Seanan McGuire’s That Ain’t Witchcraft is the eighth installment in the InCryptid Series, and the third one featuring Antimony Price, youngest in the Price family of clandestine cryptozoologists. Book 3 picks up right where the last one left off, with Annie on the run with boyfriend and furi Sam, and friends Cylia the jink and Fern the sylph. Their travels have taken them to the quiet town of New Gravesend, Maine, in a big house on a secluded plot of land surrounded by forest and a lake. Everything seems perfect for a brief respite from the refugee life… perhaps too perfect?
Long story short, the Crossroads own this town, and resident James Smith wants revenge. However, Annie has a life debt with the Crossroads, and they want her to pay up by taking a life for them. To top it all off, Leonard the evil Covenant leader-to-be is hot on her tail. All Annie wants to do is to go home, and nothing is going right.
I love Seanan McGuire, like, a lot. She is on my insta-purchase list, and one of the few writers I don’t want to kill for first-person narrative overuse. McGuire’s world builds are amazing and her mythologies are well-researched and incorporated seamlessly into the present world. In this series, the Crossroads, a quasi-elemental force that helps people make tough deals for a price, incorporates some wonderful Americana elements that you don’t often see in UA.
That being said, all of her characters are also well-written, but come with flaws (as characters should). Some of them are acceptable to me – for example, Alex, Annie’s older brother, is an introverted and awkward nerd, but I can live with that. Annie, on the other hand… she’s a handful, even for a youngest. Having three books in a row with her as the protagonist in a series that I LOVED previously, when it focused on Verity and Alex, has been trying.
- The worldbuild. I know I have already said it, but the combination of the different mythologies, travelling across the country on a pseudo-road trip with fun cryptids, America as a haven for cryptids and a place where the Crossroads are alive, all come together.
- A satisfying ending. This book could have felt extremely confused and busy, with the Covenant, the Crossroads, and a new sorcerer in the mix, but everything blended smoothly into a fitting conclusion that leaves the reader excited to see what happens next and not confused about the direction everything went in.
- The short story. Not to spoil too much, this book comes with a short story that follows Alex, Shelby, Sarah, and a group of gorgons, and it is essentially everything I loved about this series. Also, it promises SO MUCH more for the series!
Not So Hot
- Annie. I have never really been a fan of the youngest Price, but this book accentuated everything I dislike about her character – the chip on her shoulder about never being the best, or how weird she was, or how much she resents Verity. Annie has a lot on her plate, it is true, and she has been dealt a bad hand. However, her youngest griping got old halfway through book 1.
- For that matter, Sam. I wanted to like Sam – he has an interesting backstory, he’s a really cool cryptid, and he makes Annie happy. Unfortunately, none of that matters given that his entire character arc revolves around Annie’s. Sam is completely attached at the hip to Annie (sometimes quite literally), and it is frankly really annoying. Their relationship doesn’t seem healthy to me, even with the frequent explanations provided by Annie throughout the book (again, who wants to listen to a girl make excuses for a guy all the time?)
All in all, I really enjoyed this installment for the continuity and the buildup to the next book, which will feature Sarah, a cuckoo recovering from mind trauma who is as loveable as can be. I liked the major revelations, and was extremely grateful for the short story, but am looking forward to having Annie’s main character POV in the back window. I highly recommend this series from start to finish for all UA fans, and feel like my review wouldn’t apply to people that like Annie, but this is how I felt about it. Three out of five waves, but that’s not a reflection of the series! Get your copy NOW here!