review—Follow the Lady (InCryptid 8.5)

SPOILERS WITHIN FOR THAT AIN’T WITCHCRAFT, READ AT YOUR OWN RISK

This is a brief story detailing a pit stop Antimony and co made on their way back to the Price compound, with the main tension in the story comes from Antimony encountering Alice. Alice finds out about the death of the crossroads and considers what that means for Thomas, and Sam gets to see cryptids living peacefully in the open. There’s no life threatening drama or ultra-tense plot, just Antimony’s friends learning a bit more about her family and her world, and some hints at Alice and Thomas’s story that remains one of the most compelling parts of this already incredibly gripping series. Follow the Lady is dessert following the huge changes that happen in Imaginary Numbers, and it serves well in that role.

 

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