Literature: InCryptid

Creative camouflage for the modern urban cryptozoologist.

InCryptid is an Urban Fantasy series by Seanan McGuire, author of the October Daye series. She also wrote Newsflesh and Parasitology series as Mira Grant.

The creatures known as cryptids are real, and have shared the earth with mankind since time immemorial. For centuries, a religious order known as The Covenant of St. George has been defending and protecting unknowing humanity by slaying cryptids wherever they encounter them. But a schism occurred in the ranks, and one Covenant agent and his wife left the order, never to return. They and their descendants, now hunted by the Covenant, dedicated their lives to studying cryptids, learning their ecological purpose, and only harming them when no other method of dealing with their presence would work.

The Healy and Price families operate with the knowledge that the Covenant considers them traitors and wants them dead. The cryptid community knows that the families are no longer Covenant — but they are not uniformly convinced that it isn't a trick. So the family must train to survive both the cryptids who don't trust them, and the Covenant who still think of them as filthy traitors.

The youngest generation of the Price family consists of Alex, zookeeper; Antimony, still studying; Verity, who wants to forgo the family business and be a ballroom dancer, but has to prove to the family she can survive on her own first; and Arthur, reclusive part-incubus geekboy.

The series so far (in chronological order for the storyline) consists of:

  • Jonathan Healy and Frances Brown, 1928: (currently readable on the author's webpage) all short stories so far:
    • "The Flower of Arizona"
    • "One Hell of A Ride"
    • "No Place Like Home"
    • "Stingers and Strangers"
    • "Married in Green"
    • "Sweet Poison Wine"
    • "The First Fall"
    • "Loch and Key"
    • "We Both Go Down Together"
    • "Oh Pretty Bird"
    • "Bury Me in Satin"
    • "Snakes and Ladders"
    • "Broken Paper Hearts"

  • The Price Family, 2012 to present:
    • Novel: Discount Armageddon
    • Novel: Midnight Blue-Light Special
    • Short Story: "Daughter of the Midway, the Mermaid, and the Open, Lonely Sea" (appearing in the anthology book Carniepunk)
    • Short Story: "Blocked" starring Antimony, on the author's webpage for InCryptid short stories.
    • Short Story: "Bad Dream Girl" starring Antimony (appearing in the anthology book Glitter and Mayhem)
    • Short Story: "IM" starring Arthur
    • Novel: Half-Off Ragnarok
    • Short Story: "Jammed" starring Antimony (appearing in the anthology book Games Creatures Play)
    • Short Story: "The Ghosts of Bourbon Street", on the author's webpage for InCryptid short stories.
    • Novel: Pocket Apocalypse, TBA
    • Novel: Professional Gore-eography, TBA

  • The Cryptids, Present Day: Short stories, so far:
    • "Red as Snow" starring Istas and Ryan (appears in anthology Fiction River: Hex and the City)
    • "Black as Blood" starring Istas and Ryan on the author's webpage for InCryptid short stories.
    • "White as a Raven's Wing" starring Istas and Ryan on the author's webpage for InCryptid short stories.

Provides examples of:

  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: Truth in Television. In modern day New York City; a lot of the sewers are really big, and some of the big tunnels are outdated subway tunnels.
  • Affectionate Gesture to the Head: One of the cultist guys ruffles Verity's hair affectionately while monologuing about how helpless she is.
  • All There in the Manual: There's a guide to cryptids known to the families on the author's webpage.
  • Another Dimension: Several.
    • There's the Hell dimension through which Jonathan and Fran's train passes briefly.
    • There's the Netherworld, The Christian Hell, the dimension where a friendly Naga operates as a professor, and some as-yet-unnamed alternate dimension in which Verity's grandfather is lost.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: Cryptids secrete and bleed it.
    • Dragon blood
    • Johrlac blood
    • Tooth fairy dust
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: Dominic and Verity in the tunnels beneath New York.
  • Badass Family: The Healys and Prices, all of whom are familiar with guns, bombs, poisons, explosives, etc, and who each specialize in one particular form of mayhem.
  • Beat: It takes a minute for people to realize that the dragon is not only awake but just smushed a person like a bug.
  • Big Applesauce: Verity is in New York studying humanoid cryptids. But other than Central Park the locations are all sort of vague.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Some allies turn up Just in Time to save Verity.
  • Bizarre Taste in Food: The Price family, human or not, could give Shaggy and Scooby a run for their money.
    • Sarah: who likes Ketchup and tonic water, among other odd combinations. This is also true for her mother.
    • Antimony: who likes Captain Crunch on cold pizza.
  • Bizarre Sexual Dimorphism: Dragons and wadjets have a really extreme case of this.
  • Blank White Eyes: Sarah gets them when using her abilities.
  • Blood Magic:
    • Jonathan covers every entryway on the house in lamb's blood to prevent the Easter Bunny gaining entry to the home.
  • Bridal Carry: No romance involved, just one therianthrope looking out for another.
  • Can Not Spit It Out: Sarah and Artie regarding their mutual affection.
  • Canon Welding: The second book references the routewitches from McGuire's Sparrow Hill Road stories, and Rose Marshall herself shows up in the short story "The Ghosts of Bourbon Street".
  • Chameleon Camouflage: The Sleestaks, as well as several other cryptids.
  • Comes Great Responsibility: The very reputation of Verity and her family name comes with great responsibility to live up to protecting and serving non-hostile cryptids.
  • Crappy Carnival: Subverted. The Carnival Fran came from that Juniper still calls home is actually a fairly nice one most of the time.
  • Creator In-Joke:
  • Cult: Humans who think they'll get power by messing with/sacrificing cryptids.
  • Cute Monster Girl: Starting with the Gorgons, and going on to the female Bogeyman...
  • Dance Battler/Kick Chick: Verity Price.
  • Day Hurts Dark-Adjusted Eyes: Dominic does not close his eyes fast enough when Verity tells him to.
  • Dating Catwoman: Verity and Dominic; Verity's grandparents Alice and Thomas.
  • Did We Just Have Tea with Cthulhu?: Verity, Dominic, and Sarah all have a rather pleasant conversation with the ancient dragon beneath Manhattan.
  • Dies Wide Open: The way Frances Healy was when found by Jonathan and Enid.
  • Disappeared Dad: See Missing Mom, below. There's also the fact that Verity's grandfather is missing, making him disappeared dad to her mother.
  • Doorstop Baby: Little Fran was left outside the flap of the main tent of the circus she grows up to perform with.
  • Dramatic Drop: Fran drops her knives the first time she encounters an Aeslin mouse.
  • Dual Wielding: Fran can do this with guns. It's likely other members of the family are also able to do the same with their weapons of choice.
  • Dumb Blonde: Verity objects to having her hair taken as indicating her intelligence.
  • Elegant Gothic Lolita: Istas, the Badass therianthrope waitress.
  • Empty Fridge Empty Life: Verity's fridge is shared with the Aeslin mice, and the mice's shelves are better stocked.
  • Enemy Mine: Verity is freelance, hated by the Covenant. Dominic is Covenant. But the working together out of mutually agreeable goals and mutual attraction until they fall in love and Dominic defects.
  • Escape Artist: Part of the Healy and Price family training.
  • Evil Gloating: The cultists, to Verity.
  • Facebook: One of the ways Verity uses to determine how sentient a cryptid is.
  • The Fair Folk
  • Famous Last Words: Considered a bad idea by the family in general, too much like Tempting Fate.
  • Flipping the Bird: It's New York. There's a strip bar. It's gonna happen.
  • Follow in My Footsteps: Generation after generation. Verity tries to buck it, but eventually wholeheartedly embraces the family business.
    • Fran recognizes early on that Alice is going to do the same, even though her father would prefer she grow up to be a lady who lives a nice, safe life.
  • Foreshadowing: Fran's death in "Broken Paper Hearts" was heavily foreshadowed.
  • Genre Savvy: Little Alice Healy has read enough fairy tales to be irritated when her mice won't help her like Cinderella's did ... and to judiciously apply a lesson from another fairy tale instead.
  • Geometric Magic: Circles of protection help to defend homes and campsites against certain cryptids. The circles also require specific ingredients in some cases.
    • There are also protective runes. Enid Healy knows how to stitch them. They're done in unobtrusive thread on all the pillowcases in the house (at least).
  • Gorgeous Gorgon: At least two different varieties.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: some merfolk, and any cryptid that can breed true with a human partner.
  • Halloween Episode: inasmuch as literature has them: "Snakes and Ladders" tells the story of Alice Healy's first Halloween.
  • Heroic BSOD:
    • Cousin Sarah after stopping the bad guys in Midnight Blue Light Special in a way that would keep those endangered safe.
    • Fran and Jonathan in "The First Fall".
    • Jonathan and Alice in "Broken Paper Hearts"
  • Honorary Family:
    • Verity's Uncle Mike isn't related to her, but his family and the Prices have been friends for several generations.
    • Rose Marshall and Mary Dunleavy, although ghosts, are both considered "aunts" to the family.
  • How Do I Shot Web?:
    • Ghostly Mary Dunleavy is only just learning how to be a ghost. Fran knows more about it than she does.
    Fran: You're a goddamn ghost! Do I need to get you an instruction book? Walk through the door!
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: from "Red as Snow":
    Istas: Ryan? Are you ready to rock? (Ryan is a Tanuki, who can turn himself to stone)
  • Infant Immortality: Subverted in "The First Fall".
  • Inner Monologue:
    • Verity's narration.
    • Cousin Sarah also narrates this way.
    • As does Alex.
    • And Istas.
  • Insult of Endearment: Dominic to Verity most often.
  • Interspecies Adoption: Verity's human mother was raised by the world's first nonsociopathic cuckoo.
  • Interspecies Romance:
    • Uncle Mike is a human married to an ocean cryptid. The Bakers are also this, a revenant and a cuckoo. Ditto the Harringtons— human and incubus.
    • There's an entire New England town of oceangoing cryptids; some of them have human partners.
  • Jerkass:
    • A lot of the patrons at Dave's: drunken businessmen at a strip club acting like jerks? Who'd'a thunk?
    • The entire town the Healy farm borders on. Fran disdains them for that, but their tendency to ignore and rationalize helps keep the Healy family from gaining too much unwanted attention.
  • Knife Nut:
    • Frances Brown.
    • Verity Price.
  • Knife-Throwing Act:
    • The Fabulous Fran, before meeting Jonathan Healy.
    • Studying with The Incredible Christopher is how Verity got so good at throwing knives.
  • Knowledge Broker: Several:
    • Dave the Bogeyman for "dirt on the street" type stuff. This is apparently a specialty of the bogeyman community.
    • Verity's father for historical data and her Aunt Jane for cybergossip.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Sarah very carefully and clearly reminds Verity that tracking down a car by sight alone is not as easily done as it is on Criminal Minds.
  • Land Down Under: The Covenant took one look at Australia's native animals and collectively flipped their lids.
  • Le Parkour: More described as free running by Verity, distinct from Parkour.
  • Let's Dance: When Verity says this, she means it more literally than usual.
  • Loss of Identity: One variety of merfolk is born looking and behaving human. But shortly after puberty, any exposure to water will bring forth their oceangoing nature. Saltwater makes it happen faster; and the land memory erodes as fast as the sea traits return, eventually leaving a typical merperson out of myth who may only barely remember anything about those they knew and loved on dry land.
  • Magitek: Technology made just for cryptids, such as darks - the literal opposite of electric lights - for cryptids that don't deal well with light.
  • Mama Bear:
    • You do not want to get in between Frances Healy and her baby.
    • Ryan's mother, justified because their species of cryptid is endangered.
  • Male Gaze: Verity's hunting clothes for clubbing. Verity's work uniform at Dave's Fish and Strips. Verity's costumes for her dance competitions. All designed for maximum sex appeal.
  • Masquerade: Dominic is horrified by Verity's cavalier attitude towards it; Verity promptly jumps up on a table and describes the substance of their conversation to everyone in the room. Not surprisingly, she's met with laughter and rolled eyes.
  • Mexican Standoff:
    • Fran and Jonathan in 1928.
    • Verity and Dominic in 2012.
  • Mind Control: All Cuckoos are capable of it at a nearly unconscious level.
  • Mind Over Manners: Sarah and her mother developed their telepath ethics from watching Babylon 5.
  • Missing Mom:
    • Fran ended up with the circus because someone left her outside the tent. She used to hope for her Missing Mom to find her, before giving up.
    • Missing mothers (and occasionally fathers) are a commonplace happening in a town full of human-appearing merfolk. Once they reach the age of reproducing, exposure to water brings out their seabound nature, and slowly erodes their memory of life on land that Fran and Jonathan must visit.
    • As of "Broken Paper Hearts" Alice Healy loses her mother to an as-yet-undertermined cryptid attack on Valentine's eve.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters
    • Questing Beast (Snake/Cougar)
    • Fricken (Frog/Chicken).
  • Mouse World: The attic of the Healy house, and the closet of Verity's semilegal sublet. Dollhouses and birdhouses make lovely mouse residences.
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: The name "Price" in universe. Cryptids know of the family's reputation and don't entirely trust it.
  • Nice to the Waiter: Sarah doesn't worry about paying for her coffee, but she does make sure to tip the waitress...usually.
  • Non-Malicious Monster: frequently seen with creatures like the cockatrice.
  • Non-Mammal Mammaries: A lot of the female cryptids have such anatomical anomalies.
  • Not Evil, Just Misunderstood: Several of the cryptids in the series. But one example in particular from "Snakes and Ladders":
    Alice: You're not gonna eat me?
    Snake Man: [whose name is revealed upon proper introductions] I try not to eat anything that converses with me. It seems rude.
  • Offscreen Teleportation: Bogeymen can do this as a natural talent.
  • Oh, Crap: Paraphrased as the header to one of the chapters by one of Verity's ancestors, and spoken verbatim by Uncle Mike in Midnight Blue Light Special.
  • "Open!" Says Me: When Frances Healy wants in, and you don't let her in, her shotgun is how she knocks (the door off its hinges).
  • Our Cryptids Are More Mysterious: Justified, in that many of the cryptids in the series are of human intelligence, and know that keeping their existence secret also keeps them safe and alive.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: The Dragon Princesses are not the way the fairy tales would have you believe. It would give away too much to explain how.
  • Our Gargoyles Rock: Pun intended.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: Depending on the type of ghost.
    • Rose Marshall is a road ghost, as is Mary Dunleavy. They can both become human-solid for a little while if a live person loans them clothing to wear.
  • Over-the-Shoulder Carry: What's the best way to get out of a bloody cult chamber when you have neither clothes nor shoes? Get your buff Love Interest to toss you over his shoulder.
  • The Password Is Always Swordfish: The family has code phrases for when they meet up in case of enemy traps, shapeshifting, or magic.
  • Perpetual Poverty: The family as a whole is financially solvent.
    • Verity, though, is barely making it on her salary, because she has to pay for rent in New York, plus ammo, plus clothes damaged in her cryptid-related activities, as well as the accoutrements of her ballroom dancing.
    • Alex is doing only a little better because he's living with his grandparents to help in Sarah's recuperation.
  • Photographic Memory/Genetic Memory: The Aeslin mice, who treat the family's exploits as religious events and record them as holy writ.
  • Psychic Link: Sarah has one with certain members of the family, Verity in particular.
  • Punny Name: Dave's Fish and Strips, a gentleman's club staffed almost exclusively by cryptids.
  • Reality TV: In-verse, "Dance or Die", the reality show Valerie competed on.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Not quite, but both of Verity's grandmothers look much younger than they are, in one case due to spending time in alternate dimensions with time dilations, and in the other by virtue of being a very long-lived nonhuman.
    • The dragon princesses.
  • Religion of Evil: Snake cult.
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: Multiple examples.
    • Played straight: The Sleestaks and the Lindworm in Verity's time period.
    • Subverted: William the Dragon in Verity's time period, and Professor Naga in Fran & Jonathan's.
    • Justified: The Aeslinn mice.
  • Revenge: An ongoing concern of the family regarding both cryptids and the Covenant. Betty Smith in particular wants it, and is prepared to turn Verity into a fall guy to get it.
  • Sarcastic Confession: See Masquerade above.
  • Secret Identity: Valerie Pryor, competitive ballroom dancer, is Verity's public identity, making her real identity as Verity the secret one. The same is true for her brother Alex, who goes by Alex Preston.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Verity is thankful that her grandmother took shots at The Boob Fairynote  resulting in the girls of the family being modestly endowed.
    • Land of the Lost: Verity refers to an unknown creature as a Sleestak until she finds out what it really is.
    • The Bat Boy from National Enquirer fame is an actual cryptid in this 'verse.
    • Verity mentions Carmen Sandiego by way of witty banter.
    • Verity quotes the sages: "you can't always get what you want."
    • Metallica
    • Super Mario Bros.: you'll know the scene when you get to it.
    • The Incredibles: Verity specifically calls out the villain for monologuing.
    • The two cuckoos in the family are Angela Baker and Sarah Zellaby, referencing Angela Zellaby from The Midwich Cuckoos. This, like their psi-etiquette, chosen from Babylon 5, is an in-universe character choice.
    • An obscure reference to another filker: "Emerald Green" is a Pegasus-winning song. The writer of "Emerald Green" also has a song about a Siren making a living as a singer.
    • Dire Straits: Verity invokes "Money for Nothing" when having to talk to Candy about something.
    • Because Antimony reads a lot of comics, she refers to one of Verity's moves as "pulling a Gwen Stacy".
    • Super Chicken: "you knew the job was dangerous when you took it" is paraphrased here as it was in Newsflesh, making it double as Creator In-Joke.
  • "Shut Up" Kiss: Verity's way of winning an argument with Dominic. Dominic does the same to Verity later in the story, but just to genuinely get her to stop talking.
  • Spy Catsuit: Verity has one for slinking stealthily around the rooftops at night.
  • Squick: Dominic's reaction to seeing Sarah do first aid on him.
    • Verity's hinted-at description of Tooth Fairy feeding habits.
    • Verity's description of Gorgon hygiene involving head-snake waste elimination.
  • Switching P.O.V.: Sarah takes over narration duties in Midnight Blue-Light Special for a few chapters after Verity is knocked unconscious and taken prisoner by the Covenant.
  • Taken for Granite: Basilisks.
  • Tanuki: Ryan, the bouncer at Dave's, is one.
  • Tarot Troubles: Inverted. Fran asks Juniper to read her fortunes and to tell her that her dead child's soul is resting easy.
  • Telepathy: Natural talent for the cuckoos.
  • They Fight Crime: She's a ballroom dancer slash strip club waitress! He's a church-trained uptight guy with no clue about the way of the world. They hunt dangerous cryptids!
  • They Would Cut You Up: Strongly implied to be the Covenant's method of "study" when dealing with and capturing a cryptid they have little knowledge on.
  • Thicker Than Water: Some cryptids don't care; the rest really care.
  • Time Skip:
    • Fran and Jon's timeline to Verity's.
    • From the prologue of Discount Armageddon to the first chapter.
    • This may end up being a series-wide trope as Midnight Blue Light Special opens the same way. Ditto Half-Off Ragnarok. The epilogue also does a six week time skip.
  • Title In: Each chapter begins with a location and status check for Verity and Alex.
    • Fran's stories each begin with a date and location check.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Be prepared for a raucous cheer if you offer the Aeslin mice CHEESE AND CAKE!!!
  • Unicorn: Amongst the cryptids encountered by the families, and the reason for their schism with the Covenant.
  • Valentine's Day Episodes: "Broken Paper Hearts" tells the story of Alice's first school-age Valentine's day.
  • Van Helsing Hate Crimes: The Covenant's modus operandi, and the source of their conflict with the Prices.
  • Virgin Power: Why so many female cryptids are vanishing.
  • Virgin Sacrifice: Snake cults tend to think this important.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: The Covenant