Release Day Review: Chaos Choreography by Seanan McGuire

Chaos ChoreographyChaos Choreography by Seanan McGuire
Book #5 in InCryptid
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publication Date: March 1st 2016
ARC Provided by DAW and Netgalley

Synopsis from Goodreads: Fifth book in Seanan McGuire’s funny and fast-paced urban fantasy InCryptid series featuring ballroom dancer and monster expert Verity Price.

Verity Price is back on the West Coast and getting back into the swing of the family business: cryptozoology. She’s rescuing cryptids from bad situations, protecting them from monster-hunters, and generally risking life and limb for the greater good, with her ex-Covenant partner/husband, Dominic, by her side. Her ballroom dance career is behind her—or so she thinks. When Verity gets the call from the producers of Dance or Die, the reality show she almost won several years before, she finds the lure impossible to resist, and she and Dominic are off to L.A. for one last shot at the big time.

Of course, nothing is that simple. When two contestants turn up dead, Verity will need every ally she can find with the investigation, without blowing her cover…

 

Christal’s Review

After two books with Alex and Shelby, it was nice to have Verity back in Chaos Choreography.  Don’t get me wrong – I enjoyed the last two books, but there’s just something innately interesting about Verity’s voice.  It was great to be back in her head and to be immersed in the world of dance, while the cryptozoology world was still banging at the door.

Verity is the Price child that has always had one foot in the family business and one foot in show business.  She’s a fantastic dancer and Chaos Choreography finally shows us what dancing means to Verity and how it affects her life.  When she dances, she leaves everything behind and becomes Valerie, a young woman without any knowledge of cryptids or the supernatural world around her.  Here, we get to see Verity join a So You Think You Can Dance-type reality show, Dance or Die.  She previously competed on the show, but didn’t win, and has been invited back for their all-star season.  Because her Valerie Pryor identity is still fairly well-known, Verity figures it would bring even more investigation and attention if she didn’t do the show.  She signs on with the intent that this is it; if she doesn’t win, she’s out and dedicated to the cryptid world indefinitely.  Of course, being a Price means she can’t ever really get away from the supernatural world.  Verity soon finds herself in the middle of a snake cult sacrificing the eliminated dancers.

As I’ve previously said, I absolutely love Verity and her POV.  I think she’s smart and funny and down to Earth with a personality that sparkles as much as her sequined tango costumes.  It was nice to see her interaction with Dominic as well.  This was the first time he was really acting on his own, outside of the orders of the Covenant, and it was great to see him finding himself.  I also liked that he didn’t try to change Verity, as much as her actions might have worried him from time to time.  He knows the woman he married and he loves everything about her, tendency to run into danger and all.  The new character in this book (and on the cover) is Verity’s grandmother, Alice.  I thought she was fantastic and the little we learned about her and her interdimensional travels just left me wanting more.  There were also two new cryptids in this story, Malena the chupracabra and Pax the Ukupani.  Both were great friends to Verity and helpful with her investigation.  Malena was my favorite of the two and I would definitely like to see her pop up again.

I loved the reality dance show environment in Chaos Choreography.  The competition between the dancers combined with their camaraderie felt authentic.  While everyone wanted to win, they also wanted the best for their friends.  The behind-the-scenes elements and the “reality” of reality TV life were also quite fascinating.  That said, the snake cult mystery itself seems a little lacking now that I look back on it.  Valerie and her friends did a lot of snooping and investigating, plus a lot of preparing for and speculating on the strength of the magician, but the reveal of the snake cult villains just seemed thrown out there at the end.  They revealed themselves on their own (in a completely unsubtle way) without Verity and Co. really having any suspicions on who they were beforehand.  I loved the buildup throughout the story and Verity’s antics were always amusing, but it felt like their actions were for naught.  Everything would have played out exactly as it did, whether or not they were investigating the cult.

I think the true strength of Chaos Choreography and Verity as a character here is that she finally, truly figured out what she wants out of life.  She realizes she has outgrown her Valerie persona and the world of professional dance and has come to embrace her role as a cryptozoologist.  She has found her higher calling, the place where she can make a difference, and she is embracing it.  Nothing, not even dance, feels as important as her dedication to the cryptid communities.  It’s not that she’s gotten dance out of her system because she will always love it; she has just realized that it is not the most important thing in her heart anymore and now she can happily move on.  I loved seeing Verity figure this out and to be able to willingly dedicate herself to life she chose.

I think InCryptid readers will love this installment and new readers will also find a lot to enjoy, though I don’t really recommend Chaos Choreography as your introductory point.  I feel like Verity’s story has come full-circle here and, while I’ll definitely miss her narrating the upcoming installments and hope she isn’t gone for good, I’m looking forward to seeing what Antimony has to say in the next two books.

Thank you to DAW Books via Netgalley for providing an ARC copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 4 Stars = B

Series Reading Order:
1. Discount Armageddon
2. Midnight Blue-Light Special
3. Half-Off Ragnarok
4. Pocket Apocalypse
5. Chaos Choreography
6. Magic for Nothing (Expected publication: 2017)
7. Tricks for Free (Expected publication: 2018)

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