That Ain’t Witchcraft
InCryptid, Book #8
By Seanan McGuire
Author’s Website: seananmcguire.com
Brought to you by OBS reviewer Omar
- A place where two roads cross.
- A place where bargains can be made.
- See also “places to avoid.”
Antimony Price has never done well without a support system. As the youngest of her generation, she has always been able to depend on her parents, siblings, and cousins to help her out when she’s in a pinch—until now. After fleeing from the Covenant of St. George, she’s found herself in debt to the crossroads and running for her life. No family. No mice. No way out.
Lucky for her, she’s always been resourceful, and she’s been gathering allies as she travels: Sam, fūri trapeze artist turned boyfriend; Cylia, jink roller derby captain and designated driver; Fern, sylph friend, confidant, and maker of breakfasts; even Mary, ghost babysitter to the Price family. Annie’s actually starting to feel like they might be able to figure things out—which is probably why things start going wrong again.
New Gravesend, Maine is a nice place to raise a family…or make a binding contract with the crossroads. For James Smith, whose best friend disappeared when she tried to do precisely that, it’s also an excellent place to plot revenge. Now the crossroads want him dead and they want Annie to do the dirty deed. She owes them, after all.
And that’s before Leonard Cunningham, aka, “the next leader of the Covenant,” shows up…
It’s going to take everything Annie has and a little bit more to get out of this one. If she succeeds, she gets to go home. If she fails, she becomes one more cautionary tale about the dangers of bargaining with the crossroads.
But no pressure.
“Children are blessing. Like all blessings, occasionally they’re also a curse” – Evenly Baker
Every debt has its due date and for Antimony “Annie” Price hers just got a deadline. As Annie and her friends continue their road trip across the states to get back to Portland, they make a stop in New Gravesend, Maine to rest and recharge. Cylia manages to rent a sketchy house that is perfect for them, the location is perfect, the town is perfect, everything is perfect, which Annie knows that something bad is coming up.
In the previews book, Tricks for Free, Annie in the attempt of saving herself and Sam’s life, she makes a deal with the mysterious entity that is the Crossroads and now she owes a favor to it. A few days after arriving at New Gravesend, the group meets James Smith, a sorcerer like Annie that doesn’t know how to control his power and wants to destroy the Crossroads. For this, the Crossroads asks Annie to kill James and she is free from her debt.
Now Annie is at a crossroad: kill James and be free, or die helping James kill the crossroads. Nothing is easy for Annie, but she knows that she has to protect the innocent and keep the ecosystem balanced.
I love Annie, I love all the Price children, but dear Annie is a little bit of everything. There is a difference between the sibling’s cryptozoologist background, Verity is more urban, Alex more research, and Annie is more the paranormal type, magic. But still, I love that we always see the training all of them endure that lets them survive without backup.
Since Annie took the narrative rains, we have seen her character grow up from the loony agent to the team member of their small group of misfits. Sam, Cylia, and Fern have helped keep Annie safe and sane since she had to cut ties from her family, and as a reader, I have come to like her character a lot. I really hope they all get back safe to Portland.
In this book, we get to meet Leonard Cunningham again. It seems that he really wants Annie and wants her to go back to the Covenant of St. George, he sees potential in her. I can’t wait to see how this will end, whose will is going to win at the end.
One of the things that I want to see in the future books is Annie going back home and her family meeting her small team of friends, most of all Sam. I’m pretty sure the family is going to love Sam, but I want to see how they react scientifically to him, as cryptozoologists.
Since the ghosts were first introduced in the InCryptid series and Sparrow Hill Road, I have been interested in the Crossroads and the deals they make. In this story, we learn more about the Crossroad backstory and the ghosts that serve them. I’m glad we get to see dead Aunt Mary and Rose in this story, and other characters from the Ghost Road series.
While Annie has been away from her Aeslin Mice for a while, it hurts not to hear them cheer, we get a little bit of them in this book, and they help Annie with their catechesis in her most needed time:
“In the days when the faith in the Feathered Lords was waning, came Elizabeth Evans, called Beth, the Kindly Priestess, who did find Us gathered in her yard, and say, Why, Look At You, You Must be Starving. And she did gather Us in her apron and carry Us into her Home, which would be our Home thereafter, and say, You Are Safe Here, If You Will Follow the Rules I Set – “
Who cannot love the mice, they are the best characters.
This book comes with a novella, The Measure of a Monster, which is a major spoiler for what is to come, and pure gold for the Price family.
If you are a fan of Seanan McGuire and her books, then I recommend you, That Ain’t Witchcraft. Mystical forces are working against Annie and her friends this time, but she is not alone, and she will do her best to stay true to her values while she saves the world.