Review: Singing the Comic-Con Blues (InCryptid novella) by Seanan McGuire

This is just a short review of the novella that was included with Calculated Risks, hopefully next week I’ll manage to get back to posting on Wednesdays. Singing the Comic-Con Blues (as far as I can tell) is set before any of the InCryptid novels take place, so there shouldn’t be any spoilers, and I’ll be vague with my critiques so that I don’t spoil any major elements of the novella.

Image by Sarah Richter from Pixabay
As this is a free novella, there was no cover art, but I found this picture that captures the Siren element, if not the comic-con one

 I was surprised that Antimony was the narrator of this story, because the novel preceding was from Sarah’s point of view. That being said, I enjoy the InCryptid world, and I always love when a real-life event/location gets an in-world twist. In this case, having cosplay and coloured hair be an opportunity for cryptids and supernatural creatures to let their disguises slip.  

The story wrapped up pretty abruptly, but I think the real star of this novella is the character interactions. I also like the continued emphasis within the series of conservation included battle-ready violence at times, and also an understanding of the needs of endangered species.

The events of the short story get mentioned in Calculated Risks, so the short story isn’t so much about what will happen (though the fine details are revealed in the novella rather than the book), but how, and what we see of the interactions between Annie, her cousins, and her sister.

Seeing Verity and Antimony interact on-page, rather than by either sister thinking about one another/their sibling dynamics was fun. Maybe it’s the influence of the setting, but it felt a bit like a crossover. Price siblings assembling, to hunt down a monster. I probably say this in every InCryptid review, but the sibling dynamics are really well written, and I like how realistically they play into character development and friction between characters.

There are also some moments of dramatic irony that I enjoyed, thanks to the short story being set in the past. I’ll avoid being more specific than that to avoid general InCryptid spoilers, but it felt like a treat for long-term readers of the series, and also showed on-page (rather than just through exposition) that Artie and Sarah can function in the world quite effectively if they have cause.

Sarah and Artie’s will-they/won’t-though dynamic has never been overly appealing to me (I’m not a fan of romantic angst in general though, so don’t take that as a criticism of how the situation is written, just of my taste), so I was glad for the additional tension-driving elements presented by Annie going out on her own for the first time, protecting her more sheltered cousins, proving herself and refusing to be overruled by Verity. Maybe it’s optimistic, but I hope Antimony and Verity team-up for real in a future book, and really learn to appreciate and work with each other’s strengths, rather than just contrasting themselves with one another.

Considering the short length, Singing the Comic-con Blues manages to pack quite a lot of punchy interactions, and of course, some Aesling mouse Capitalization. This novella is an obvious choice to read for any fan of the InCryptid series, and might even serve as a taste-test to see if someone considering the series to see if they enjoy the writing style and characters.

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