Magic For Nothing
InCryptid, Book #6
By Seanan McGuire
Author’s Website: http://www.seananmcguire.com
- Not very likely to happen; not probable.
- Probably not a very good idea anyway.
- See also “bad plan.”
As the youngest of the three Price children, Antimony is used to people not expecting much from her. She’s been happy playing roller derby and hanging out with her cousins, leaving the globe-trotting to her older siblings while she stays at home and tries to decide what she wants to do with her life. She always knew that one day, things would have to change. She didn’t think they’d change so fast.
Annie’s expectations keep getting shattered. She didn’t expect Verity to declare war on the Covenant of St. George on live television. She didn’t expect the Covenant to take her sister’s threat seriously. And she definitely didn’t expect to be packed off to London to infiltrate the Covenant from the inside…but as the only Price in her generation without a strong resemblance to the rest of the family, she’s the perfect choice to play spy. They need to know what’s coming. Their lives may depend on it.
But Annie has some secrets of her own, like the fact that she’s started setting things on fire when she touches them, and has no idea how to control it. Now she’s headed halfway around the world, into the den of the enemy, where blowing her cover could get her killed. She’s pretty sure things can’t get much worse.
Antimony Price is about to learn just how wrong it’s possible for one cryptozoologist to be.
This story starts a few months after the events of Chaos Choreography, where after battling a giant snake, Verity told nationwide television that the Price family was alive and they would protect North America from the Covenant of St. George. Now, a war between the Price family and the Covenant has started, the Price family knows that they are outnumbered, and drastic measures have to be taken. One of the drastic measures is Antimony Price or Annie to her siblings; she loves her family and will do anything for them, but for a long time she hasn’t felt like she fits in the family. This time this feeling helps, Annie doesn’t look like Verity or her cousins, she doesn’t look like a Haley. Instead, she looks like her grandpa Thomas Price, who was supposed to be the last of the Price family, and she might not be recognized when she infiltrates the Covenant. Yup, you read right. Annie was asked and she accepted to go to Europa and infiltrate their sworn enemy to get information on their plans for North America, and learn what they know about her family.
From this, Timpani “Annie” Brown was born. Annie takes the alias of an orphan Carnival performer, whose Carnival and family was killed by a swarm of Apraxis wasps, and is determined to join the Covenant of St. George to avenge her family. The first weeks are hell, she is tested constantly and always being interrogated, but once her story is confirmed she is sent to a training facility. There, she starts learning about the history of the Covenant and train with other recruits and younger members of the families that form the group. For a moment Annie thinks she is going to be discovered when a Healy is ordered to train her, but the Covenant has other uses for Annie Brown. Given that she is a carny (a person that is from a Carnival) and belonged to one, the Covenant wants her to infiltrate a Carnival where teenagers have despaired, and they believe she is the best person for the job, even if it means sending her back to North America.
Now, Antimony Price is posing as a different person to infiltrate the Covenant of St. George to help her family, but at the same time going undercover to a Carnival in America as an agent of the Covenant to find if there is a need for the Covenant to purge the Carnival from evil monsters; she is doing all of this while not trying to set things on fire.
I loved Magic For Nothing. I’m not going to lie, I’m invested in this series, but even though I had read short stories that featured Antimony Price, I still loved that this was her time to shine and take the lead of the family story. For fans of the InCryptid series, this story has everything you wish in a story that finally lets us see more about the Covenant of St. George, but we also get new cryptids, carnivals, and more Aeslin mice scenes.
The first part that I liked about the book was the theme of the carnival. As I mention before, I had read short stories that feature Annie, but others mention the different members of the Healy/Price family. For me, going back to the idea of the carnival feels like a tribute to Jonathan Healy and Frances Brown, who started the North American family line of our main characters; giving that Fran came from a carnival.
After the history that the Price family has had with the Covenant of St. George, it was expected for the reader to not trust the new characters from the Covenant, but I still liked to read about them. Here we meet new members and get to know the type of chain of command that exist in the organization, and the place where they train the younger members. There is a breakfast scene that reminds me a lot to the Australian Thirty-Six Society that we meet in previous books, making it look like an all happy cozy family. The Covenant had a similar group and partners type of vibe, that makes the reader believe that they care for each other, but at the end they are just waiting to backstab somebody.
A good thing that I liked from the Covenant visit was that Annie finds a branch of their Aeslin mice colony. This colony stayed behind when Enid and Alexander Healy left the Covenant almost a hundred years ago, and their older children decided to stay with the Covenant. I always feel a sense of pride when the mice do something for their gods and priestesses; in this case, they stayed in the shadows recording and remembering the Healy bloodline that stayed, even though when they couldn’t communicate with them. For those who like the Aeslin mice and the couple that appears in this book, author Seanan McGuire released a short-story about the two mice and their journey back home. If you will like to read it, you can find it on the author’s Patreon page for a cost.
“We suspected, Priestess,” she said, with quick, almost human nod. They’d picked up the gesture from us, along with so much else about the way they lived. “Those who chose to stay and chronicle the lives of the Obedience Priestess and the God of Bitter Honesty knew they might never have a close relationship with their gods, for they were to be raised Outside the Family, by those who Did Not Understand. But still, we had a duty, and Duty Must Be Fulfilled.”
In this story, we learn more about Antimony Price. We see the world from her point of view and what she feels about her family life style. At one point, we see Annie as a true Price, she believes in their way of life, and that these strange and fantastic creatures deserve to live; but at the same time, we meet an Annie that wants her own life, wants to do what she wants like her siblings did with their own life. We also learn that Annie has more in common with her grandpa Thomas Price, and what caused him to disappear, magic. Because of this strange family gift, we see Annie interact more with her death Aunt, Mary, the babysitter of the Healy/Price family. I loved to read about the ghosts and even more supernatural creatures in the Incryptid world, and most of all the relationship that the death Aunts have with the Price family.
“Betelgeuse, Betelgeuse, Betelgeuse,” I muttered, as the Ferris wheel moved toward its highest point. The seat rocked, hard, from the extra weight of Mary appearing next to me. “I wish you wouldn’t call me that way,” she said, words doing nothing to conceal her relief.
Magic For Nothing and the Incryptid books are a great, rich, and a fantastic series that I believed everyone can get on board and like. While I do believe it will be better to also read the short-stories because they make the main series even richer, it’s okay to at least read the main series if you can, it’s worth it.
If you are a fan of Seanan McGuire, her other workers, or the Incryptid series; then I recommend Magic For Nothing. This time, is the turn of Antimony Price to travel and have her own adventure, even if it means becoming what her family has fought so long to not be, a member of the Covenant of St. George.