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InCryptid is an Urban Fantasy series by Seanan McGuire, author of the October Daye series. She also writes the 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 worldwide cryptid community is aware that the families are no longer Covenant — but they are not uniformly convinced that it isn't a trick. Consequently, 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.

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The youngest generation of the Price family consists of Alex, zookeeper; Verity, who wanted to forego the family business and be a ballroom dancer; Antimony, still studying; Arthur, reclusive part-incubus geek boy and researcher; Sarah, babysitting Verity; and Elsie, who isn't really a cryptozoologist but is still held to the family code of conduct. Their parents, aunts, uncles, and assorted cousins, both biological and adopted, human and not, operate as support and information network.

Now has a character page. Please put character-specific tropes there.

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

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    Jonathan and Frances 
  • Jonathan Healy and Frances Brown, 1928-1945: (all short stories, mostly readable on the author's webpage and in published anthologies )
    • "The Flower of Arizona", February 2012. (appearing in the anthology Westward Weird)
    • "One Hell of A Ride"
    • "No Place Like Home"
    • "Stingers and Strangers", May 2014. (appearing in the anthology Dead Man's Hand)
    • "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 Star of New Mexico"

     Alice and Thomas 
  • Alice Healy and Thomas Price, c. 1954-
    • "The Way Home"
    • "The Lay of the Land"
    • "Target Practice"
    • "Take the Shot" (this and all following Alice and Thomas shorts are on the author's Patreon)
    • "Winter Sunshine"
    • "Off-Balance"
    • "All That Glitters"
    • "What You Pay For"
    • "What You Build"
    • "The Hand of the Forest"
    • "By Any Other Name"
    • "To Build a Better..."
    • "Halfway Through the Wood" (this is a short novel rather than a short story)
    • "School Belles"
    • "Long Way From Home"
    • Novella: And Sweep Up the Wood (appears at the end of Spelunking through Hell)

     The Price Family 
  • The Price Family, 2012 to present:
    • Novel: Discount Armageddon: Verity must prove to the family she can survive on her own before giving up cryptozoology for ballroom dancing professionally.
    • Novel: Midnight Blue-Light Special: Verity faces the Covenant.
    • 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 and Sarah, after the events of Midnight Blue-Light Special
    • Novel: Half-Off Ragnarok: Alex pretends to be a reptile expert in Columbus, Ohio, stumbling onto a bigger issue.
    • 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.
    • Short Story: "Snake in the Glass", on the author's webpage for InCryptid short stories.
    • Short Story: "Swamp Bromeliad", on the author's webpage for InCryptid short stories.
    • Short Story: "Waking Up in Vegas", on the author's webpage for InCryptid short stories.
    • Short Story: "Survival Horror," starring Antimony and Artie (appearing in the anthology book Press Start to Play)
    • Novel: Pocket Apocalypse: Alex goes to Australia.
    • Novel: Chaos Choreography: Released on March 1, 2016, Verity and Alice Healy-Price. All spoilers from Chaos Choreography are marked.
    • Short Story: Sleepover November 2016. Elsie Harrington. (Appearing in the anthology book Shadowed Souls)
    • Novel: Magic For Nothing: March 2017. Antimony gets a really important mission from the family.
    • Novella: "The Recitation of the Harrowing Pilgrimage of Mindy and Also Mork": immediate sequelette to Magic for Nothing starring the Aeslin Mice named in the title, plus Sam, Aunt Mary, Emery and some members of the Spenser Carnival. Published originally on the author's Patreon, now available in the back of Tricks For Free.
    • Novel: Tricks for Free: March 2018. Antimony Price vs. a cut rate version of your favorite amusement park.
    • Novel: That Ain't Witchcraft: March 2019. Antimony Price and friends take on an eldritch horror.
    • Novella: The Measure of a Monster: now available in the back of That Ain't Witchcraft. Takes place soon after Alex and Shelby have returned from Australia (and the events of Pocket Apocalypse.) A tangential comment by Mary in That Ain't Witchcraft probably relates to this novella. Also, Sarah has recovered sufficiently from the events of Midnight Blue-Light Special to play an especially significant role.
    • Novella: Follow the Lady: available in the back of Imaginary Numbers. Antimony and her friends pass through Buckley, Michigan, the place where Thomas disappeared.
    • Novel: Imaginary Numbers: released February 25, 2020. Sarah Zellaby, a johrlac/"cuckoo" and adoptive cousin of the Prices, is heading home to Oregon after healing from the events of Midnight Blue-Light Special. Unfortunately, other cuckoos have sinister plans for her.
    • Novel: Calculated Risks: February 2021. Focuses on Sarah and her allies immediately after the events at the end of Imaginary Numbers. Includes the novella Singing the Comic-Con Blues (set before Discount Armageddon).
    • Novel: Spelunking Through Hell: March 2022. Alice Price-Healy travels across dimensions searching for her husband.
    • Novel: Backpacking Through Bedlam

     The Cryptids 
  • The Cryptids, Present Day: Short stories, so far:
    • "Daughter of the Midway, the Mermaid, and the Open, Lonely Sea", starring a half-mermaid teen & the family attempting to help. (appearing in the anthology book Carniepunk)
    • "Red as Snow", starring Istas and Ryan (appears in the 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.
    • "Balance" starring Eliza, a johrlac/"cuckoo" (appears in the anthology Urban Enemies).
    • "What Was I Meant To Do?", starring Verity's former Bad Boss Dave the bogeyman, on the author's Patreon.

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. The bogeyman population has constructed what look like sewers and drainage tunnels, but are clean and not filthy to facilitate their nocturnal, agoraphobic, and subterranean lifestyle.
  • Accidental Engagement: Alex jokingly asks Shelby to marry him halfway through book three. She says yes... in the fourth book, which takes place a year later. By the end of the book, he's perfectly willing to go along with it.
  • Adoring the Pests: The whole Price family loves cryptids and tries to protect them against people who would harm them, but Grandma Alice takes it even further by letting tailypo (imagine a smarter raccoon with a really long tail) live in and around her house in Buckley. The whole family also lives with the Aeslin mice, though they can talk and follow orders from their "gods" (the family), so they're hardly "pests".
  • Affectionate Gesture to the Head: One of the cultist guys ruffles Verity's hair affectionately while monologuing about how helpless she is.
  • After Action Patch Up: Commonplace in all the novels and some of the short stories. Cryptozoology is not a safe science.
  • Afterlife Express: Played with. In One Hell of a Ride, Jonathan and Fran's train slips into a hell dimension (which somehow still has train tracks), and have to defend themselves and the passengers from murderous imps.
  • Age-Gap Romance:
    • Thomas Price meets Alice Healy when she's 16 and he's 26. They don't marry until she's 22, though.
    • Theodore Harrington is 33 years older than his wife Jane Price.
  • Alien Autopsy: When a dead Johrlac falls into the family's hands, they dissect her For Science!, since she would have killed them, and they may never get another chance to examine the insides of one. It turns out to be a minor Chekhov's Classroom in the next book when Sarah is stabbed in the abdomen and asks Antimony if any vital organs were damaged.
  • Alien Gender Confusion: Sarah's a member of a telepathic race (Johrlac, or cuckoos) mildly affected by this. Because cuckoos tell people apart by their minds, they had no evolutionary need to recognize faces, making them essentially face-blind. Because of the telepathy, Sarah can generally tell what gender someone is — but not what gender they're presenting as. She doesn't have issues most of the time, but she tells us that she's made mistakes in the past.
  • Alien Sky: At the end of Imaginary Numbers, Sarah looks out the window and sees a bright orange sky, with a giant centipede undulating through it.
  • The Alleged House: The Covenant bought the Parrish Place for Thomas Price to live in when they sent him to Buckley. They hadn't had it inspected beforehand, and when Thomas gets there it's falling apart. He spends much of his time repairing and redecorating. After he gets Trapped in Another World, his wife Alice retains ownership of the house and stays in it when she's not in Another Dimension looking for him, but it's still in terrible shape. Verity and Dominic spend a night there, with Verity explaining that despite its reputation as the home of the mad murderer Abraham Parrish, it's not haunted (her own ghost Honorary Aunt can vouch for that).
  • All Myths Are True: Played straight, played with and subverted on several occasions.
    • Lamia are not actually snake gods who can bestow power on people who sacrifice humans to them. The residual magic they carry from passing through dimensions can be harvested though, and Naga provides Alice with Power Tattoos.
    • Although she's a succubus, Elsie is a lesbian.
    • The Seal of Solomon binds demons and certain dead things but succubi and incubi are not actually demons. The D&D manuals get it wrong, possibly due to cryptids in their editing and publishing departments.
    • Odysseus was real, but Ithaca is actually Another Dimension (and he may not have been human).
    • There are hellish dimensions, but no indication that they're where souls go after death (the ones who don't become ghosts, that is). There's no sign of a "heaven" dimension either.
  • All There in the Manual: There's a guide to cryptids known to the families on the author's webpage.
  • Alluring Flowers: Swamp bromeliads are giant flowers that can eat mammals as large as a deer, and sometimes prey on humans. Their flowers emit an alluring scent, and the pollen has a narcotic effect that quickly incapacitates the prey.
  • Alternate Techline/Schizo Tech: Ithaca seems like an Arcadia with rustic aesthetics, but they also have refrigerators and interdimensional travel. Alice says they don't have indoor plumbing, but they apparently do have showers.
  • Always Chaotic Evil:
    • Cuckoos. It is possible to build a Cuckoo who isn't, but it takes stripping all of the prenatal psychic imprinting out of them and starting more or less from scratch (as Angela did to Sarah at a young age). The only known Cuckoo who wasn't programmed from before birth to be this was Angela Baker, who can only project telepathically, not receive. Word of God says that this is because the Johrlac's original home dimension dumped their sociopaths in a dimension next to this dimension, and, well, see "prenatal psychic programming".note 
    • They're not technically, but cryptids have to treat the Covenant of St. George this way if they want to survive. The Covenant firmly believes that anything sapient that's not human is a demon, and therefore ACE, even though they're (with the exception of the Cuckoos) not. The Cuckoos are so dangerous that Alexander Healy broke his radio silence with the Covenant to warn them that Cuckoos existed.
    • Werewolves. They're not an actual species of cryptid, but the result of a variant of the rabies virus that originated in shapeshifting cryptids and was accidentally spread to humans and other mammals. While transformed, they're wolves (or bears, or rhinos, depending on the variant of the virus the individual caught) that are nothing but mindless, aggressive beasts. This turns out to be subverted- the initial transformations are traumatic enough that they drive the victim berserk, but eventually if someone lives with it long enough they can learn to remain in control and can learn to lead a mostly normal life so long as they make sure to avoid exposing other people to their body fluids.
  • AM/FM Characterization: An appendix to each book lists a number of songs inspiring the adventures of its lead character. Verity during a major fight scene in Discount Armageddon brings her own soundtrack to a fight with Dragon blood-infused lizard-men.
  • Amnesiac Resonance: In Calculated Risks, after Sarah accidentally deletes Antimony, Artie, James, and Mark's memories of her, Antimony and Artie, her cousins, struggle to reconcile their childhood memories that now make no sense without her.
  • Amplified Animal Aptitude:
    • Crow, the church griffin, is smarter than the average bird-cat mashup, and griffins in general are smarter than the creatures that are parts of them.
    • Wadjet males look exactly like cobras, but are as intelligent as humans. Give them an iPad et voila: on the internet no one knows you're a cobra with human intelligence.
  • Another Dimension: Several, to the point of being a Multiverse.
    • 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.
    • Imaginary Numbers introduces us to Johrlar, the ancestral dimension of the cuckoos.
    • The dimension Sarah, Annie, Artie, James, and Mark are transported to at the end of Imaginary Numbers, which has Big Creepy-Crawlies and 3 suns.
    • Spelunking Through Hell is almost entirely set in other dimensions, including Helos, Empusa (Naga's home world), Ithaca, Cornale, and many others.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: Cryptids secrete and bleed it. Some cause it.
    • Dragon blood is mutative and transforms humans that it comes into contact with into the reptile like "Servitors".
    • Johrlac blood is an extremely effective anticeptic and stops excess bleeding.
    • Tooth fairy dust
    • Unicorn water is the most pure water possible, making it very useful as a base for making any sort of compound where purity is important.
    • Wagyl venom can cure any disease or ailment, provided you survive the venom itself. And that's hardly a given.
  • Arcadia: Alice visits Ithaca, a dimension home to centaurs and satyrs, that's culturally similar to the original Greek Arcadia.
  • Archnemesis Dad: Istas's father goes way beyond an Abusive Parent, demanding his own daughter return to the Arctic and become his mate after he killed her mother because she wouldn't let him eat his own cubs. In the end, Istas and her two brothers kill and eat him.
  • Arranged Marriage:
    • Some cryptid species arrange marriages for their children, particularly the endangered ones. This is to ensure that their species is able to survive and continue.
    • The Covenant arranges marriages as part of a breeding program; Dominic is the result of such a marriage.
  • Artistic License – Animal Care: In Half-Off Ragnarok, Alex disposes of a body by feeding it to an alligator snapping turtle. While they'll happily eat carrion, their slow metabolism means that it would take one the better part of a year to eat that much. One certainly couldn't eat an entire human in one night and it wouldn't bother eating the larger bones (or the petrified bits).
  • Artistic License – Gun Safety: Antimony always uses throwing knives rather than guns because she sometimes uses rollerblading and circus arts in combat and can't trust that her guns wouldn't misfire. (Her dancer sister Verity also prefers knives; although she never mentions it, this is probably why.) Also, whenever characters who are usually noncombatants are drawn into action, they will be handed knives rather than guns because there isn't enough time to teach them proper gun safety.
  • Asshole Victim:
    • In Calculated Risks, Terrence is a petty thief who was only on the campus to steal painkillers and cash, and would have threatened or shot someone if Annie hadn't disarmed him. Nobody is bothered when he's eaten by a Giant Spider.
    • Donald Meyer is noted to be a wife beater, and his son David was starting to emulate his worst tendencies, but neither of them deserved to be bitten by a bidi-taurabo-haza, which liquefied their flesh down to the bone.
  • Author Appeal: Both of the Price girls' signature athletic activities (Ballroom Dance for Verity and Roller Derby and Acrobatics/Trapeze for Antimony) are described in lavish detail by their author. By contrast, Alex's SCA is left largely in the background...
    • However, his job as a herpetologist does get significant focus, since it was Seanan's job before she became a novelist. She also shows her work in Calculated Risks with characters speculating on how the physiology of the Big Creepy-Crawlies works with current biological knowledge.
    • Several characters discuss LARP and SCA in Calculated Risks and Singing the Comic-Con Blues, but it's still not seen directly.
  • Background Magic Field: Spelunking Through Hell introduces the concept of the "pneuma", or the soul of a world, that keeps it alive and can be drawn on for magic power. The Crossroads are an example of a parasitic entity that usurped the Earth's true pneuma.
  • 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.
    • The De Lucas were this until they died off. Dominic, the last of their line, marries into the Price family and takes their name, finishing the extinction of the De Luca family.
      • There are two major warrior oaths in the Covenant - "the secret and the sword" (warriors, like the Bullard, Brand, De Luca and Healy families) and "the pen and the page" (scholar-warriors, like the Price family).
    • The Tanner family, whom Alex meets in Australia, are also familiar with guns and weapons, and hunt cryptids their way.
  • Bad Powers, Good People:
    • Sarah Zellaby and Angela Baker are polite, kind, well-adjusted people who belong to a species of sociopathic mind controllers.
    • Gorgons can turn you to stone and have venomous snakes for hair but are gregarious neighbors with a strong sense of place and family.
    • Most ghouls - the only obligate carnivore in order Primates - keep themselves out of other people's hair as much as they can.
    • Elsie and Artie, son and daughter of incubus Ted Harrington, are succubus and incubus respectively. Elsie is extremely careful not to sweat or bleed around humans because they react to her pheromones and blood like an irresistible lust command. Artie, whose pheromones are stronger than those of his sister, leads an entirely reclusive life, refusing to leave the family home even in dire situations.
  • Bandage Wince: Subverted. Dominic winces before anybody touches his injury because it's worse than he thought. When the injury is actually touched, there's no wincing because of natural painkiller/anesthetic.
  • Bar Full of Aliens: Or cryptids, in this case.
    • Dave's Fish and Strips, later renamed The Freakshow, is a strip club in New York, owned by a bogeyman and staffed almost entirely by cryptids (albeit largely human-passing ones). The clientele includes some humans, but the owners figure that those not already in the know will be drunk enough that they'll just think the dancers are wearing unusual costumes.
    • The Red Angel, a bar in Buckley Township, Michigan, is owned by a huldra and has a reputation as one of the only bars in the state catering to cryptids. It seems to be avoided by Muggles, though the Price-Healy family are welcome as old friends of the owner.
  • Basilisk and Cockatrice: Basilisks and cockatrices are closely related species of cryptids (real creatures unknown to science). Scientists who know of The Masquerade (intended to keep intelligent cryptid species safe) classify them as sibling species in the same genus, Procompsognathus. The primary difference between the two is that basilisks are feathered, while cockatrices are largely featherless. Both are about the size of chickens, and both have petrification powers that science has not yet been able to explain.
  • Batman Cold Open: When the prologue isn't A Minor Kidroduction, it's usually this. For instance, the prologue of That Ain't Witchcraft is a sequence of Casual Danger Dialog between Annie and Fern as they hunt a unicorn. The first chapter has Sam and Annie, in the present day, destroy a Corn Blight that has been killing people in a small midwestern town.
  • Batman in My Basement: When Alice is away at college, she finds a baby hodag and brings it back to her dorm room until her dad or grandfather can come take it. Her roommate Laura gets a little tired of her secret pet after several weeks, during which time he has not become housebroken.
  • Bat People: The ahool could be considered this, though it's debatable whether they're intelligent enough to be counted as "people".
  • Battle Couple:
    • Alexander and Enid. Thomas remarks that they fight as a team, and it's virtually impossible to face just one of them.
    • Verity and Dominic.
    • Alex and Shelby.
    • Not technically a couple but Antimony and Fern, her closest friend in the Scream Queens roller derby league, fill the same niche in the roller derby environment.
    • The Covenant, being Equal-Opportunity Evil, used to have problems with the locals' reactions to unrelated and unmarried male and female members traveling together, so many of them made a Marriage of Convenience.
  • The Beard: When Gwendolyn Brandt comes to Buckley and announces to Thomas her intention to marry and have a child with him, Mary pretends to be his wife to get her to leave. Unfortunately, Alice comes along just as they're kissing to prove their "love" to Gwendolyn, and doesn't realize it's pretend. Thomas can't tell her it's Not What It Looks Like, since he has to maintain the ruse in front of Gwendolyn. It takes a full year before Mary has a chance to tell Alice the truth.
  • Beat: It takes a minute for people to realize that the dragon is not only awake but just smushed a person like a bug.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Mary explains that the crossroads can and do grant wishes, but they tend toward extreme Literal Genie and Jerkass Genie methods of doing so.
  • Becoming the Mask: When the Covenant sends "Timpani Brown" undercover to the Carnival, they become afraid that she has started to follow and genuinely like the carnival. Of course, she was never on the Covenant's side to begin with.
  • Benevolent Monsters: Most sapient cryptids (the more fearsome-looking include dragons, chupacabra, and gorgons) are no more good or evil than any given human, and the non-sapient ones are as incapable of being evil as any mundane animal. The real villains are the Covenant of St. George, who want to exterminate all non-human sapients and many of the non-sapients. The major exception is the Johrlac species, of which almost all known members are, if not Always Chaotic Evil, operating on such Blue-and-Orange Morality that it makes no difference. The few non-sociopathic Johrlac are definitely Benevolent Monsters, though they look physically indistinguishable from humans.
  • Beware the Mind Reader: Cuckoos (or Johrlac) are telepathic, allowing them to read the minds of others. They're also monsters who prey on humans. They use their mental abilities to ingrain themselves into the lives of their prey, by making the prey believe that the Johrlac were always there. They then create chaos for those hapless victims often leading to death.
  • Big Applesauce: Verity is in New York studying humanoid cryptids. But other than Central Park, the locations are all sort of vague.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: In the alien dimension Sarah, Annie, Artie, James, and Mark end up in, there are train-sized centipedes and millipedes that fly through the sky, and a giant Slaying Mantis and Giant Spiders show up after dark. Antimony and Sarah speculate on how they manage to avoid the Square-Cube Law, theorizing that they have lungs instead of tracheae, like Earth insects do.
  • Big Damn Reunion:
    • Sarah and Artie in Imaginary Numbers. They even kiss for the first time. And then it all goes to shit.
    • Alice and Thomas in Spelunking Through Hell. Though they fight for a while before the Reunion Kiss that's been 50 years coming.
  • Bigfoot, Sasquatch, and Yeti: In the first two books, Verity is renting an apartment from a sasquatch who's on vacation.note  She mentions that Bigfoot and Sasquatch are two closely related species, and enjoy pranking each other. The advent of depilatory products, mail-order shoe catalogs, and the internet have made life much easier for them in some ways, as without the hair they just look like very large humans, and those who choose not to shave can sometimes make even more money telecommuting.
    • The Yowie is a sort of Australian Sasquatch, though their hair and skin is green, making them less likely to live among humans. They typically hang out in bogs, though it isn't known whether they do so because they like it or if it's just because that's the only place where they can easily hide from humans given their size and coloration.
  • Binomium ridiculus: Largely averted in the field guide for the series on the author's website (Seanan McGuire studied herpetology in college), but lampshaded with the cactus cat:
    It must first be noted that whomever thought of using "Cataceae" as the genus for the cactus cat deserves to be glared at. "Cactaceae" is the genus name for the common (vegetable) cactus. Puns do not belong in species taxonomy.
    • The scientific name for bogeymen is Vestiarium sapiens (thinking closet).
  • Bittersweet Ending:
    • Magic for Nothing. The Spenser carnival is safe for the moment. But Antimony's cover has been blown to the Covenant. She can't use any of Artie's false documentation because she's in hiding to protect the family from the Covenant. She and Sam were falling in love but had to separate because staying with him and thereby the carnival, would endanger everyone. So she's now walking alone on the road with a new identity and no one but Aunt Mary from the family she can see or talk to.
    • Halfway Through the Wood. The bidi-taurabo-haza is killed (as well as Gwendolyn, who released it in the first place, but only Mary knows that), but not before killing Enid Healy and five other people, and almost killing Alice. Because of Thomas's Honor Before Reason, he refuses to tell Alice about the deal he made with the Crossroads to save her life, so he also can't tell her why he can't leave the house anymore, which she interprets as him not being interested in her.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: Many cryptids, even the ones who look mostly human. Special mention goes to the Cuckoos, who are technically mammals but also technically wasps. It's complicated. Probably due to them being native to Another Dimension.
  • Bizarre Alien Sexes: Laidly worms have four sexes/genders: the humanoid males and females, and the dragonlike drakes and jennys. Unfortunately, only one is left, a female.
  • Bizarre Sexual Dimorphism: Dragons and wadjets and ukupani have a really extreme case of this, with one gender looking essentially like humans and the other gender looking like... not humans. Ukupani males can shapeshift into a Shark Man or fully shark form, though.
  • Bizarre Taste in Food: The Price family, human or not, could give Shaggy and Scooby a run for their money.
    • All the Johrlac/Cuckoos in the family have an odd tomato fixation gustatorily speaking.
      • Sarah likes Ketchup and tonic water, among other odd combinations.
      • Her mother Angela likes Spaghetti sauce with ginger.
    • Antimony is a fully human family member who likes Captain Crunch on cold pizza.
    • It's questionable whether this is exactly to Verity's taste, but she's perfectly capable of stomaching a fajita made from leftover Chinese takeout. However, the leftover pizza omelets are entirely on her.
    • According to Sarah, Artie's favorite sandwich is grape jelly and tuna fish on raisin bread.
    • Sally makes a sandwich out of blueberry Eggos, peanut butter, sweet pickles, and chicken curry.
  • Black Box: The Aeslin Mice serve as these to the Price family. At least one must go with any family member at all times to serve as an indication of what befell them if they do not return home.
  • Blatant Lies: What cryptozoologists tell others when they're uncertain who they're dealing with.
    "You wouldn't have run across a teal and purple flower with large petals, would you?"
    "About yea big? No, such a thing would be unnatural, and there's nothing unnatural in these woods."
  • Blood Magic:
    • Jonathan covers every entryway on the house in lamb's blood to prevent the Easter Bunny gaining entry to the home.
    • The snake cults in books 1 and 5 use Human Sacrifice (and humanoid cryptid sacrifice) to try to summon The Great Serpent.
    • Antimony correctly guesses that the Covenant have a sample of her blood and are able to use it to magically track her. Hiding in the crowds of Lowryland helps for a while, but she's easily tracked to the small town of New Gravesend.
  • Boots of Toughness: The entire Price family wears boots because cryptozoology usually takes them into terrain and territories where tough boots are needed. Played with in the case of Verity, who prefers dancing shoes and doesn't always think to put the boots on before she goes to work and ends up ruining sneakers.
  • Born from a Dead Woman: For most of Imaginary Numbers, Ingrid is heavily pregnant. At the end of the book, her biological daughter Sarah causes her mind to be erased, and she is not seen after that. At the end of the next book, Antimony brings Sarah her new baby brother. It's left ambiguous whether Ingrid was killed by Antimony, already dead, or eaten by a Giant Spider, but she's pretty clearly dead.
  • Boy Meets Ghoul: Gender inverted and played with. Martin Baker is a revenant and Friendly Zombie who's Happily Married to Angela, a psychic wasp who outwardly looks completely human. They got married 9 years after he was revived, and have three Happily Adopted children: one human, one bogeyman, and one the same species as Angela.
  • Brainwashing for the Greater Good: The Johrlac are a species of telepathic sociopaths who act as Backstory Invaders and generally use their powers to get whatever they want from other sapient beings. Angela Baker, one of the only non-evil ones, used her powers to excise the latent Ghost Memory that makes Johrlac go evil from her adopted daughter Sarah.
    • In Midnight Blue-Light Special, Sarah gives the Covenant agents Laser-Guided Amnesia to make them forget Verity existed and think Dominic was dead.
    • In Imaginary Numbers, a group of Johrlac kidnap Sarah and force her to go through an Evolution Power-Up into a "Johrlac Queen", who will use Formulaic Magic to teleport their whole species to a new dimension, destroying Earth (and her mind) in the process. Due to interference from Sarah's friends and family, she ends up wiping the minds of almost every other Johrlac there, turning them into Empty Shells with Horror Hunger.
    • At the climax of the next book, she does the same thing Angela did to her to about a dozen Johrlac children, with their consent. Since the only Johrlac left on Earth after that book are Sarah, Angela, Mark (who didn't have his mind tampered with but somehow turned out okay), and the children, their species may take a turn for the better.
  • Breaking the Cycle of Bad Parenting: Jonathan had Good Parents, but his Overprotective Dad tendencies towards Alice (sometimes bordering on abusive) definitely had a lasting effect on her views of parenting. She didn't abuse her children Kevin and Jane, but left them to be raised by her best friend while she was a Missing Mom traveling through dimensions looking for her husband Thomas. She even says in her narration that she "didn't allow herself to love Jane" (who was born after Thomas was taken) to avoid further heartbreak. Fortunately, Jane and Kevin seem to have completely broken the chain, becoming Good Parents and being present for their children's entire upbringing.
  • Breather Episode:
    • "Married in Green" and to a lesser extent "Sweet Poison Wine" are generally low-stakes stories set between the major events of "Stingers and Strangers" and "The First Fall".
    • "By Any Other Name" and "To Build a Better..." take place between the action-packed trilogy of "What You Pay For", "What You Build", and "The Hand of the Forest", and the Wham Episode of "Halfway Through the Wood".
  • Bridal Carry:
    • No romance involved, just one therianthrope looking out for another.
    • In "Broken Paper Hearts", Jonathan carries Fran's body out of the woods for the last time like this.
    • In "Halfway Through the Wood", Thomas carries an unconscious Alice out of the woods like this.
  • Broken Masquerade:
    • Verity has to fight and kill a giant snake summoned by a co-competitor on "Dance Or Die" who didn't take being eliminated well - on live national television.
    • Elsie's ex Carlotta seemed to think she didn't need to be Secret-Keeper anymore once they broke up. Carlotta broke Elsie's; she told her sister, who told her son, who then told three friends...
  • Bruiser with a Soft Center: "Uncle Al" who owns a pawn shop in Vegas. He's an enormous former wrestler who can give all encompassing hugs from "backbreaking" to "loving". He's a big softy where Verity is concerned, though.
  • Cannot 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.
    • Rose Marshall herself shows up in the short story "The Ghosts of Bourbon Street".
    • Aunt Mary, as mentioned by Verity and Alex, is Mary Dunlavy, as mentioned in Jonathan and Fran's storyline. She also had a small but pivotal role in Rose Marshall's backstory.
    • A routewitch is a major supporting character in Chaos Choreography, and comes with considerable explication of how their powers work.
    • Another routewitch, Rose and Mary all show up in Tricks For Free.
    • Rose's grandniece as well as the Crossroads themselves are the central antagonists of the book That Ain't Witchcraft. The plot of Angel of the Overpass directly deals with the aftermath of that book.
  • Category Traitor:
    • The Covenant considers the Price family traitors to the human race for not wanting to kill all cryptids. Leonard especially brings it up once he discovers Antimony's identity. Also invoked by a poacher in The Measure of a Monster (see Pre-Mortem One-Liner below for the quote).
    • Most "normal" Johrlac, including Sarah's own biological mother, view her and her adoptive mother Angela with a mix of pity and disgust for having human morals and not simply taking whatever they want.
  • The Cavalry:
    • Dominic and Sarah turn up Just in Time to save Verity in Midnight Blue-Light Special.
    • It happens again in Pocket Apocalypse with Alex and Shelby getting rescued.
    • With Verity on the other end of the coin in "Swamp Bromeliad" and Chaos Choreography.
  • Central Theme: The bonds of family, both biological and otherwise, and the importance of respecting and preserving nature rather than acting like humans are the center of the universe.
  • Chameleon Camouflage: The Servitors, as well as several other cryptids.
  • Changeling Tale: Inverted with Johrlac (also known as "cuckoos"), who leave their offspring as Doorstop Babies with human families, and their natural Backstory Invader powers make their Muggle Foster Parents believe that the cuckoo was their own child all along. They have no interest in taking human children, though.
  • Chupacabra: Chupacabra are sapient therianthropes who transform into strange spiky-reptile-wolf creatures. They seem to be drawn to physical hobbies and expressions like dance and Roller Derby, though this may simply be the experience of the younger Price sisters talking.
  • Children Are Innocent: The Prices never kill children of dangerous cryptids, even if they kill the adults, unless the children would die without their parent, in which case it's a Mercy Kill. Johrlac children are completely non-sociopathic until their first instar, and Sarah refuses to wipe their minds, though she does delete the Ghost Memory that would make them Go Mad from the Revelation when it was activated.
  • The Clan: The Price-Healy family can be considered a clan, though there's technically no leader calling the shots.note  Not all the members are named Price; Jane Price married Theodore Harrington, but him and their children are still considered part of the Price family. Her brother Kevin married Evelyn Baker, and her nonhuman adoptive parents and adopted siblings are also considered part of the family, especially Sarah, who grew up with her own children. Verity Price's husband takes her last name when they get married, and her sister Antimony adopts her new friend James into the family after she sees how his father treats him.
  • Clark Kenting: Alex Price does this by working as a mundane herpetologist. Antimony declares the trope by name in Magic for Nothing to describe him doing so.
  • Cliffhanger: Imaginary Numbers ends with Sarah, Artie, Annie, James, and Mark in what seems to be Another Dimension with an Alien Sky, and Sarah's friends and family don't remember who she is. The story picks up immediately in Calculated Risks.
  • Closed Circle:
    • James Smith has a Hereditary Curse that prevents him from leaving the tiny Maine town he was born in. Every time he's tried, he collapses and would die if he didn't get back within the town limits.
    • In the past, Thomas Price, who made a deal with the Crossroads, the same entity responsible for James's curse, was eventually magically confined to his own house, unable to leave it.
  • Code Emergency: The Price family has several different ones depending on the reason.
  • Cold Open: Each of the novels begins with a short adventure (usually A Minor Kidroduction) that has little-to-nothing to do with the rest of the book, but sets the tone for the piece. The exception being Midnight Blue-Light Special, in which the doctor who contracted Verity to take care of the cause of her dead-baby problem reappears at the end to treat Verity's gunshot wound. Discount Armageddon actually has two such chapters, one set in the mid-1990s showing the beginning of Verity's passion for dance and the second, set in mid-2012, being more typical of the series' opening chapters.
  • 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. As a result they're always having to prove over and over again that they mean cryptids no harm.
  • Coming-of-Age Story: Antimony's books are a late-bloomer version, starting when she's about 21 (earlier if you include her short stories) and following her as she goes on her first major solo mission, spends over a year hiding/running from the Covenant, and finds True Companions and her first real love along the way. The Antimony who returns to Oregon before Imaginary Numbers is an unmistakably different person from the one who left it two years earlier in Magic for Nothing.
  • Continuity Drift: A few examples, the exact circumstances of Thomas's disappearance for example. If hell exactly exists and how to go there. Just how diverse the Aeslin religion is. See also Early Installment Weirdness. The Watsonian explanation for the first one is that Verity didn't pay much attention to the Aeslin history, or Alice and/or Mary didn't fully explain the situation to the mice in the first place.
  • Corporate Dragon: The female members of the dragon species—known as dragon princesses—pursue wealth which they trade for gold. This gold is then used for their nests. To do this, they often act as vicious traders and executives who are extremely reluctant to part with any money that they get.
  • Cosmic Retcon: In That Ain't Witchcraft, Antimony's defeat of the Crossroads is explained by the Anima Mundi as this, since she went back in time and killed them before they ever took the Anima Mundi's place. Somehow, this doesn't cause any temporal paradoxes, and everything the Crossroads did (or "didn't do") still happened and everyone remembers it. It can be quite a Mind Screw.
  • Cover-Blowing Superpower:
    • Antimony uses her fire powers to save someone from being burned to death, and thinks nobody noticed her absorbing the heat, but she catches the attention of the Lowryland cabal of magic-users.
    • When Sam and Antimony go on a date at Lowryland, Sam, a therianthrope, shapeshifts into his much stronger and faster monkey-man form to rescue two children from a collapsing ride. Unfortunately, due to the cabal sapping his luck away, he can't turn back into a human and has to find somewhere to hide in a theme park full of thousands of people.
  • Cover Identity Anomaly: In the carnival Annie is truly comfortable and at home among the carnies; so much so in fact that she forgets she's supposed to have only rudimentary knowledge of cryptids as Timpani. She slips and mentions her family in the present tense, and starts letting Antimony's knowledge leak out especially once she's taken a shine to Sam.
  • Crappy Carnival:
    • Subverted. The Carnival Fran came from that Juniper still calls home is actually a fairly nice one most of the time.
    • Subverted again with the Spenser carnival that Timpani/Antimony visits.
  • Creator In-Joke:
    • "You knew the job was dangerous when you took it", a reference to Superchicken from the George of the Jungle cartoon series and pretty much a Catchphrase for the Price family, also appears in Newsflesh.
    • "Hit until the candy comes out" also appears in Velveteen vs..
  • Creepy Twins: The Spenser carnival has a pair running the Haunted House. It's a subversion because they're most likely a bonded couple of Bogeymen rather than actual siblings.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death:
    • After going insane and killing his entire family as a sacrifice to some swamp god that may not even exist, Abraham Parrish disappeared. All that was found of him was his skin all in one piece, as if the swamp god had been wearing it and didn't need it anymore.
    • Enid Healy is attacked by something that liquefies her flesh in hours if not minutes such that when her granddaughter Alice finds her, she's just a skeleton in a pool of sludge. The same grisly fate befalls five other people (two of them children), and Gwendolyn, the one who released the monster in the first place.
    • After finding out that Naga manipulated Alice, lied to her, and made her go through unnecessary Flaying Alive for 50 years, Thomas sets fire to all the oxygen in his cells, burning him from the inside out.
    • Jonathan Healy is literally punched full of holes by an Apraxis wasp nest, which not only kills him extremely painfully but makes his corpse a Time Bomb of developing wasp nymphs.
  • 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 Bogeymen, the Wadjet...
    • A bogeyman girl child of around first grade age appears in Sleepover, all the cuter because she's doing the "wear Mommy's makeup" thing.
  • Dangerous 16th Birthday: Played with. It's actually the eighteenth in the Price family. The family bundles them onto a plane for an unrevealed destination, and has local cryptids separate them from the tourists; they must then find their way home.
  • Day Hurts Dark-Adjusted Eyes:
    • Dominic does not close his eyes fast enough when Verity tells him to.
    • Alex discovers this is also true with moonlight if it's a big, bright, Australian full moon with no other light pollution nearby.
    • The bogeymen are nocturnal as a species and have elaborate tunnel systems to prevent them having to see daylight most of the time.
  • Dating Catwoman: Verity and Dominic; Verity's grandparents Alice and Thomas. Both males end up having a Heel–Face Turn.
  • Dead All Along: In "Bury Me In Satin", the Healys learn that their daughter's babysitter had been killed in a hit-and-run accident... three years ago and that it was her ghost who'd been taking care of their daughter all this time.
  • Dead Man Writing: When she's sure she's going to die facing an Apraxis swarm alone, Alice writes letters to Naga, Mary, Thomas, and even for the Covenant agents who would come if she died to reclaim the Healy house. Fortunately she doesn't need to send them after all.
  • Dead Person Impersonation: In order to both marry him and protect him from the revenge of the Covenant (who currently believe him dead anyway), Verity paid a huge sum of money to her Uncle Al to create Dominic a new identity. Al started with the name of someone recently dead with the same initials and similar ethnic heritage.
  • Deal with the Devil: Played with. As a crossroads ghost, Aunt Mary has rules she can bend, and rules she can't. Asking her questions or for favors will involve The Crossroads, and will require payback or other compensation. Antimony has skirted the edge of these rules enough that Mary warns her the Crossroads know who she is and have taken notice. In Tricks For Free, she finally makes a deal in order to save her life and Sam's. Aunt Mary explains in exquisitely horrifying detail in "The Pilgrimage" why she is perfectly okay with it being her job to talk people out of making these.
  • Death Faked for You:
    • In "All That Glitters", the Healys and Thomas help Betty fake her death so the Covenant won't start hunting down her and her kind for killing and robbing their agents.
    • Thanks to Sarah's Laser-Guided Amnesia of the Covenant agents, Dominic is officially dead as far as the Covenant knows.
  • Death World: Several of the dimensions Alice visits are not nice places to live, to say the least.
    • Helos is home to Lizard Folk who mug (and presumably kill) Dimensional Travelers, and also Giant Crustaceans.
    • Cornale is drying out and becoming more inhospitable as a result of the "bottle world" Lemure next door "infecting" its Background Magic Field. It's unknown if the inhabitants were always cannibalistic, but they seem unlikely to stop anytime soon.
    • Lemure is a dead world, slowly dying after the crossroads are destroyed and no more people with residual magic come through. Thomas tries to mitigate the harsh environment by creating a magical bubble with breathable air and better farming conditions, but it's just delaying the inevitable.
  • Death of a Child: The short story "The First Fall" focuses on the death of the baby son of Frances and Jonathan. He was murdered by a bogeyman under orders from an old enemy of theirs.
  • Depower: Antimony temporarily loses her magic in a deal with the Crossroads to save her and Sam's lives. She gets it back after defeating the Crossroads.
  • Deliberate Injury Gambit: In "What You Build", Alice is infected by Alkabyiftiris slime, but manages to gain enough control of her body to walk to the swamp bromeliad patch and get herself sedated by their sap. She figures this will incapacitate her long enough for someone to come help, and prevent her from spreading the Alkabyiftiris slime or hurting her loved ones.
  • Destroy the Security Camera: It's an actual broadcast television camera, rather than a security camera, but it serves the same purpose. Verity shoots it so the Covenant can't easily get a bead on her current location since she's on their list of traitors and currently in a spot full of the cryptids the Covenant hunts and kills. Trouble is it had been a live feed over the air to North America at least.
  • Dictionary Opening: The novels often start this way. For example, the first book has this before the prologue:
Cryptid, noun:
1. Any creature whose existence has been suggested but not proven scientifically. Term officially coined by cryptozoologist John E. Wall in 1983.
2. That thing that's getting ready to eat your head.
3. See also: "monster."
  • 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, Thomas Price, is missing, making him disappeared dad to her father and aunt.
  • Disposing of a Body: In Half-Off Ragnarok, Alex gets rid of a partially-petrified body by feeding it to Crunchy, an alligator snapping turtle.
  • Dissimile: Discussed by Sarah when she's describing Fantastic Fruits and Vegetables from Another Dimension:
    "You try explaining what a turnip tastes like to someone who's never tasted one. If you can manage anything better than "like a potato, but maybe sort of sweet," you're a culinary genius. Now imagine the person you're talking to has never had a potato either. You have no common points of reference. I could tell I was eating something close to root vegetables, and some kind of herbs, and some kind of fungus, maybe, along with the large chunks of what could almost have been shrimp, and a piece of what was almost but not entirely like bread."
  • Dominant Species Genes:
    • The finfolk are cross-fertile with humans. Children of finfolk mothers will always be finfolk, while children of human mothers may remain human, although they display the dementia in later years that is characteristic of the finfolk growth cycle.
    • Children with an incubus or succubus parent inherit the pheromones and narcotic blood.
    • This seems to apply to fūri as well, though we've only seen one, and he's never known any others.
    • Tanuki are cross-fertile with many other humanoid species, and will always have tanuki children.
  • Doomed Hometown: Played with. Timpani belonged to a family that was a traveling carnival. They were wiped out by Apraxis Wasps and she wants revenge on monsters to prevent any other family from suffering the loss she has. Of course, this is all part of her cover story, though it's believable enough that something like it has to have happened to someone.
  • Doorstop Baby:
    • Little Fran was left outside the flap of the main tent of the circus she grows up to perform with. Calculated Risks reveals this was because she was half-Kairos, and the Johrlac were hunting down her and her parents.
    • All Johrlac, also known as "cuckoos", are left as doorstop babies with human families, and their natural Backstory Invader powers make their Muggle Foster Parents believe that the cuckoo was their own child all along.
  • Dragon Hoard:
    • The dragon princesses (actually female dragons) have a communal pile of gold. Once William wakes up, they melt some of it and shape it into objects like furniture.
    • It's not a dragon, but the Giant Crustacean Alice faces in Spelunking Through Hell guards a hoard of stuff looted from interdimensional travelers. In this case, it seems the monster is just there to guard the stuff for the Helosian bandits who stole it.
  • Dramatic Drop: Fran drops her knives the first time she encounters an Aeslin mouse.
  • The Dreaded Pretend Tea Party: In the short story "Snakes and Ladders", a child is abducted to be sacrificed to what the cult believes is a god. He turns out not to be. The little girl, after being very freaked out, ends up making friends with the would-be god, teaches him a few human customs, and presses him into playing tea party. When her mother finally finds her, she recognizes the would-be god's expression as one her husband often wears when their daughter presses him into playing tea party against his will.
  • Dual Wielding: Fran can do this with guns and knives. 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.
  • Dying Race: The Prices have played a role in trying to save a few near-extinct cryptid races including dragons.
    • The Price family are actively protecting the Aeslin mice. Every now and then there is a schism in the ranks and mice leave the Prices to form their own colony somewhere — they as yet have never heard back from the splinter groups.
      • However there is a hidden colony living in the Covenant, going undetected as such because they don't wear religious raiment. They can be and are mistaken for ordinary mice. Unfortunately, this also means they are treated as such.
    • The tanuki are mentioned as one of the races nearly driven extinct by the Covenant.
    • In Calculated Risks, we learn about the Kairos, who the Johrlac drove all but extinct, since they were naturally immune to Johrlac telepathy.
  • Early Installment Weirdness:
    • Verity takes some actions early in the first book that seem odd given her later characterization, such as unwillingness to kill or relocate even extremely dangerous nonsentient cryptids (such as an ahool, basically a cross between a flying monkey, a bat, and a komodo dragon) when doing so would be beneficial for both the sapient cryptid community and the human community.note 
    • In the first book, Verity's understanding of Jonathan meeting Frances and Thomas's disappearance is...incorrect, to say the least. Possibly due to Seanan not having decided on the exact backstory yet, or due to Verity not paying attention to the mice's family history lessons. According to Verity, Alexander Healy started hunting cuckoo shortly after they moved to America, prompted by the Salem witch trials. He found a hive in Colorado and sent Jonathan to investigate; Jonathan returned with "a fiancee, a police record, and proof cuckoos existed." Jonathan and Fran did find one cuckoo in Colorado, but they had no idea what they'd find there going in, just something bad enough to make Apraxis wasps scared. This also makes it sound like Jonathan met Fran there, though she'd been living with the Healys for 3 years at that point.
    • Antimony mentions tearing up her Social Security card for her Melody West identification in Blocked, but by Tricks For Free, she still happens to have Melody's ID in her go bag. note 
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: All Johrlac look like this, with Occult Blue Eyes.
  • Elopement: On her way home from New York, Verity marries Dominic in Las Vegas to pre-empt any attempts by her parents to make her fiance "disappear".
  • Empty Fridge, Empty Life: Verity's fridge is shared with the Aeslin mice, and the mice's shelves are better stocked.
  • Ending Memorial Service: The final entry in the Jonathan and Frances short stories, "The Star of New Mexico", is about Frances Healy's funeral.
  • Enemy Mine:
    • Verity is freelance, hated by the Covenant. Dominic is Covenant. But they grudgingly decide to work together out of mutually agreeable goals and mutual attraction until they fall in love and Dominic defects.
    • Leo is the next leader of the Covenant, while Antimony fights against everything they stand for, and is on the run from them. They make a temporary truce to defeat the Crossroads.
  • Epigraph: Every chapter and prologue, as well as some of the short stories (not the prequel ones) has an epigraph by one of the family members. The Istas and Ryan shorts, "What Was I Meant to Do?" and "The Holy and Harrowing Pilgrimage of Mindy and Also Mork", cite cultural proverbs for the epigraphs. A list can be found here.
  • Escape Artist: Part of the Healy and Price family training.
  • Eternal Love: A downplayed example: Martin Baker is a Friendly Zombie married to Angela Baker, a Johrlac or "cuckoo", a Human Outside, Alien Inside species who can live in excess of a hundred years. It's unclear exactly how old Angela is, but they've been married since 1961 and more than 50 years later she hardly looks any older.
  • Everyone Can See It: Arthur and Sarah.
Sarah: You know he doesn't like me that way.
Antimony: I know he does. Everyone in the family knows he does. Even Alex knows, and Alex is both a boy and currently in Ohio. Sarah, people who have never met either one of you know he does—they can see it in his forum posts.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog:
    • Averted. Jett the dog does not detect any of the mean werewolves although she is sensibly afraid of werewolves, she detects nothing amiss in any of the infected; one of whom is her master.
    • Played with: the Aeslin mice are capable of smelling a lycanthropy-w infection.
    • The frickens aren't pets, but when they go quiet it means there's something dangerous in the woods. They aren't always accurate though, since the frickens didn't go silent when Fran was killed.
  • Evil Gloating:
    • The cultists, to Verity.
    • One member of the Covenant to Timpani, upon revealing that he knew all along she was a Price, and considered it a feather in his cap to bring her back to the family fold.
    • Inverted at the end of "Balance" (also justified, as the character in question has had his brain rearranged multiple times, not to mention being extremely traumatized). The hunter has Eliza dead to rights, but he takes the time to tell her how he found her, how he's resisting her telepathy, and how he's going to kill her. Eliza isn't able to stop him—cuckoos aren't very good at straight fights—but by the time he's done, every other cuckoo in mental-shouting range knows a) everything he just told her, thus ruining those methods, and b) where he is.
  • Evil Poacher:
  • Experienced Protagonist: The three Price siblings are all introduced in their early twenties (though we get A Minor Kidroduction at the beginning of each book); Verity has several years of experience in the professional dance scene, and Alex already has a graduate degree in herpetology and a steady job. Downplayed with Antimony, who undergoes the most learning and Character Development as she tries to figure out her sorcerer powers. All three of them come from a Badass Family that puts its kids through Training from Hell to make sure they can survive dangerous cryptids, the Covenant, and whatever else the world throws at them. Likewise with the prequel short stories featuring their great-grandfather Jonathan and his parents Alexander and Enid (Jonathan's wife Fran is an outsider to the cryptid world, but already a badass Action Girl). Averted with Alice, whose life is covered from the moment of her birth.
  • Expy Coexistence: Tricks For Free has both Walt Disney World and its expy Lowryland, which are mentioned to be competitors both located in Florida.
  • Extended Disarming: Alice and Thomas's first time is interwoven with an extended disarming as they pull off each other's clothes. Thomas is mildly offended when she implies he only has three ways to kill a man stashed about his person.
  • Eye Color Change: All Johrlac have pure white eyes when actively using their telepathy (Sarah calls it a form of bioluminescence). They can still see fine, though focusing on both another mind and their surroundings at the same time can be difficult. The rest of the time, they have Occult Blue Eyes.
  • The Fair Folk: Many cryptids are mistaken for the faerie. In "Survival Horror", Antimony mentions that the Covenant banished Robin Goodfellow from this plane of reality, implying he was real.
  • Familial Foe:
    • The Crossroads claimed the soul of the Price siblings' grandfather a long time ago, and their grandmother has been on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge ever since. Other family members also get involved sometimes, and the crossroads is happy to try and strike back at them.
      • After destroying the Crossroads in That Ain't Witchcraft, Antimony muses that she may be inadvertently responsible for its fixation on her family, and on sorcerers in particular, due to a Stable Time Loop.
    • In That Ain't Witchraft, James Smith's maternal ancestors have been dying as soon as their child turns 12 for many generations due to the Exact Words of a deal their forebearer made with the crossroads. James is out to destroy the crossroads even before learning this after they abduct or kill his friend when she tries to make a deal to end his Hereditary Curse.
    • A much more petty one: Betty Smith has disliked the Price-Healys ever since she met Jonathan and Frances, despite the family helping her later on, and she tries to sacrifice Verity to the snake cult to wake up the dragon.
  • Fan Convention: "Singing the Comic-Con Blues" features Antimony, Sarah, Artie, and Verity going to Emerald City Comic-Con in Seattle to find a siren who's been causing deaths at other conventions.
  • Fantastic Livestock:
    • The Ohio gorgon community raises Basilisk and Cockatrice as livestock, since they're naturally immune to the creatures' petrification ability.
    • In the other dimension from Calculated Risks, the native sapient species has some sort of giant termites that they tend like cows, and they feed a giant aphid to Greg the Giant Spider.
  • Fantastic Medicinal Bodily Product:
  • Fantastic Racism:
    • The Covenant of St. George classifies all cryptids as monsters to be eliminated. The closest they come to accepting any of them is classifying certain races as not being worth the trouble to hunt down right now.
    • The Thirty Six Society in Australia concerns themselves with conservation of animal-type cryptids, and either ignores or takes advantage of human intelligence cryptids, justifying their actions by saying "they're not people."
    • Humans are okay with dating cryptids as long as they don't know their sweetie isn't strictly human.
      • Carlotta is a human who knows a lot about the cryptid world and is an active security risk. She is the reason Elsie ended up on the wrong end of some teen boys in "Sleepover".
      • Sam has stories of human girls refusing to kiss, let alone get intimate with, him in his nonhuman form because they consider it next best thing to bestiality.
    • Different cryptid species are suspicious of one another. It is an insult to refer to another cryptid by the name of their species rather than their name. At least one bogeyman has done so to Elsie by calling her a Lilu (succubus).
  • Fantasy Americana: The protagonists travel all over the US, dealing with cryptids, ghosts, sorcerers and witches, and an Eldritch Abomination as they go. The first two books are mostly a normal Urban Fantasy set in New York City, but later books go from Ohio to LA to Oregon to Florida to Maine, with some adventures taking place in the Land Down Under or in England. Especially prevalent in the prequels, which are mostly set in Buckley Township, Michigan.
  • Fauns and Satyrs: The Arcadian world of Ithaca is home to these. Two of them, Helen and her wife Phoebe, are friends of Alice (though Phoebe doesn't like her much).
  • Fed to the Beast: In "Sweet Poison Wine", the gangsters trying to muscle in on Arturo Gucciard's bootlegging try to feed him to river hags, and later try to make it look like the hags have killed his men rather than humans. They end up getting their Just Desserts, when Frances, Jonathan, and the gorgons leave them tied to chairs surrounded by raw liver, right next to the waterfront.
  • Feuding Families: The European branch of the Healy family considers the American branch to be traitors and heretics (for leaving the Covenant). The American branch considers the European branch to be genocidal terrorists (for not leaving the Covenant).
  • Festering Fungus:
    • The first chapter of That Ain't Witchcraft features Antimony and Sam taking on a Corn Blight. The spores of this fungus are carnivorous and consume the victims which get close to it. The corn blight then gains half the intelligence of its victim allowing it sentience. It spreads by killing its victims and then converting its victims bodies into extensions of itself to allow it to move. They become fungus-wrapped, corn-swaddled zombie like monsters which have decaying flesh and hunt for more victims. The more victims it consumes, the more intelligent it becomes.
    • The Alice and Thomas shorts feature the Alkabyiftiris slime, a Puppeteer Parasite that takes over the nervous systems of animals and effectively turns them into zombies, similar to the real-life Cordyceps.
  • Fictional Counterpart: "Lowryland" in Tricks For Free is a less popular rival theme park in Florida similar to Disneyland. Employees go back and forth between being hired at both parks.
  • Fiery Cover Up:
    • Played straight: Timpani once revealed as Antimony offers to use her pyrokinesis to burn down the carnival so Grandma Spenser and her people can rebuild on the insurance as a way of making it look to the Covenant like they were purged.
    • Subverted: The Covenant's way:
      • They burned down the Freakshow in New York City (where Verity used to work when it was under another name) because it was cryptid owned and operated.
      • They planned to blow up and burn down the carnival using bombs and accelerants which means insurance would not pay out to any survivors even if it was done in malice by an outside party.
  • Fire/Ice Duo: Antimony is a pyrokinetic. James is a cryokinetic. They join forces to destroy the Crossroads, and afterwards she adopts him into the Price family.
  • Five-Token Band: Since few members of any given cryptid species show up, nearly every group or team is a mix of different species (though they may look like the same race).
    • In the first couple books, Verity's circle of allies includes Dominic (human, Italian), Ryan (tanuki, Japanese-passing), Istas (waheela, Inuit-passing), and Sarah (Johrlac, white-passing). The dragon princesses (mostly white-passing) and Sunil and Rochak (madhura, Indian-passing) are more tangential allies.
    • Verity's friends from the reality show Dance or Die include Pax (ukupani, Pacific islander-passing, and bisexual/pansexual), Malena (chupacabra, Hispanic), and Lyra (black).
    • Antimony's group of True Companions includes herself (white), Fern (sylph, white-passing), Cylia (jink, white-passing), Sam (furi, half-white, half-Asian), and James (white, gaynote ).
  • Flaying Alive:
    • It's implied this is what happened to Abraham Parrish after he went insane and murdered his family for a swamp god that may not even exist. All that was found of him was his skin.
    • In Spelunking Through Hell, this is how Alice stays looking like she's in her 20s when she's in her 80s chronologically. She has to be awake for the whole process, and then her skin is regrown. She doesn't do it for vanity reasons, but to heal her body and make a new blank canvas for Power Tattoos.
  • Flipping the Bird:
    • Verity's first story takes place in New York. There's a strip bar. It's gonna happen.
    • Antimony flips off the captain of her roller derby team in "Magic for Nothing", but playfully.
  • Fluffy the Terrible: Greg the Giant Spider. Sarah named him, reasoning that humans find it harder to justify harming an animal once it has a name.
  • 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.
  • Foregone Conclusion: We know from the novels that Alice and Thomas end up together, but it's still fun to see how they got there.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Fran's death in "Broken Paper Hearts" was heavily foreshadowed.
    • In "The Lay of the Land", Mary jokes that Thomas is "doomed" and should "just accept [his] fate now". Becomes a "Funny Aneurysm" Moment when we find out that Mary brokered the deal between Thomas and the Crossroads.
    • Timpani reflects on the danger of a Mara in a carnival. A Mara with whom she is acquainted as Annie Thompson aka Final Girl shows up when Timpani and Sam go to the roller derby for a date.
    • In "Balance", Eliza the Johrlac reflects that she wouldn't want to be chosen to be a queen. She doesn't go into the details, but it's clear that it's less a position of authority and more being used as an extremely powerful tool by your hive. Sarah later finds out the dangers of becoming a queen personally, although with the help of her family she escapes and turns the tables.
    • There's several moments in Spelunking Through Hell where Alice notes that she recognizes the style of building that the Autarch's compound is. Astute readers will realize before she does that it's the same as lamia architecture, foreshadowing that they were originally from that world.
  • Formulaic Magic: All Johrlac have an unusual affinity for math, and Imaginary Numbers, the first book with one as the main POV character, reveals that a sufficiently powerful Johrlac can use their mathematical skill combined with their Psychic Powers to rewrite reality and tear a hole between dimensions, which would destroy Earth (and fry their own mind) in the process.
  • For the Evulz: Within the first couple pages of "Balance", Eliza kills two people and permanently warps another's mind for sheer amusement. And that's a pretty basic day for her.
  • Frog Men: Swamp hags are humanoid frogs with Non-Mammal Mammaries (both males and females), and are intelligent enough to work together to hunt humans.
  • Full-Boar Action: Dire boars, which can get as large as a bear and form highly dangerous and destructive sounders.note 
  • Full-Frontal Assault: In Midnight Blue-Light Special, when the Covenant captures Verity, they strip her naked to make sure she doesn't have any hidden weapons. She escapes and has to fight them unclothed.
  • Full-Name Ultimatum:
    • Emery Spenser refers to her grandson by his full name when she is angry: Samuel Coleridge Taylor. We discover this in the Aeslin novella.
    • Annie calls Artie by his full name (Arthur James Harrington-Price) when he's about to hurt Sarah.
  • Generational Saga: The series spans at least four generations of the Price-Healy family (though only three have had their stories told so far, and only the youngest generation are viewpoint characters in the novels).
  • 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. Antimony knows to Never Split the Party, but recognizes that sometimes it's unavoidable.
  • 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).
    • She also can cook them into food. She baked shortbread with lemon runes to assist with digestion in "The Lay of the Land".
    • In Sleepover the unnamed boys who kidnap Elsie think that a meticulously crafted Seal of Solomon means she must obey them, but Elsie soon disabuses them of their mistaken notion.
  • Giant Crustacean: Alice fights an elephant-sized crawdad in another dimension, that's guarding a Dragon Hoard.
  • Giant Spider: One of the many types of Big Creepy-Crawlies that inhabit the dimension Calculated Risks takes place in. Sarah telepathically tames one as a steed and names it Greg.
  • Gibberish of Love: In "The Lay of the Land", Alice suddenly becomes unable to speak in complete sentences (and then starts rambling) when she sees Thomas when he's not coming off a day-long bus ride. She's not thinking of him romantically yet, though.
  • Glad-to-Be-Alive Sex: In "The Pilgrimage" Mindy and Mork take a moment to cement their bond after a life threatening experience.
  • Glowing Eyes: Johrlac eyes turn white when they actively use their telepathy.
  • Godzilla Threshold:
    • The only time anyone is ever happy about a cuckoo showing up is when there are Apraxis wasps in the area. The Apraxis are intelligent, telepathic, parasitic wasps, incredibly deadly and nigh-impossible to get rid of, and the only thing they're scared of is cuckoos.
    • The cuckoos themselves are so dangerous that Alexander Healy broke radio silence to warn his enemies the Covenant that they existed.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Naga is perfectly friendly to Alice and Fran, but makes no pretensions of mercy towards the snake cult that summoned him.
    Fran: So you’re trying to tell me you’re harmless?
    Naga: No. I fully intend to track down and constrict the bipeds that summoned me until they tell me how to get home. But I’m no one’s ‘snake god.’
  • Good Old Fisticuffs: Antimony is perfectly okay with throwing punches when the situation calls for it, particularly when her mission requires her to go unarmed.
  • Good People Have Good Sex: Verity and Dominic's sex life is athletic and enthusiastic.
  • Gorgeous Gorgon: At least three different varieties of Gorgons show up in this series. Female gorgons tend to be gorgeous despite the snake hair with one even acting as a stripper in the first novel.
  • Grandparent Favoritism: Alice has a better relationship with her grandchildren than her children, probably because she left them to be raised by her friends at a carnival while she went dimension-hopping to search for her missing husband.
  • The Great Serpent: Several dimensions are mentioned as being home to various giant serpents or snake-shaped beings, many of which are the basis for snake cults. The one in Discount Armageddon is based around a dragon, but the one in Chaos Choreography actually manages to summon a giant interdimensional snake...on live TV.
  • Green Aesop: The reason the Healys broke with the covenant was because they realized that indiscriminate monster hunting was hurting the ecosystem. For example, unicorns might be bad-tempered creatures that spear a handful of humans every year, but they also purify the local water tables. Eliminating France's unicorn population caused a massive cholera epidemic that resulted in more loss of human life than a century of unicorn attacks would cause.
  • Guilt by Association: The Covenant does not differentiate targeting cryptids from humans who cohabitate with cryptids, or simply allow them to exist without being bothered. To them, any human who suffers a cryptid to live is corrupted and must also die.
  • Hair-Contrast Duo: Verity and Antimony Price are blonde and brunette, respectively. Verity is older and more feminine (though she has a huge tomboy streak as well, and actually has shorter hair than Annie), but also rather irresponsible. Antimony is younger, more of a Tomboy with a Girly Streak, and doesn't get along with her sister.
  • Half-Breed Discrimination: Lloyd is a second-generation hybrid gorgon, who does not live with the other gorgons, instead passing for human. His mother Hannah is also a hybrid, being half-greater gorgon and half Pliny's gorgon, but is more accepted by her people and is in fact the leader of the gorgon community, since it was her parents who founded it in the first place.
  • Half-Human Hybrid:
    • Elsie and Artie are the children of Jane Price, a human, and Ted Harrington, an incubus.
    • Sam's mother was human and his father was a fūri. He's usually just considered a fūri, since he has all their abilities and physiology, and he's the only one we've seen so far. If he and Antimony have any kids, they'll be this trope too.
    • Frances was this, though she never knew it. Her mother was human and her father was a Kairos.
  • Halloween Episode: inasmuch as literature has them: "Snakes and Ladders" tells the story of Alice Healy's first Halloween.
  • Hard Head: Sam, who's a fūri (a simian cryptid similar in appearance to Sun Wukong), can survive a shot to the head in his fūri form.
  • Healing Factor: Lilu heal extremely fast — Ted can pop a broken bone back in place and be perfectly fine an hour later. His Half-Human Hybrid kids Elsie and Artie aren't quite as lucky, though they still heal faster than humans.
    Artie: It probably says something weird about my family that "I bet my mother shot my father in the leg," was a comforting thought.note 
  • Heal It with Blood: Johrlac have clear blood that acts as a natural antibiotic for other species, including humans.
  • Heinz Hybrid: The Price-Healy family is mostly human, though great-grandma (to the main characters) Frances Brown wasn't fully human, since she passed down some genetic immunity to cuckoos' telepathy. Her granddaughter Jane married an incubus, Ted, and had two children who are half-incubus and half-succubus respectively. Sam is a fūri, though his mother was human, and if he and Antimony have children they'd be a quarter fūri and 1/16 whatever Frances was.
  • 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".
  • Heroic Sacrifice: In And Sweep Up the Wood, some of the Aeslin mice sacrifice themselves to distract the Apraxis wasps so Alice can kill them.
  • Hero on Hiatus:
    • In Midnight Blue-Light Special, Verity is captured by the Covenant, and the POV switches to Sarah as she and Dominic try to rescue her.
    • In Imaginary Numbers, Sarah herself is kidnapped, and several chapters are from Artie's POV as he, Annie, Sam, and Mark try to find her and bring her home.
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: The reason that human-passing cryptids have infiltrated human society.
    Alex (narrating): A lot of homeowner's associations have cryptids on their boards helping to set standardized rules that will make individual homes more difficult to target from a distance. 'The monsters live in the beige house' isn't a very helpful description when half the houses in the neighborhood are beige.
  • Hidden Weapons: A staple of the wardrobe of any cryptozoologist. As a rule, they tend not to undress in front of their muggle lovers to avoid questions as to why they have so many guns, knives, coshes and brass knuckles hidden in their clothing.
  • Hide Your Otherness: Many of the more humanoid cryptids live in or interact with human society by hiding their more unusual features.
    • Therianthrope species like fūri, tanuki, and chupacabras can simply transform into a human form.
    • Gorgons, particularly female ones, wear wigs (often with a Beehive Hairdo to give the snakes more room) and special glasses to counteract their petrifying gaze.
    • Young sirens look just like humans, though often with fantastic hair colors, and sometimes unnatural skin colors (for humans). In their twenties, they start developing scales, and by 40 they've turned into a classic mermaid.
    • Sasquatch can shave their body hair and pass for very tall humans.
    • Dragon princesses (actually female dragons), sylphs, jinks, and several other species look identical to humans on the outside.
  • Hive Queen: Zig-Zagged. Sarah is a Johrlac, a telepathic species (supposedly descended from extradimensional wasps) of which most other members are sociopaths who don't care about any lifeforms other than themselves (including other Johrlac). In Imaginary Numbers, a hive (in this case a temporary gathering) of Johrlac kidnap her and force her to undergo an Evolution Power-Up to turn her into a Johrlac Queen, which summons hundreds more as they attempt to turn her into an Apocalypse Maiden. When her friends arrive to try and stop her from destroying the world, they realize that the Johrlac were originally a Hive Mind species, and tell Sarah to mentally connect to their minds and the hundreds of Johrlac surrounding them to spread out the cosmic equation across many minds and prevent it from frying her mind. After the equation is "killed", she finds she has psychic powers far beyond any other Johrlac, but ironically can't control (or even detect) the surviving Johrlac, whose minds were wiped of anything other than Horror Hunger when she shoved the equation into them.
  • Honorary Aunt: More like "Honorary Uncles, Aunts, and Cousins".
    • 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 Dunlavy, although ghosts, are both considered "aunts" to the family.
    • Al, owner of a pawn shop in Vegas, is another honorary uncle.
    • Annie decides their odd neighbor James is coming home as an honorary sibling.
    • After spending 7 years Trapped in Another World together, Thomas seems to see Sally as a surrogate daughter.
  • Horror Hunger: After Sarah shoves the cosmic equation into their minds, the cuckoos' minds are blanked and only their body's drive to feed and survive is left.
  • Horse of a Different Color: The humanoids of the "giant bug dimension" ride giant millipedes and Slaying Mantises, and Sarah tames and rides a Giant Spider.
  • Hot Skitty-on-Wailord Action: Male dragons can grow to the size of a bus, while female dragons are outwardly identical to humans. One wonders how they reproduce.
  • How Do I Shot Web?:
    • Ghostly Mary Dunlavy 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!
    • Sorcerers like Antimony and James often have to figure out their powers by trial and error, since sorcerers are few and far between, largely due to persecution by the Covenant.
    • After Sarah becomes a Johrlac Queen, she takes a while to figure out her vastly expanded new powers, partially because she doesn't want to accidentally hurt anyone with them.
  • Human Alien Discovery: Neither of these examples are aliens, but they are Ultraterrestrials (and Johrlac are originally from Another Dimension).
    • Johrlac, also known as "cuckoos", are left as Doorstop Babies with human families, and their natural Backstory Invader powers make their Muggle Foster Parents believe that the cuckoo was their own child all along. When they enter their first instar at puberty, their latent Ghost Memory "hatches", imbuing them with the Johrlac species' cultural memory, and the knowledge of what they are. This usually makes them (from the human point of view) temporarily Go Mad from the Revelation and murder their human family. When they resurface, they're fully aware of their own telepathic abilities, and their status as an ambush predator.
    • Umeko discovered she was a jorōgumo when she transformed at puberty without anyone to explain what she was going through, and eventually started killing and eating people.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters:
    • In general, human villains in the series tend to be far more despicable than the Cryptids themselves. Human villains will often take advantage off or harm cryptids who are often just going about their way.
    • The Covenant apparently did start out with a noble mission to protect mankind from things that would prey on them — but then they learned to enjoy killing.
    • Referenced by Antimony:
    The human race has been one long quest to find new, novel things and then kill, eat or enslave them. There's a reason the aliens haven't made an appearance yet, is what I'm saying.
  • Hunter of Monsters: The Covenant is a pseudo-religious monster-hunting organization the Prices have been working against for generations. The Pricesnote  and Healys were originally Covenant families, but left due to ideological disagreements. (The Price family will still kill cryptids when they become a danger to other sentient beings, but only then.) We encounter multiple characters from the Covenant, including Dominic De Luca.
  • I Can't Believe A Girl Like You Would Notice Me:
    • Alex's opinion of Shelby having decided she loves him and isn't planning to let go of him anytime soon.
    • Sam when Antimony shows she's attracted to him as a person, not just his human form. She's his first romantic partner who likes him in his fūri form.
  • If You Ever Do Anything To Hurt Him: Grandma Spenser to Timpani when it becomes obvious that Timpani and Sam have decided to start dating.
  • I Have You Now, My Pretty: Lloyd kidnaps Shelby and tries to force her to be his mate. Despite them being completely biologically incompatible species. Even his mother Hannah agrees he's gone too far, and reluctantly allows Alex to kill him.
  • The Immune:
    • All non-mammalian cryptids are immune to lycanthropy-w. This makes the Wadjet, who are snakes who can pass for human, really helpful as doctors for the infected.
    • Frances Healy is largely immune to cuckoo mind control for reasons unexplored. Her descendants acquire an immunity through family exposure to cuckoo telepathy via Grandma Angela and Cousin Sarah. In Calculated Risks, we find out this is because she was half Kairos.
    • Johrlac, being closer to insects than mammals, are immune to Lilu pheromones.
    • On a more fantastic, less disease-related note, gorgons are naturally immune to the petrification abilities of basilisks and cockatrices, so they can keep them as livestock.
  • Improbable Antidote: There is a highly reclusive cryptid snake, the wagyl, whose bite can literally cure anything.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: Istas uses one as a covert message in "Red as Snow":
    Istas: Ryan? Are you ready to rock? (Ryan is a Tanuki, who can turn himself to stone)
  • Inexplicable Language Fluency: Of the Genetic Memory version. When Candice the Dragon Princess comes up against the Lizard Folk wandering about the New York sewers, she's able to make them halt using a guttural language. She reveals to Verity that it's a inborn language all Princesses know and something the "Servitors" are meant to respond to. She's also never used it before as Servitors can only be created from a living male dragon.
  • Inexplicably Identical Individuals: All Johrlacs look remarkably similar when they're not using their psychic powers to make people think that they recognize them. This is explained as a byproduct of their being psychic - since they don't recognize prey or each other by visual cues, they never saw a reason to develop visual cues to distinguish themselves from each other. A simple haircut and any Johrlac can stand in for another of the appropriate sex.
  • Infernal Retaliation: In Calculated Risks, Sarah and Antimony are facing a horde of zombified Johrlac. Once she runs out of bullets, Antimony sets several of them on fire with her magic, causing Sarah to lampshade this trope as they flee.
  • Inner Monologue: Thus far the majority of the InCryptid books and short stories are told this way by the main character.
  • Insult of Endearment: Dominic to Verity most often, usually calling her some variation on "infuriating".
  • Interdimensional Travel Device:
    • Alice mainly uses Power Tattoos to travel between dimensions, but Naga also gives her some beads that do the same thing without some of the unpleasant side-effects.
    • Johrlac Hive Minds use cosmic equations to open holes in reality, though this usually destroys the world they're leaving.
  • Interspecies Adoption: Verity's human mother was raised by the world's first nonsociopathic cuckoo, who also raised a bogeyman and the second non-sociopath 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. Elsie dates human girls.
      • If Artie ever can bring himself to admit his feelings for Sarah, they will be an incubus/johrlac couple.
    • There's an entire New England town of oceangoing cryptids; some of them have human partners.
    • Sam Taylor is the result of a human/cryptid romance.
    • Ryan the tanuki and Istas the waheela.
  • I Shall Taunt You: A common practice of the Price family. It will make an enemy angry enough to possibly make a mistake, it can be used to keep them talking and providing useful information while they monologue, and it's a good way to distract a bad guy and kill time until help arrives.
    • Sam Taylor and Timpani Brown also use this method of fighting.
  • Is This Thing Still On?: In Chaos Choreography, during the battle with the giant snake demon, nobody remembers to turn off the live TV cameras until it's over. Verity reasons that it's inevitable that the Covenant will find out, and gives a message to them through the camera:
    Verity: My name is Verity Price. Stay out of my continent.
  • It's Not You, It's My Enemies: Invoked and lampshaded by Enid when she asks Fran if Jonathan told her about the Covenant, who are monitoring them and could consider her a collaborator if she stays with them. Defied by Fran when she points out that she can take care of herself and she came to Michigan with Jonathan because she wanted to.
  • Jack-of-All-Trades: Cryptozoologists as a rule tend to have skills in a variety of fields — they not only have to be zoologists, they're also Fantastic Anthropologists for sapient cryptidsnote , and almost all of them are skilled in armed and unarmed combat and field medicine (at least the ones that survive). And they all have to be able to spin a convincing lie to Muggles if needed.
  • 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.
    • Sam Taylor cultivates this façade as a form of self-defense.
  • Journey to the Center of the Mind: In Imaginary Numbers, Sarah goes inside Artie's mind to find out why he's not waking up after a car crash caused by another cuckoo. It turns out the other cuckoo left a mental trap in his mind. Later on Artie returns the favor when he enters Sarah's mind to convince her not to go along with the hive's plot.
    • The other cuckoos show Sarah complicated information, like the cuckoo history and life cycle, by letting her into their minds for Pensieve Flashbacks.
  • Just Desserts: The villains of "Sweet Poison Wine" end up getting eaten by the river hags they tried to feed their enemies to, when Frances, Jonathan, and the gorgons leave them tied to chairs surrounded by raw liver, right next to the waterfront.
  • Karmic Death: In "Halfway Through the Wood", after Gwendolyn Brandt releases a bidi-taraubo-haza into the woods around Buckley, it horrifically kills six people, including two children and Enid Healy, and one of those children was used as bait for Enid. In the end, Alexander and Jonathan kill the bidi-taurabo-haza, meaning Gwendolyn can't return it to the Crossroads, and Mary unleashes the snake's ghost on her. Given how unrepentant she was, it's hard to feel this was anything but justified.
  • Kill It with Fire: An effective way of dealing with Apraxis wasps (bullets and knives work too, but they run out).
  • Kissing Cousins: Sarah and Artie like each other but Cannot Spit It Out. They're only cousins by marriage, plus she's adopted, plus they're different species (she's not even a mammal), so the main obstacle to them getting together is each one thinking the other doesn't like them that way.note 
  • Kiss-Kiss-Slap: In "Stingers and Strangers", Jonathan gives Frances a "Shut Up" Kiss, which she returns after a second of surprise. Then she pulls away and slaps him, possibly for interrupting her, possibly for taking three years to get around to it.
  • Knife-Throwing Act:
    • The Fabulous Fran, before meeting Jonathan Healy. She was a circus star who did trick knife throwing... on horseback.
    • Studying with The Incredible Christopher is how Verity and Antimony got so good at throwing knives.
    • Timpani joins the carnival as a combination Trapeze act and knife throwing act. Notably, her knives are one of the few things she takes with her when she goes on the run after Magic For Nothing.
  • Knight Templar: The Covenant of Saint George are fanatically devoted to the wiping out of cryptids as they view them as "unnatural".
  • Knowledge Broker: Several:
    • Dave the Bogeyman for "dirt on the street" type stuff. This is apparently a specialty of the bogeyman community, as Jonathan mentions in "Stingers and Strangers".
    • 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.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia:
    • In Midnight Blue-Light Special, Sarah modifies the memories of the Covenant operatives to forget Verity existed and think Dominic is dead.
    • In Calculated Risks, Sarah realizes she deleted Annie, Artie, James, and Mark's memories of her when they helped her spread out the equation by using their brains as data banks. She didn't expect to survive, and thought it would be less painful if they didn't remember her. It becomes a problem when all 5 of them survive, and are trapped in another dimension.
    • Later in Calculated Risks, Sarah offers to delete the memories of the past two days in Another Dimension from the minds of the ordinary humans who were accidentally sent there with them, but only if they want her to.
    • In Spelunking Through Hell, Alice discovers that Naga had his Johrlac employee modify her memories to steer her away from the "bottle world" where Thomas was, which she would have been unable to escape from. He also had her mind altered to prevent her from harming him, just in case she found out.
  • Last of His Kind:
    • William is in the first novel, the last male Dragon. This doesn't last for very long though as reuniting him with the female dragons leads to the birth of new male dragons.
    • Sarah and her mother are the first, last, and possibly only of their kind, ever, at least in this dimension - non-sociopathic Johrlacs. Since they can only successfully interbreed with their own race and there aren't any non-evil male Johrlacs, it's doubtful that cuckoos with a sense of psychic etiquette will survive to another generation.note note 
    • Osana is the only known Laidly Worm still alive.
  • Let's Dance: When Verity says this, she means it more literally than usual.
  • Letterbox Arson: In Half-Off Ragnarok, Shelby's apartment is a victim of this. Alex wakes up in the middle of it and has to get them out by jumping down to the ground.
  • Literal Genie: Discussed and invoked by Annie as she explains why dealing with the crossroads is a bad idea, and why you always get a ghost trying desperately to talk you out of making such a deal. Also overlaps with Jerkass Genie.
  • Lizard Folk: The reptilian Servitors the cultists create by exposing humans to dragon blood, all the other ones are much more human passing.
  • Loads and Loads of Races: It's mentioned at one point that there are over 900 known cryptid species, over 80 of which are humanoid (not counting non-humanoid sapients like Aeslin mice). Even limiting it to sapient species who actually appear in the series, there are lilu, johrlac, bogeymen, three species of gorgons, lamia, chupacabra, ukupani, huldra, tanuki, waheela, fūri, jorōgumo, wadjet, dragon princesses, finfolk, sirens, sasquatch, ghouls, jinks, cornwives, caladrius, sylphs, mara, plus many unnamed species... And that's not counting the dozens of different types of ghosts (though those mostly appear in the Ghost Roads series in the same universe).
  • Logical Weakness: The Johrlac are believed to be physiologically related to insects, though they appear human. In Imaginary Numbers, Artie threatens one they've captured with a can of Raid.note  Theobromine (a compound found in chocolate) is also toxic to them).
  • Long-Lost Relative: While in England, Antimony encounters an Aeslin Mouse who stayed behind with the Covenant branch of the family and rescues him. He becomes the mate to the mouse who accompanied Antimony on her mission.
  • Loophole Abuse: In "Chaos Choreography," the four top-scoring contestants from each of the last five years of a dancing show are invited back. Alpha Bitch Jessica is included because she didn't compete in the top four (and everyone likes the girl who did compete better than her), but she did score in the top four before being sidelined by an injury.
  • 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.
  • Love Confession:
    • Fran confesses her love to Jonathan after he's just shot her under the influence of a cuckoo.
    • Alice tells Thomas she loves him as she's dying from a venomous snake attack.
  • Lovecraft Country:
    • Gentling, Maine is a small town where up to a third of the population is finfolk, who start their lives human-looking, but gradually transform into merpeople, then eventually gigantic predatory fish. As their metamorphosis progresses, they lose their memories of life on land.
    • Downplayed with New Gravesend, Maine. The Crossroads and its ghosts are there, but they can be anywhere, they just pushed Annie and her friends there so she'd encounter James. Aside from the curse keeping James from leaving, it's a relatively normal small New England town.
  • Magic or Psychic?: Many different types of mages exist, including sorcerers, routewitches, and ambulomancers. None of them have been shown to have Psychic Powers, though several species, like the Johrlac (which both Mark and Sarah are) have innate telepathic powers.
    Mark: We're not magic. Magic doesn't exist.
    Sarah: Says the man keeping company with two literal sorcerers.
    Mark: Sorcery is just physics gone feral. We're psionic. It's not the same thing.
  • Magitek: Technology made just for cryptids, such as darks - the literal opposite of electric lights - for cryptids that don't deal well with light.
  • 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.
    • Shelby also uses the male gaze to her advantage when traveling, or to make a point.
    • Timpani's trapeze costume is designed intentionally to draw the male gaze.
  • 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.
    • Charlotte Tanner, Shelby's mother, makes at least three.
    • A grand mama bear exists in "Magic For Nothing". Sam's grandmother. She never acts on it, but the implication is that she knows how to disappear a body.
    • Between Evelyn and Kevin Price, Evelyn is the one Verity most worried about when bringing Dominic home to meet them.
  • Man-Eating Plant: Swamp bromeliads are giant flowers that can eat mammals as large as a deer, and sometimes prey on humans. Verity and Dominic rescue a boy who's trapped in one when they stop in Buckley. Their pollen also has a narcotic effect, which Dominic finds out to his chagrin.
  • Man of the City: Gone Horribly Right in That Ain't Witchcraft. James's distant ancestor was a sorcerer who made a deal At the Crossroads so that his bloodline would remain magical and there would always be a member of his family to protect the town from supernatural threats. The Exact Words of this deal have resulted in each new member of the family being killed soon after the birth of their child, and said child being magically prevented from leaving town no matter how badly they want to.
  • 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.
  • Mass Teleportation: At the end of Imaginary Numbers Sarah teleports herself, Annie, Artie, James, and Mark, plus hundreds if not thousands of "zombified" Johrlac to Another Dimension. Also transported is the entire campus of the University of Iowa (fortunately, not many people were there at the time).
  • Meet the In-Laws:
    • "No Place Like Home": Jonathan brings Frances home with him to Buckley to meet his parents and the rest of the Aeslin colony. However, they weren't together yet (though Everyone Can See It). Notably, Jonathan's mother Enid tells Fran that she worries her son isn't good enough for her, rather than the other way around.
    • "My Last Name": Verity brings Dominic to meet her parents and convince them not to kill him.
    • Pocket Apocalypse: Alex travels to Australia to help with a werewolf problem, and meets Shelby's family.
    • "Black as Blood": Istas and Ryan fly across the country to meet Ryan's family.
  • Memory Gambit: In Calculated Risks, Sarah can't afford to delete any of her memories, since she's the only one capable of getting them back to their own dimension. However, some of her memories get wiped away in the process anyway, and Mark willingly makes a Heroic Sacrifice of his own memories (it remains to be seen whether any of his personality survived). Artie also loses his entire psyche, but it's ambiguous if he knew what he was doing when he touched Sarah.
  • Mental Fusion: The process of solving the dimension-hopping equation normally burns through the mind of the Johrlac doing it. To avoid this happening to Sarah, Artie tells her to use his mind, Antimony's, James's, and Mark's, plus all the cuckoos surrounding them, as "data banks" to offload some of the equation. This results in all the cuckoos except Sarah, Mark, and the children being reduced to Empty Shells, but in the process she accidentally deleted her friends' and family's memories of her to make room for the equation. Later, when performing the equation to return home to Earth, Sarah uses as many "husked" cuckoos as they can round up, plus a little of everyone's mind, to avoid melting her mind again. Mark and Artie give up their minds so she has more space and processing power, but she's able to recreate Artie's memories from everyone else's memories of him (and the mice's Perfect Memory), and Mark appears to be undergoing the same metamorphosis that Sarah did after book 2.
  • Mental World: Sarah goes into this a few times in Imaginary Numbers; see Journey to the Center of the Mind above. During her metamorphosis, she also retreats into a void in which she can create anything or anyone she can remember, but knows they're not real. Ingrid is the only outside mind she can communicate with, and she tells Sarah that the only way to escape the mindscape is to complete the cosmic equations that will tear a hole in reality.
  • Mermaid Problem: Lampshaded by Fran in We Both Go Down Together:
    Fran: How’n the hell do you fuck a mermaid? Fish ain’t got vaginas, last time I checked.
  • Metamorphosis: Finfolk look just like humans (and can interbreed with them) until sometime in their 20s, when they start turning into merpeople. Exposure to the sea can speed up this change. This also slowly erases their memory of their life on land, and by old age they're little more than non-sapient gigantic fish, which won't hesitate to eat their own children or grandchildren (who may eat them right back).
  • Mexican Standoff:
    • Fran and Jonathan in 1928, in The Flower of Arizona. Jonathan pulls a gun on Fran, who throws a knife into the wall behind him faster than he can see.
    • Their great-granddaughter Verity and Dominic in 2012, in Discount Armageddon. Verity gets caught in a trap Dominic set for cryptids, and he arrives while she's freeing herself. They immediately pull guns on each other. The two of them end up married too.
  • Mind Control: All cuckoos are capable of it at a nearly unconscious level. Even cuckoos who are trying to be nice will still end up doing it if they're not careful.
  • The Mind Is a Plaything of the Body:
    • Invoked: While discussing lycanthropy-w.
    • Inverted: A lot of lycanthropes turn at the sight of the moon despite it not being necessary once they have been infected.
  • Mind over Manners: Sarah and her mother developed their telepath ethics from watching Babylon 5.
  • A Minor Kidroduction: Each book starts with a flashback prologue to the viewpoint character's childhood, the only part of the book written in third person.
  • Minorly Mentioned Myths and Monsters: The series features several lesser-known cryptids/mythical creatures, such as Fūri, Waheela, Laidly Worms, Ahool, and Caladrius, alongside ones the author appears to have invented herself, such as the Johrlacnote , Madhura, and the Fricken.
  • 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.
    • As of "Broken Paper Hearts" Alice Healy loses her mother to an as-yet-undetermined cryptid attack on Valentine's eve.
    • Alice herself slightly subverted this with her own kids, as they knew (or suspected) she was still alive, but she left them with the carnival while she went searching for Thomas.
    • Refreshingly averted in the present generation, as both Evelyn Price and Jane Harrington are perfectly well and living somewhere just beyond the outskirts of Portland, Oregon.
    • Sam Taylor's mother came home upon finding out she was pregnant with a half-cryptid child, stayed long enough to birth him, and then took off to go back to the human life she'd already run away to before getting pregnant.
    • James Smith from New Gravesend lost his beloved mother to an unnamed sickness when he was small.It was actually a Hereditary Curse.
  • Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: Played with. Adrienne, an old cryptid roller derby acquaintance outs Timpani to Sam as Antimony Price because she feels that she was "just trying to eat" and unfairly exposed and kicked out. The truth is that said cryptid was not so innocent in her feeding and was hurting people doing so. She was kicked out because her method of feeding could have drawn unwanted attention and endangered the other cryptids who really were being circumspect and careful in their behavior. She pretty much took the shot at "warning" Sam for spite because she had to find another feeding ground with people who wouldn't recognize her for what she was and lacked the know-how to do anything about it if they did find out.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters
    • Questing Beast (Rattlesnake/Cougar)
    • Fricken (Frog/Bird).
    • Church Gryphon (Raven/Maine Coon cat)
    • Garinna (Galah/Thylacine)
  • Monster Mash:
    • The Baker family is a homage to The Munsters, with a Frankenstein Monster/Revenant Zombie as the dad, a Johrlac as the mom, and their three adopted children: a human, a bogeyman, and another Johrlac.
    • Dave's Fish and Strips, the bogeyman-run strip club Verity works at in the first book (later renamed The Freakshow) is staffed almost entirely by cryptids. Species working there include gorgons, tanuki, and waheela.
  • Monster Roommate: The entire extended Price-Healy family lives with a colony of Aeslin mice, which worship them as gods and act as a living history of the family with their Photographic Memory. When one of the family members moves to another house, part of the colony goes with them. People who go on long-term missions, like Alice and Antimony, carry only one or two with them.
    • Antimony has a few when she works in Lowryland: her old roller derby friend Fern, a sylph, and Megan, a gorgon medical student.
  • Monster Town:
    • A community of gorgons have a small trailer park near Columbus, Ohio, though some in the "fringe" have built permanent houses and farms, signaling their resistance to being forced to flee.
    • Gentling, Maine is a town founded by finfolk, and even after humans moved in, a full third of the population has finfolk blood.
    • Bogeymen apparently used to have cities, but they were destroyed by humans. Nowadays they have Underground Cities beneath human ones.
  • Monstrous Cannibalism:
    • Finfolk are Metamorphosis Monsters that slowly transform from a humanoid body to a mermaid one, while also losing their memories of life on land and higher brain functions. Eventually, truly old finfolk become gigantic fish with no intelligence to speak of, and show no hesitation in eating their own children and grandchildren. This goes the other way as well, since according to second-stage finfolk the third-stage finfolk are delicious.
    • Waheela are known to eat their own cubs if hungry enough. Istas was born into a litter of five. By the end of winter, there were only three left. She still feels bad about that.
  • Mood Whiplash: Twice in Chaos Choreography. Used along with Switching P.O.V. in Midnight Blue-Light Special to create uncertainty as to whether Verity had survived being hit in the head by her third cousin, Margaret Healy.
  • The Most Dangerous Video Game: The game Annie and Artie play in Survival Horror tries to kill them.
  • Mouse World:
    • Dollhouses and birdhouses make lovely mouse residences.
    • The attic of the Healy house.
    • Likewise the attic of the Price home in Portland.
    • Verity has a Barbie Dream House full of mice that travels with her.
    • Alex has at least a few Aeslin mice with him but has not gone into detail to describe their living arrangements.
    • Antimony's mouse just hung out in her backpack until finding a mate. They built a home on the road of cardboard and popsicle sticks and other doodads brought from the craft store as a sort of wedding gift.
  • Mr. Alt Disney: Michael Lowry, the founder of the Disneyland coexisting expy Lowryland, though he's long dead by the time the series takes place, and most of the focus is on the theme park.
  • The Multiverse: Although characters had previously visited or mentioned one dimension at a time, Alice travels through many different worlds on her search for Thomas.
  • Muggle Foster Parents: Johrlac, also known as "cuckoos", leave their babies with unassuming human families, where the infant's subconscious telepathy convinces them that it's their own child. Once their powers fully manifest at puberty their Genetic Memory/Ghost Memory "hatches", imbuing them with the Johrlac species' cultural memory, and the knowledge of what they are. This usually makes them (from the human point of view) temporarily Go Mad from the Revelation and murder their human family. When they resurface, they're fully aware of their own telepathic abilities, and their status as an ambush predator.
  • Mum Looks Like a Sister: Alice Healy spends most of her time in alternate dimensions where time flows differently than on Earth. As a result, she looks young enough that she can successfully pass as the sister of her grandchildren.
  • Mundane Solution: In "Survival Horror", Antimony and Artie escape The Most Dangerous Video Game by pressing the escape key.
  • Must Not Die a Virgin: When Alice thinks she's going to die facing a swarm of Apraxis wasps alone, she goes to see Thomas one last time, and they finally kiss and have Their First Time.
  • My Biological Clock Is Ticking: In the prequels, Gwendolyn Brandt desperately wants to have a child with her betrothed Thomas Price (who wants nothing to do with her), though it seems to be less for the sake of love or having a child than for 1) Giving birth to a new member of the Covenant and 2) Gaining control of the Price family bank accounts for the Covenant.
  • My Greatest Failure: Alex considers failing to save one of his mice this, but there's more to the story: Charlotte Tanner blocked his view of the Aeslin mice so he couldn't see when a member of the Thirty Six society crushed one of them to death in his hand. It was explained as the Fantastic Racism of the Aussie cryptid conservationists combined with a misunderstanding of how seriously the mice take their religion. The truth is that the one who did it would've done it anyway because he was infected, didn't want the mouse to sniff him out, and was under orders to do "whatever it takes" to remain unrevealed.
  • My Skull Runneth Over: In Imaginary Numbers, Sarah suffers this when she undergoes a mental metamorphosis and starts doing cosmic equations to rip a hole in reality. At the climax, she mitigates the overload and avoids melting her own brain by mentally linking to her friends and family, and then all the other Johrlac, to offload some of the equation into their minds. Most of the Johrlac don't have enough room for the information and it destroys their sense of self to make room for itself.
    • In Calculated Risks, this happens to Mark and Artie when Sarah is spreading the equation to get back to Earth through everyone's minds. Mark knows what will happen, and lets her, but Artie gets blanked by accident, when he touches Sarah. He gets better.
  • 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.
    • In the same vein, pretty much any name associated with the Covenant, if you're a Price, a cryptid, or (in the case of the Harringtons) both.
  • Nature vs. Nurture: A major theme in the books focusing on Sarah and her species. For most of her life, Sarah thought that she and her mother were the only non-sociopathic cuckoos. Then she met Mark, who despite still having the Ghost Memory that "normal" cuckoos get at their first instar, managed to turn out pretty okay. They argue about the merits of leaving the Johrlac children with their latent Ghost Memory, or removing it like what Angela did with Sarah. It ends up being a moot point when Sarah deletes all their cultural memory packets to free up space for the Hive Mind to use for the Formulaic Magic.
  • "Near and Dear" Baby Naming:
    • Verity's father wanted to name her Alice after his mother, but his wife balked since Alice is weird (even by their standards). They compromised by making Alice her middle name.
    • Alice herself is named as a feminine form of "Alex", since her parents thought she was going to be a boy and planned to name her after her grandfather. Her middle name is Enid, after her grandmother.
  • Never Split the Party: Lampshaded as undesirable but impractical when there's a lot of ground to cover, even as they do it.
    Aeslin mouse: And then it was said and Stated, as it always shall be, Never Split the Party!
  • Nice to the Waiter: Sarah doesn't worry about paying for her coffee, but she does make sure to tip the waitress...usually.
  • The Nicknamer: the Aeslin mice refer to the members of the Price-Healy family as gods and priestesses, and each member has a special title. Verity is the Arboreal Priestess, Antimony is the Precise Priestess, Fran is the Violent Priestess, Alex is the God of Scales and Silence, etc. These can gain retroactive tearjerker status when a posthumous divinity is applied (The God of Early Arrivals and Earlier Departures, The Violent Priestess, Who Never Learned to be Careful).
  • No-Gear Level: In Midnight Blue-Light Special, Verity is captured by the Covenant and stripped of her clothing and weapons. She wakes up tied to a chair with nothing but a thin bathrobe on, and once she gets out of her restraints, has to escape completely naked (since she ditches the robe for more mobility) and unarmed. Good thing she's from a Badass Family and went through Training from Hell to prepare for situations just like this (and that Dominic and Sarah show up to rescue her).
  • No Man Wants an Amazon: Appropriate for the social mores of the time frame, but also used by Jonathan to try to convince Alice to stay out of the family business. He told her in so many words if she beat boys at arm wrestling she would never find a boyfriend. (She found a husband and had 2 kids and kept beating boys at arm-wrestling, by the way.) Averted with the modern generation.
  • Non-Human Humanoid Hybrid:
    • Hannah is half greater gorgon and half Pliny's gorgon, and looks pretty humanoid except for the snake hair, until she turns into a Snake Person Medusa. Her son Lloyd is an unknown combination of species, and has stunted snakes, allowing him to pass for human if he wears a hat.
    • Lilu (succubi and incubi) can reproduce with almost any humanoid species, including ghouls, bogeymen, and at least one species of Rubber-Forehead Aliens from Another Dimension.
  • Non-Malicious Monster:
    • Frequently seen with creatures like the cockatrice. They're no more malicious than any other animal, just more dangerous.
    • Played with in Magic for Nothing. One of the fire dancers believed herself human until her cryptid form manifested in her teen years. With none of her own kind around to teach her alternatives or discretion, and human food not sufficiently nourishing her, she turned in desperation to an alternate food source webbing up people until they liquefy and sucking up the resulting gunk. By the time Timpani meets her, she's no longer entirely without malice.
  • Non-Mammal Mammaries: A lot of the female cryptids have such anatomical anomalies.
    • Lesser Gorgons are considered "mammal-like reptiles" who lay eggs but also nurse their young, so they have an excuse.
    • Johrlac are stated to be descended from some kind of wasp, but not only do the females have breasts, they can lactate.note 
    • Both male and female swamp hags have fat deposits resembling breasts, despite being Frog Men.
  • No Pregger Sex: Averted with Mindy and Mork.
  • No Sympathy for Grudgeholders:
    • Subverted: Adrienne the Mara holds a grudge against Antimony Price because of the latter forcing her to leave Portland. Antimony never asked forgiveness because she was acting in the protection of humans and other cryptids.
    • Subverted in a different way: Sam and Timpani. Timpani learned why Sam had good reasons to lie, and after he thought about it Sam realized Timpani had good reasons to lie as well. They suggested that their mutual grudges about being lied to cancelled each other out, and got on with the make-up sex.
  • 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.
  • Not So Extinct: Everyone assumes dragons died out three hundred years ago but it turns out one is hibernating under New York and female dragons have been in plain sight the entire time due to long lifespans and human appearances. Shelby also mentions believing that Aeslin mice were extinct before she met Alex's.
  • Not the Intended Use: Alice's Power Tattoos include contraception spells, but she has no intentions of having sex with anyone except Thomas, once she finds him (and is well-armed enough to make anyone who wants to try to force her think twice). Fortunately, they're also effective against parasites like Apraxis wasp larvae.
  • Not Using the "Z" Word:
    • In Calculated Risks, Antimony objects to calling the mindwiped cuckoos "zombies", partially because it's culturally appropriativenote , and partially because they don't turn their victims (of course, not all fictional zombies do either).
    • Martin Baker is a revenant. He's fully sapient and can't turn anyone by biting them, not that he would.
  • Now or Never Kiss: In "Stingers and Strangers", Jonathan and Frances are trapped in a house by Apraxis wasps, about to burn it down, when Jonathan gives Fran a "Shut Up" Kiss and asks her to marry him.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: If Verity sounds like she's just lost fifty IQ points and starts batting her eyes at you, run.
  • Offscreen Teleportation: Bogeymen can do this through shadows 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.
    • Verity and Alice both suffer this when Verity inadvertently refers to one of Alice's habits as a 'holy calling' within the hearing of the Aeslin mice.
  • One-Person Birthday Party: Not even his own sister came to Artie's twelfth birthday party. Fortunately, his best friend and cousin Sarah did, and they had fun until he said he liked her.note 
  • Once Done, Never Forgotten: A number of cryptid races, and some non-Covenant cryptozoologists, still consider the Price family to be Covenant despite having broken from that organization a century before.
  • "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).
  • The Order: The Covenant of St. George is an ancient organization (their name indicates they were probably once associated with the church) dedicated to hunting down and exterminating "monsters", many of which are sapient beings guilty of nothing more than not being born human. The Price-Healy family that the main characters belong to is descended from former Covenant members who had a Heel Realization and cut ties with the organization, which branded them traitors and sent agents to eliminate them (ironically, several agents they sent (Thomas and Dominic) ended up marrying into the family).
  • The Other Rainforest: The Price family compound is outside of Portland, Oregon, though the books take place all over America (and in some cases in other countries).
  • Outside-Genre Foe: The series is mostly Urban Fantasy, with the foes ranging from dangerous cryptids to human mages and monster hunters to even an Eldritch Abomination in one book. In the short story "Survival Horror", Antimony and Artie are trapped in a magic video game that tries to kill them. Despite the game relying on Runic Magic, it leans much more towards science fiction than the rest of the series. A non-enemy character, Annie's grandfather Martin Baker, is a Revenant Zombie presumably created with Mad Science, which is never mentioned elsewhere.
  • Outliving One's Offspring: Jonathan and Fran's son Daniel is murdered at age three in the short story The First Fall. Fran makes Jonathan promise she won't have to bury any more of their children.
  • 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. They're actually female dragons.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: Depending on the type of ghost. Rose Marshall is a road ghost, while Mary Dunlavy is a crossroads ghost. They can both become human-solid for a little while if a live person loans them clothing to wear. Crossroads ghosts are held in thrall to the Crossroads, and act as a negotiator between the Crossroads and the person making a deal.
  • Our Ghouls Are Creepier: Ghouls (Herophilus sapiens) are obligate carnivores. They're primarily scavengers, but increased cremation rates and improved security of corpses has led many to become predatory. They're also known to eat their own young in lean times. Visually, they look like humans with Scary Teeth similar to a shark's.
  • Our Gryphons Are Different: There are many species of Lesser Griffins, which have the front half and wings of some sort of bird, the hindquarters of some kind of feline, and feline ears on their bird head. Alex Price has a pet church griffin (crow and large cat) named Crow. Australia has the convergently evolved Garrinna, which has the front half of a galah and the back half of a thylacine. Shelby has one as a pet.
  • Our Imps Are Different: In "One Hell of a Ride", the train Jonathan and Frances are riding gets temporarily sent to a hellish dimension, where squat, six-limbed humanoids called border imps start killing and eating the passengers. They can only be killed by a Silver Bullet or blade, which both happen to carry.
  • Our Orcs Are Different: They're not called orcs, but the inhabitants of Helos (it's unknown if "Haspers" is a name for their species as a whole or just the ones in Lemure) are pretty close, being a violent race of Lizard Folk who kill and rob passing Dimensional Travelers.
  • Our Sirens Are Different: In Singing the Comic-Con Blues, Antimony, Artie, Sarah, and Verity track down a siren who's been using her compulsive voice to make convention patrons drown themselves.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: Lycanthropy is not a species of cryptid. It is a cryptid mutation of rabies that can affect any mammal (Though mammals weighing less than 90 pounds or so invariably die from it before they can infect anything else). It has nothing to do with the full moon, and does not work like in the movies. It is a deadly disease and treated as deadly serious even when it is discovered that those infected, after the first couple changes, return to human intelligence. Humans thus afflicted do not become "evil" as such, but do develop short tempers and more aggressive traits as a result of their DNA and body being rewritten to wolf. Even if the humans afflicted can make provisions not to infect anyone else in their uncontrollable phase, the disease is still always fatal: mammal bodies were simply not made to be shapeshifted repeatedly, and the resultant strain on the heart and nervous system will eventually result in the victim's death.
  • Over-the-Shoulder Carry:
    • Midnight Blue-Light Special: 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.
    • Pocket Apocalypse: Alex carries the much larger and complete dead weight Cooper over his shoulder after they're attacked by infected lycanthropes.
    • Waking Up in Vegas: A slightly less drunk Dominic carries a very drunk Verity back to their hotel room.
    • '"Waking Up in Vegas": Verity and Dominic get drunk at their co-bachelor(ette) party. When Very is too drunk to walk, Dominic carries her back to the hotel room.
  • Papa Wolf: Riley Tanner, Shelby's father, is both overprotective and inclined to hit things that upset him. He has a really hard time dealing with Alex, despite Alex's attempts to avoid antagonizing him.
  • Le Parkour: More described as free running by Verity, distinct from Parkour.
  • The Password Is Always "Swordfish": The family has code phrases for when they meet up in case of enemy traps, shapeshifting, or magic. Averted in that the passwords tend to involve complex sign-countersign pairs and avoid terms of obvious meaning to the family member involved.
    • Antimony used a comic book based one: "Professor Xavier is a jerk" for her Aeslin mice to advise them it is safe to come out and allow themselves to be seen.
  • Parasitic Horror:
    • Apraxis wasps sting prey (often humans) and lay their eggs in it, with the nymphs incubating in living or dead bodies, and absorbing the victim's mind into the wasp Hive Mind in the process. And even burning the body doesn't destroy the microscopic eggs, just puts them into the soil.
    • Alkabyiftiris slime is a Festering Fungus that acts as a Puppeteer Parasite to its hosts, with them still semi-conscious as it slowly takes over their body. After about an hour, the slime causes permanent brain damage.
  • 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 accouterments 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/Eidetic Memory: The Aeslin Mice have this as a species trait. It is also enforced and reinforced since they worship the Price family as religious figures, and have litanies, celebrations, songs, feasts, festivals, proverbs, and holy writ based on the family's milestones and exploits. They also, when traveling with the family, serve as living black boxes to let the family know how any family member died should they fail to return.
  • Pimped-Out Dress: Verity has several, due to having ballroom danced semi-professionally for some years. She uses one as her wedding gown in "Waking Up in Vegas".
  • Plant People:
    • Cornwives (the term applies to males and females) are either plants that evolved to be humanoid, or primates that evolved some plant attributes.
    • Huldra look humanoid except for their hollow backs, which act like a giant pitcher plant to ingest blood. When they get old, they transform into a patch of trees. Cynthia's mom is an aspen grove behind the bar she owns.
  • Playful Hacker: Inverted:
    • Artie Harrington is an extremely solemn and serious hacker. He has to be. He is the one who does all the fake identification documentation from birth certificates to driver's licenses to passports for many members of the family up until Magic for Nothing, which results in Antimony having to sort out her own because she can't lead anything back to the family.
    • Uncle Al is an Honorary Uncle who does full identity workups.
  • Playing Doctor: When Antimony and Sarah were kids, they "played cryptozoologist" so Annie could learn about cuckoo biology. Angela and Evelyn were pissed when they found their daughters naked in the barn.
  • Playing with Fire: Antimony started developing signs of uncontrolled pyrokinesis some weeks or months before the events of Magic for Nothing. Once she gets her mission from the family, it also becomes a Cover-Blowing Superpower. Thomas was the same, waking up to burned sheets around puberty.
  • Portal Crossroad World: Helos is enough of a Death World that Alice wouldn't go there if it didn't link to six other dimensions.
  • Power Nullifier: The family has several rooms warded against telepathy for when Sarah comes to visit, and both they and the Covenant make and use anti-telepathy charms.
  • The Power of Family: Family is a very important theme which runs throughout the novels. The Price-Healy family have always celebrated and are fiercely loyal to each other with even their non-blood related relatives considered to be a part of the family. Antimony Price even invokes her female ancestors and the bond they share in order to destroy the crossroads parasite and stop its evil influence.
  • Practically Different Generations: Angela and Martin Baker adopted three children: Evelyn (born and adopted 1965), Drew (born 1981, adopted 1983), and Sarah (born 1990, adopted 1999). By the time Sarah was adopted, Evelyn already had three children of her own (born 1987, 1990, and 1993)note , so Sarah calls them her cousins even though she's technically their aunt.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: Alex to an Evil Poacher (who has kidnapped several gorgon children) in the novella The Measure of a Monster:
    Poacher: Wait, Alex? Alex Price. What the fuck man? I thought your people were on humanity's side.
    Alex: We're conservationists. The human race is currently of least concern. Now give me the keys, before I make you extinct.
  • Prophet Eyes: A Johrlac species trait. Sarah and her mother both get them when employing their telepathy. Sarah calls it a form of bioluminescence. They can still see fine, though focusing on both another mind and their surroundings at the same time can be difficult. The rest of the time, they have Occult Blue Eyes.
  • Psychic Link: Sarah has one with certain members of the family, Verity in particular.
    • All humans who spend enough time around cuckoos, particularly in childhood, become attuned to that particular cuckoo's "hum". It's how Cici knew another male cuckoo wasn't Mark, even though all cuckoos of the same sex look virtually identical.
  • Psychic Nosebleed: When Sarah uses her telepathy too strongly, she gets a nosebleed. However, Johrlac blood is clear, so it just looks like she has a runny nose.
  • Psychic Teleportation: In Imaginary Numbers, after her Evolution Power-Up, Sarah can teleport herself and three other people from Oregon to Iowa, and a week into the future.
  • Punny Name: Dave's Fish and Strips, a gentleman's club staffed almost exclusively by cryptids. Later gets renamed to the Freakshow.
  • Quirky Household: The Price family is a Badass Family of cryptozoologists who include a roofhopping ballroom dancer, a Badass Bookworm herpetologist, a roller derby-playing Sorcerer, a Dimensional Traveler Badass Grandma who looks younger than her own grandkids, and a Human Outside, Alien Inside telepath who loves math. Oh, and they also live with hundreds of mice that worship them as gods.
  • Racial Face Blindness: If their telepathy is inhibited by a Power Nullifier, cuckoos can't tell humans apart, since our faces all look the same to them (they can tell apart people by skin color, hair color, and gender, but that's only useful if everyone in a group looks different). They also all look the same to each other, since they use telepathy to communicate among themselves.
  • 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.
  • Recessive Super Genes: Sorcerers rarely have sorcerer children — the last one in the Price family before Antimony was her grandfather Thomas, and neither of her siblings have any magic powers. Averted with James's family, since his ancestor made a deal with the Crossroads that his line's magic would always breed true.
  • Religion of Evil: Snake cults, which always seem to be based around Human Sacrifice.
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: Multiple examples.
    • Played straight: The Servitors and the Lindworm in Verity's time period, the Lizard Folk of Helos in Spelunking Through Hell.
    • Subverted: William the Dragon and the Wadjet in Verity's time period, and Professor Naga in Fran & Jonathan's. Also most of the gorgons (depending on your definition of "reptile").
    • Double Subverted with Naga in Spelunking Through Hell, who is revealed to be a Manipulative Bastard rather than an ally to Alice Price-Healy.
    • Justified: For the Aeslin mice. Reptiles tend to prey on 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.
  • Road Trip Plot: The Verity and Dominic shorts follow them as they drive across the country from New York to Portland, following a zigzagging route to throw any possible Covenant agents off their tail. On the way they stop in Las Vegas and are married by a chupacabra Elvis Impersonator.
  • Roller Derby: The sport of choice of Antimony Price, as seen in her first three short stories.
  • Rubber-Forehead Aliens: Discussed by Sarah, who calls them "Star Trek aliens". The inhabitants of the dimension in Calculated Risks look humanoid except for Pointy Ears, rosette Facial Markings, and slightly-larger eyes in yellow and green.
  • Sarcastic Confession: See Masquerade above.
  • Scary Stinging Swarm: Apraxis wasps — Wicked Wasps each the size of a shoe — attack in swarms, sometimes tearing through their victims like a spray of bullets (like they did to Jonathan Healy), at the same time implanting their larvae in the living or dead bodies of the victims. On the plus side, their gigantic size means that a gun is actually effective against them, if you can aim and fire fast enough.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Plenty of Verity's coworkers skip town in the first book after hearing a Covenant agent is in Manhattan. Most make excuses about family emergencies, while one is upfront about her reasons.
  • 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.
    • Antimony has four and a half:
      • Antimony is her real name, but it's a secret outside the family.
      • Antimony goes by "Annie Thompson" locally in Oregon. She also has the Stage Name Final Girl to go with her roller derby.
      • Timpani Brown, sole survivor of the massacre of the Brown Carnival is her cover story for infiltrating the Covenant on behalf of her family, and then for infiltrating the Spenser Carnival on behalf of the Covenant.
      • She goes by Melody West in high school, and revisits it as an alias when she's working at Lowryland.
      • All of her non-stage identities (except Melody West) have a name that can be shortened to "Annie".
  • Self-Made Orphan: Every cuckoo (save Sarah and Angela) is this; they practice their hunting pattern on their unlucky adoptive parents first. We later meet a third cuckoo who didn't kill their human parents, Mark.
  • Sexy Packaging:The cover of Discount Armageddon shows Verity in a Fanservicey pose, a short skirt, and baring her midriff. However, it's completely supported by canon — she works as a cocktail waitress and often doesn't have time to go home and change before patrolling for monsters. Seanan McGuire has gone on record saying she actually chose the cover artist Aly Fell for having "the right sort of irreverent cheesecake aesthetic".
    Seanan: For all the people that go "oh my god, it's cheesecake": it's well-drawn cheesecake, her waist is thick enough that you can tell she has internal organs, she is wearing remarkably sensible shoes, given that they are high heels — they are also dance heels, they're chunky, they're made to be moved in — and she's got muscle tone.
  • Shapeshifting Lover: Several Interspecies Romances are between couples where one or both can shapeshift:
    • Ryan the tanuki and Istas the Waheela can both shapeshift between human and animalistic forms (Ryan can also appear as a normal raccoon dog).
    • The human Antimony's boyfriend is Sam the fūri, who can shapeshift between a human form and a simian form with a Prehensile Tail and Handy Feet. He loves her because she's the first girl to love him in his natural form.
  • Shark Man: The Ukupani are aquatic therianthropes whose males can turn into a fully human or a half-human/half-shark form. The females can't transform, and appear as gigantic sharks.
  • Shooting Lessons From Your Parents: This has been the case for several generations of the Price-Healy family since they left the Covenant. There are several references to going to the range for training and maintaining skills, even not being allowed to go there as punishment. Of the current generation; Alex is the deadliest shot, Verity is the best shot, and Annie best with throwing knives over pistols and long guns the former two use.
  • "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.
    • Jonathan to Frances in "Stingers and Strangers" when they think they might be about to die. Doubles as Kiss-Kiss-Slap, Now or Never Kiss, and Big Damn Kiss.
    • Frances to Jonathan in "Loch and Key", when he can no longer resist correcting her that plesiosaurs aren't dinosaurs.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang:
    • Elsie and Artie are a succubus and an incubus, respectively, and as different as night and day. Elsie, who has some control over her pheromones, is an outgoing, colorful lesbian, while her brother, who has Power Incontinence over his Living Aphrodisiac abilities, is a Hikikomori whose only real friends are his sister and cousins.
    • Verity and Antimony are a Tomboy and Girly Girl pair in some ways, though it can be difficult to tell whether Verity is a Girly Girl with a Tomboy Streak or a Tomboy with a Girly Streak. Antimony is much less friendly with strangers than her sister, though once she becomes friends with someone they're her True Companions. She also complains that Verity doesn't think through the consequences of her actions, like when she revealed the Prices' continued existence on live TV.
    • A twist with Antimony and James, who didn't grow up with her but who she adopted as a brother when they were both adults (after seeing his bad family situation). Antimony is Hot-Blooded, appropriate for someone whose specialty is Playing with Fire, while James is An Ice Person in both power and personality.
  • Sirens Are Mermaids: Though not the only kind of merfolk. There are also the finfolk, who are not sirens. Full-grown sirens visiting beaches wear a Seashell Bra, to discredit any reports of "mermaid sightings".
  • Silver Bullet: The only thing that can kill a border imp is a silver blade or bullet. Good thing both Jonathan and Frances carry those.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: When Alice finally finds Thomas, he thinks she's an assassin at first, and they get into a physical fight before he realizes it's her from her Fighting Fingerprint, and then kisses her.
  • Snake People:
    • Greater gorgons can transform from a two-legged humanoid form to one with the bottom body of a huge snake.
    • Wadjet are also technically snake people, though the females look fully human and the males look just like normal snakes.
    • Naga's species, lamia, are from Another Dimension and have a scaly humanoid upper body on a giant serpentine lower body.
  • Snark Knight: Pretty much the default mode of a Healy or Price starting a fight is hurling disorienting insults at their opponent. Verity invokes Spider-Man as the patron saint of her style of combat.
  • The Sociopath: the Johrlac, also known as "cuckoos" are an entire species of sociopaths, described as such in-universe. It may be due to their Blue-and-Orange Morality, but it's implied that even by the standards of their homeworld they're horrible, and the reason their ancestors were exiled from that dimension is that they were criminals. There are a grand total of two adult non-sociopathic Johrlac on Earth,note  one of which was raised by the other. In Imaginary Numbers we meet one who has a sister he cares about and makes a Heel–Face Turn to protect her, but the jury's still out on whether he's sociopathic or not.
  • Someone Has to Do It: This is enforced by James Smith's Hereditary Curse: His ancestor made a deal with The Crossroads that his magic power would always breed true (instead of skipping a generation or two), that there may always be a sorcerer to protect New Gravesend. The Crossroads being a Jerkass Genie, it interpreted this clause to mean that James can't leave the town limits, or he'll start to die. And since the deal only mentioned one sorcerer, the parent dies soon after their child is born.
  • Species of Hats: Several of the humanoid cryptid species have a hat that is often the only thing separating them from humans:
  • 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.note 
  • Stock American Phrases:
    • In Magic for Nothing, Sam uses "Hey, rube!" ironically. Its normal usage among carnie folk is as a rallying cry or call for help. But at the time he was using it, he was actually referring to Timpani as a rube — someone who is "not one of us" and equivalent to a townie, and intended at least a little derogatorily.
    • Timpani gives a quick glossary of carnie speak when she arrives at the Spenser carnival.
  • Stock Ness Monster: InCryptid, utterly unsurprisingly, has a number of these. The first that the reader sees is the Michigan Lake Monster, which features prominently in the short story "Loch and Key." A second plesiosaur appears in the Cold Open of Chaos Choreography, the pet of a trio of archaeology students from a Portland-area community college, whom Verity and her husband Dominic move from a city reservoir to a much more secluded lake high in the mountains. Specifically noted as not being sea monsters, as these are freshwater beasts and will quickly die if introduced to the ocean.
  • Strong Family Resemblance:
    • Most of the women in the family take after Enid Healy, with a look known as belonging to her Carew ancestors: curvaceous and blonde, and on the short side. The men in the family have a track record of finding wives with the same look as well - Frances Healy and Evelyn Price also share the look despite no blood relation.
    • Antimony takes after the Price side of the family: tall and brunette with sharp cheekbones. The family thinks this will be enough to protect her when she goes undercover with the Covenant ... but it's not. They keep portraits of all the previous illustrious members and Antimony looks just like an ancestor.
  • Summon Bigger Fish: In Calculated Risks, Sarah telepathically convinces a train-sized flying millipede to come down to the ground and eat a bunch of zombified cuckoos that are chasing her and Annie.
  • Superhuman Trafficking:
    • The novella The Measure of a Monster focuses on Alex, Shelby, and Sarah saving some gorgon children from Evil Poacher kidnappers.
    • The short story "We Both Go Down Together" has Jonathan and Frances try to figure out who's been taking baby finfolk (who look just like human babies) from the shore. It turns out to be one of the finfolk themselves, who did it for what he thought were noble reasons.
  • Supernaturally Validated Trans Person: the series has yet to introduce any canon trans characters, but in Calculated Risks, Sarah remembers when she and Elsie were kids, Elsie hypothetically asked the Aeslin mice what they would do if she told them there'd been an error and she was actually a boy. They immediately began planning a ritual to modify her catechisms from those of a Priestess to those of a God,note  and only stopped after she explained she was only wondering and really was a girl.
  • Supernatural Repellent: Lilu and mara are vulnerable to aconite.
  • Survivor Guilt: Raina suffers this over something she really couldn't have foreseen or controlled. the Johrlac invasion that ended up killing her older brother Jack. It gets worse when Gabby takes off, upset after developments in the case.
  • Swamp Monster:
  • 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. Later on in Imaginary Numbers, Artie does the same for Sarah after she's kidnapped by the cuckoo hive.
  • Taken for Granite: Basilisks, cockatrices and gorgons can cause this, while tanuki can temporarily do it to themselves.
  • Take That!: In Imaginary Numbers, Sarah complains about sexist comic book fans, which Seanan McGuire has likely had experience with, as a writer for Spider-Gwen.
    Sarah: If I want to subject myself to toxic people, I'll just read the comments on literally any article about female-led comic book properties.
  • Tall, Dark, and Snarky:
    • Dominic isn't exactly tall - he is compared to Verity but Verity barely tops five feet barefoot - but he's described as dark-complexioned and her sarcasm quickly rubs off on him (he is himself inclined to dry, sarcastic humor as his primary mode).
    • Sam is actually tall, but also tends to have brown hair and a snarky disposition.
  • Tanuki: Ryan, the bouncer at Dave's, is one. The Covenant is mentioned as having made the tanuki population critically endangered.
  • Tarot Troubles: Both times Fran's friend Juniper reads the cards for her, using nonstandard cards that she invented.
    • Played with in "Married in Green": Juniper reads several cards for Fran to predict her possible future if she marries Jonathan, but leaves the last one on the deck when Fran decides she's marrying him no matter what the future holds. One assumes that the last card would have predicted bad things for the couple.
    • Inverted in "The First Fall". Fran asks Juniper to read her fortunes and to tell her that her dead child's soul is resting easy.
  • Tastes Like Purple: Artie (who can read emotions) describes Sarah's love for him as tasting like "maple syrup and pizza sauce". He says crushes taste more like gingerbread.
  • Technically Living Zombie: In Imaginary Numbers, Sarah overwrites the minds of hundreds of Johrlac, leaving nothing but Horror Hunger. They don't even have survival instincts anymore, and their only reaction to being eaten by the Big Creepy-Crawlies that start hunting them is to try and eat them back (since they have humanoid mouths, this isn't very effective).
  • Telepathy: Natural talent for the cuckoos. Lilu also have limited telepathy.
  • Temporal Paradox: After the end of That Ain't Witchcraft, when Antimony goes back in time and destroys the Crossroads before it ever came to Earth, everyone still remembers it existing, and all its effects on the world (like Thomas being gone) still remain. It causes a bit of a headache for anyone, reader or character, who tries to wrap their mind around it.
  • Terminology Title: Imaginary Numbers and Calculated Risks are math terms, appropriate for the Good with Numbers narrator Sarah's Day in the Limelight books.
  • Their First Time:
    • Verity and Dominic in Discount Armageddon.
    • Antimony and Sam in Magic for Nothing, and then again in Tricks for Free.note 
    • Alice and Thomas in And Sweep Up the Wood.
  • They Fight Crime!: She's a ballroom dancer slash strip club waitress! He's a church-trained uptight monster hunter 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.
    • Also the unspoken but commonly acknowledged reason cryptids pass for human when possible and hide when they cannot pass. Human curiosity doesn't always have ethics or a conscience. Humans are good at rationalizing who is and isn't "a person".
    • Sam Taylor doesn't say the trope name verbatim but is describing it as a fear and a reason he doesn't drop his human facade except in the private areas of the Carnival.
  • Thicker Than Water: Some cryptids don't care; the rest really care. The various Healys think this way for their immediate relatives, but not for their distant cousins in the Covenant - they might share blood if you look back four generations, but they are not family.
  • This Is My Story: Sarah spends most of the first chapter of Calculated Risks recapping the series up to there, especially the events of Imaginary Numbers.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: The family in general tries to not even kill cryptids unless they have no other alternative. Antimony, however, really hates the idea of killing humans, so much so that she won't even kill Covenant when it's in her best interest to do so.
  • Time Skip:
    • Fran and Jon's timeline to Verity's. This gap might close eventually though, as the 'past' stories have moved onto the next generation, Alice Healy and Thomas Price. There's also a nine-year gap between the end of the Jonathan and Frances stories and the beginning of the Alice and Thomas ones.
    • Many books have a flashback prologue to the characters' childhood.
    • Sometimes epilogues have a time skip as well.
  • Title In: Each chapter begins with a location and status check for the narrator.
    • Fran's stories each begin with a date and location check.
  • Token Heroic Orc: Angela, Sarah, and Mark are the only non-evil cuckoos. In Sarah's case, she's sort of an Orc Raised by Elves, except one of those "elves" was actually another Token Heroic Orc (Angela).
    • At the end of Calculated Risks, it seems that the Johrlac children they rescued are on their way to becoming like Sarah, Angela, and Mark.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Verity and Antimony both have aspects of each. Verity is a professional dancer and likes other traditionally feminine things like dresses, but she's also a short-haired Action Girl who loves climbing trees and buildings so much that her title is "The Arboreal Priestess". Plus she's a Dance Battler. Antimony is more tomboyish and a Nerd Action Hero, but she was also a Pom-Pom Girl and has longer hair and bigger breasts than her sister (to Verity's envy).
  • Too Dumb to Live: Kevin Price paraphrases the trope in the heading for Chapter 9 of Pocket Apocalypse.
    "That probably wasn't the smartest thing you've ever done. Points for style, I guess. Points off for being too stupid to live."
  • Trademark Favorite Food:
    • Be prepared for a raucous cheer if you offer the Aeslin mice CHEESE AND CAKE!!!
    • There's a yowie in Australia who takes TimTams as payment. Heaven help you if you forget them.
    • Antimony apparently likes Red Bull enough to mention it by name.
    • Sarah loves tomatoes and tomato products on anything and everything, to an extent which is truly bizarre to human sensibilities.
  • Trail of Bread Crumbs: In "Snakes and Ladders", a kidnapped Alice Healy gets the Aeslin mice with her to leave a trail of candy corn so Fran and Mary can find her.
  • Training from Hell:
    • The Price family begins raising children from the moment they can walk to protect themselves and handle random situations including:
      • The family habitually chloroforms all the kids, throws them in the trunk, drives a roundabout route to a random destination, dumps them there, and expects them to find their way home.
      • The family sets pit traps for the children while they are elementary school age.
    • From Thomas's description in "Off-Balance", the Covenant's methods are even worse. Young trainees, born into the order, are raised and educated in large groups; by age 16, a quarter of them are expected to have died. After age 18, they are assigned to groups of four, exchanging the lack of privacy they're used to for isolation with only three other people. Some have killed themselves at this stage.
  • Train Problem: Parodied in the short story "The Way Home":
    It was all like some sort of dreadful primary school math problem. A bus left Chicago heading toward a remote part of upper Michigan. The bus traveled at a rate of forty miles per hour, which should have meant that the drive would take a little under eight hours. Sadly, this math assumed that the bus was moving, something which it was not always inclined to do. If the bus stopped every fifty miles for a span of fifteen to forty-five minutes, allowing passengers to board, disembark, and mill around socializing while the driver had a smoke behind the depot, how long would it take for the exhausted Englishman sitting in the second row to snap, kill everyone on board, and claim the bus as his own? How long would it take him to hide the evidence? If he began his killing spree while at a remote bus stop, what were his chances of getting away, quite literally, with murder?
  • Trapped in Another World:
    • By the time the series begins, Thomas Price has been missing for nearly fifty years, sent to another dimension by the Crossroads after making a Deal with the Devil with them to save his wife Alice's life. Alice has spent all the intervening time traveling through countless dimensions searching for him.
    • At the end of Imaginary Numbers and for the majority of the next book, Calculated Risks, Sarah, Annie, Artie, James, and Mark are stuck in a dimension of Big Creepy-Crawlies and have to figure out how to get home. Transported along with them are hundreds if not thousands of "zombified" Johrlac and the entire campus of the University of Iowa.
    • In Spelunking Through Hell, Alice finds the dimension where Thomas was sent, a Death World where the Crossroads tossed anyone who made a deal with them and they didn't want to kill, for whatever reason. James's best friend Sally, who also made a deal, is also there. Some of the people trapped there have been there for so long that they have descendants who have never known another world.
  • True Companions: When Antimony goes on the run from the Covenant, she ends up staying with her friends Fern (an old Roller Derby pal) and Megan (the daughter of her brother's assistant, though it's unclear if they'd ever met before she moved in) in Florida. Soon, they're joined by Antimony's maybe-boyfriend Sam (who quickly drops the "maybe") and another roller derby friend, Cylia. It helps that all of them except Antimony are cryptids, and Antimony is from the most prominent family of cryptozoologists on the continent, known as friends to the cryptid community. At the end of the book, Megan parts ways from the group, but in the next book the four of them are joined by James, a young sorcerer who Antimony adopts as a brother at the end. Oh, and Antimony's ghost aunt shows up now and then.
  • Tsuchigumo and Jorogumo: Umeko in Magic for Nothing is a jorōgumo who has been killing locals who visit the carnival.
  • Tuckerization: Several of the minor characters, such as Mike Gucciard and Deanna Taylor Rodriguez, are named after friends of Seanan (listed as "Wicked Girls and Lost Boys" in the album booklet for Wicked Girls). She also has several cats, some of which are named Thomas, Alice, and Elsie.
  • T-Word Euphemism: The word in question being "love". The person speaking it in "The Pilgrimage" begins to actually say the word, then seems to think better of it and backpedals to "like" instead.
  • Two-Timing with the Bestie: Subverted in the Alice and Thomas prequel shorts. Alice has a crush on Thomas but walks in to find her best friend Mary kissing him in front of another woman. It turns out the other woman is Gwendolyn Brandt, Thomas's betrothed, and Mary was pretending to be his wife so Gwendolyn will leave. Unfortunately, Thomas can't tell Alice it's Not What It Looks Like without revealing the ruse, so she runs away in tears.
  • Unicorn: Amongst the cryptids encountered by the families, and the reason for their schism with the Covenant. It turns out unicorns have natural anti-pestilence powers, and their extirpation from most of Europe led to plague outbreaks.
  • Unluckily Lucky: The species hat of Kairos, which have (or had, since they're possibly extinct) unconscious internal luck that made them all Coincidence Magnets.
  • The Unpronounceable: The Aeslin Mice all have names that involve squeaks and chitters, possibly movements of whiskers and ears, and possibly pheromone emissions. As a result, the family either refers to them as "Mouse", whatever their apparent rank in the religious hierarchy is, or they give them a nickname in English.
  • Unstable Powered Woman: When Sarah overexerts herself by rewriting the Covenant team's memories, it damages her mind for years, to the point that it's only in Imaginary Numbers, five years later, that she's healed enough to go back to Oregon. And then the Johrlac hive finds her and forces her to start her metamorphosis into a Johrlac queen (read: Apocalypse Maiden).
  • Unusual Pets for Unusual People: Alex has a pet church griffin (head and wings of a raven, body of a large cat), and when he was younger he had a coatl. The whole Price-Healy family lives with the Aeslin mice, but they're not really "pets". Shelby has a garrinna (a griffin with a galah head and thylacine body), showing how alike she and Alex are.
  • Unwanted False Faith:
    • Professor Naga's opinion about the snake cults. He's not a god, isn't pretending to be a god, and doesn't want to be a god.
    • Subverted with the Price family, who don't consider themselves gods, but accept the Aeslin mice's worship and do their best to be good deities.
  • Valentine's Day Episode: "Broken Paper Hearts" tells the story of Alice's first school-age Valentine's day, which unfortunately also happens to be the day when her mother Fran is killed by parties unknown.
  • Van Helsing Hate Crimes: The Covenant's modus operandi, and the source of their conflict with the Prices.
  • Victoria's Secret Compartment: Alex speculates that it was Charlotte Tanner who taught eldest daughter Shelby to hide brass knuckles unobtrusively in her bra.
  • Virgin Power: Why so many female cryptids are vanishing in Discount Armageddon.
  • Virgin Sacrifice:
    • Snake cults tend to think that sacrificing virgins are the best sacrifices for their snake god masters. What is actually the virgin sacrifice that these snake gods think is best is a sacrifice who's never been cut open rather then anything to do with their victim's sexual habits.
    • Antimony confesses she intentionally lost hers to avoid ending up in a virgin sacrifice ritual.
  • The Virus: Lycanthropy-w, the virus that creates werewolves, can infect any mammal (including mammalian cryptids), though it's immediately fatal in anything smaller than a dog, and ultimately fatal in all cases, since the body simply can't handle the stress of constant transformation.
  • Voice Changeling: As if Apraxis wasps weren't bad enough, what with the laying eggs to develop inside living or dead victims, they absorb the host's mind into their Hive Mind, and can mimic their voice to trick other victims. It's very disturbing when a swarm speaks to Alice in her dead father's voice.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: Daniel Healy is killed after only one cameo at the beginning of a short story. The death of their infant son is a sobering reminder to Jonathan and Frances of how dangerous their lives can be.
  • Weirdness Censor: What cryptids, and those close to them, count on humans doing — rationalizing away any inhuman or other weirdness, such as a church griffin flying overhead.
  • Weirdness Magnet: The Price family seems to always be in the right place at the right time to be involved in major supernatural events, but since they often seek that out, they don't really notice anything unusual. They also have some degree of natural immunity to Johrlac, and both of these traits are revealed to be because they're partially descended from the Kairos species, whose hat is being Unluckily Lucky.
  • Weird West: Several of the short stories, especially The Flower of Arizona, and Stingers and Strangers.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: The Covenant. It's not as if they're wrong about some cryptids being a threat to humans, they just take it way, way too far. (See: their panic over literally every animal in Australia.)
  • Western Rattlers: In the Weird West short story "The Flower of Arizona", the Monster of the Week is a Questing Beast with the body of a mountain lion and the head and tail of a giant rattlesnake.
  • Wetware CPU: In Imaginary Numbers and Calculated Risks, the naturally telepathic Johrlac force Sarah (one of them) to solve cosmic equations in her mind, of which they each have a part passed down via Ghost Memory. To avoid My Skull Runneth Over, she uses the minds of all the other Johrlac (plus part of the minds of her cousins and friends) to offload some of the enormous mental strain, like using a server farm to augment a computer's processing power.
  • Wham Episode:
    • In the main novels, Chaos Choreography is a wham episode due to its ending (in which Verity reveals the family's existence to the Covenant on live TV, kicking off the plot of the next three books).
    • That Ain't Witchcraft has Antimony permanently destroy the Crossroads, affecting events not only in this series, but leading to the finale of the related Ghost Roads trilogy.
    • Imaginary Numbers (and its immediate sequel Calculated Risks, since they're essentially a Multi-Part Episode) has Sarah undergo an Evolution Power-Up, turning her into an Apocalypse Maiden, and ultimately turning nearly all the other Johrlac on Earth into Technically Living Zombies.
    • In the prequel shorts, "Halfway Through the Wood" is a novel-length story that covers not only Enid's death, but Alice finally telling Thomas she loves him, and the bargain Thomas made with the Crossroads for Alice's life.
  • Wicked Wasps: Apraxis wasps are voracious predatory wasps about the size of a man's foot which attack and consume anything they come across. Apraxis wasps implant eggs in their hosts which hatch into nymphs inside the host, releasing a paralyzing agent that sends their host into a coma. These wasps are also highly intelligent and even sapient with the ability to mimic human voices to get closer to their prey and catch then unawares.
    • The Johrlac are mentioned to be physiologically similar to wasps on the inside, though this mostly amounts to them having hemolymph instead of blood and a decentralized circulatory system. They're also the only thing Apraxis wasps are afraid of.
  • Winds of Destiny, Change!: Jinks, namely Uncle Al and Cylia.
  • Winged Humanoid: Caladrius are cryptids who superficially resemble angels. Their feathers heal most illnesses and injuries.
  • Worshipped for Great Deeds: The Aeslin mice worship the Price-Healy family as their Animal Religion, and rely on their gods to protect them from larger threats, like dangerous predators and the Covenant. The human (and not-so-human) members of the family accept this as inevitable (as it's hardwired into the nature of Aeslin mice), though they themselves don't believe they have any godly powers beyond their skills (and in some cases innate magic).
  • Xenofiction: The short stories are often from the perspective of cryptid side characters, who see things very differently from humans. Part of Midnight Blue-Light Special, most of Imaginary Numbers, and all of Calculated Risks are from Sarah's POV.
  • The X of Y: Several of the short stories and novellas follow this pattern.
  • Youkai: "Yokai" is a classification for any cryptid from Japan (and some that are also found in China). So far we've seen a tanuki, a Fūri (who is a major character), and a Jorogumo. Yuki Onna, Kodama, and Kawauso have been mentioned but not seen.
  • Yowies and Bunyips and Drop Bears, Oh My: The Covenant was so appalled by the Everything Is Trying to Kill You nature of Australian wildlife that they tried to purge the entire ecosystem. This is why the Thirty Six Society threw them out.

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