Review copy was received from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Backpacking Through Bedlam by Seanan McGuire
Series: Incryptid #12
Published by DAW Books on March 7, 2023
Genres: Urban Fantasy
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1. The state of being united again.
1. An act of reconciling, as when former enemies agree to an amiable truce.
2. The process of making consistent or compatible.
3. See also “impossible.”
Alice Price-Healy gave up her life for fifty years to focus completely on the search for her missing husband. The danger of focus like that is that it leaves little room for thinking about what happens after…and now that she’s finally managed to find Thomas, she has no idea what she’s supposed to do next. The fact that he comes with a surrogate daughter who may or may not have some connection to Alice’s recently adopted grandson is just icing on the complicated cake.
So the three of them are heading for the most complicated place in the universe: they’re going home.
But things on Earth have changed while Alice, Thomas, and Sally have been away. The Covenant of St. George, antagonized by Verity’s declaration of war and Sarah’s temporary relocation of an entire college campus, is trying to retake North America from the cryptids and cryptozoologists who’ve been keeping the peace for the past hundred years. And they’re starting in New York.
Alice and company have barely been back for an hour before the Ocean Lady and the Queen of the Routewitches are sending them to New York to help, and they find themselves embroiled in the politics of dragons, kidnappings, and of course, the most dangerous people of all: family.
Getting “back to normal” may be the hardest task Alice has undertaken yet.
Backpacking through Bedlam is the 12th book the Incryptid series, unless you are reading all the short stories as well, then I think it is closer to triple digits. You should read the entire series in order to really understand everything happening in this book, at minimum you will need to have read Spelunking Through Hell, Alice’s story to find her husband lost for 50 years due to a deal made with the Crossroads. Reunited, they are now trying to figure out how to live together after so long apart and find a new path together.
Thomas and Alice have a rare and unique love and kept it alive for fifty years while they were separated. Alice has been fighting on her own for so long she isn’t used to having a team to depend on. Thomas has been the leader of a population of others also stranded in the same place he was, he feels responsible for all of those people and wants to help find them a home before Alice and Thomas and Sally, Thomas’s adoptive daughter, head back to earth. This story actually feels like it is two separate stories. There are the travels to get Thomas’s people somewhere they can call home and then there is the second half that is a story of getting the Covenant out of New York. It is a bit disjointed and I will say the plot is almost non-existent in installment, it is more like two or three shorter stories pressed together into one book.
Verity and Sarah are helping the Cryptids of New York hide from the long time Price family nemesis the Covenant, an organization bent on exterminating non human beings that don’t ‘fit’ into there version of what sapient creatures should be. The Covenant has heard of a dragon in New York and are there to find William (said Dragon). This is actually the most interesting part of the story where all the plotting really is. There are some reunions with family, understanding of Alice’s non human heritage and how it plays into her unique luck and imperviousness to telepathy. I was a bit bored as we travelled to find homes for Thomas’s charges from a bottle world, the second half of the story was much more interesting to me.
We can really think of books 1-9 as world building books with interesting stories in them. After that for Sarah and Alice’s books, I think we are nearing the possible end of the series, or at least it feels like that. Backpacking through Bedlam had some interesting moments but I would say it is one of the weakest plotted books in the series, so it seems like unless there is a shift of some kind in the next book, we are at the end. This second chance romance was one I have been pulling for, for years through the other books and as Grandma Alice has now found the love of her life, Thomas, it felt like we are close to the end.
Overall, not my favorite book of the series, there are so many great ones leading up to this one to compare it to. But if you have read the rest of the series, you are also probably pulling for Alice and Thomas to get a HEA after all of these years. A must read for series lovers to get the closure many of us were looking for.
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