Cover Image: Backpacking through Bedlam

Backpacking through Bedlam

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This is one I had a fun ride while reading but don't remember much about now that it has been a bit of time since reading it. Which is on me for not doing this review sooner. I do remember that I really enjoyed Alice's voice. She is one of the Price family members I didn't have too hard of a time getting into her voice. I would have loved to see the next book from her perspective but I do understand why that narrator was chosen instead.

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I really, really liked the previous title, Spelunking through Hell. This one didn't work quite as well for me.

That said, I still enjoyed it! The writing style was snappy and fun, I still love Alice as a character, and there were a lot of cool little details. I loved the idea that dragons had such sexual dimorphism that the eponymous 'princesses' they were known to kidnap were just what female dragons look like. That's FUN.

But... it felt like it wanted to be a novella (or several novellas), not a novel, and as a result the pacing was off. Basically as I was reading the arc, I noticed several distinct stages:

1-25% = getting home
I got stuck on this section of reading for a while because it felt like the conclusion to the previous book, and not exactly something new.

26-52% = exposition
This part was kind of hard for me to get through, because it was just repeatedly having Sally and/or Thomas meeting new characters and then exposition about those characters and their role in the world and whatever previous novels had been having them doing and so on. LOTS of mentioning what other characters from the InCryptid series had been doing and a sense that it was all starting to come to a head, which is important, but there were basically no plot beats in here for this specific novel besides establishing the Covenant as a threat and raising the fact that Alice was going to have to figure out how to actually make family work now. And I'm invested in that idea, but it was so many introductions and character discussions one after another instead of collating them in some way. In addition, it meant the same jokes or beats kept getting repeated -- we heard so many times about needing a family flowchart, or how complicated the relationships were and so on.

52-60% = a digression that sort of led into the main plot
This did not end up tying back in directly to the main plot and the story it wants to tell, but it did introduce the value of male dragons and the fact the dragons hadn't been hiding themselves so well.

60%-85% - the story's plot
Here we got hook, drive, motivation, action, pause, rising action, danger, climax, and denoument. It was really engaging and exciting once the introductions got cut down -- especially starting about at 70% when Alice was on her own and had to figure out how things work, this book SANG at this point.

The novel ended at 85% (the rest of the book was a bonus novella).

This is in comparison to the previous book, which had Alice struggling on her own with an active goal, risks, and threats that she had to deal with the whole time and felt much more cohesive and contained in itself as a result.

Again: it's not bad. This criticism isn't meant to overwrite the fact that it was fun to read. This is a solid three star read for me! I enjoyed it, and I see what McGuire was going for with this one, given that it's very much like... how do you write a novel when your characters are finally coming home after decades, and give that the weight it needs while still spilling a plot out of it. But I couldn't shake the fact I was noticing these distinct stages that didn't feel like they were part of a cohesive whole single work, either.

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Alice has finally found Thomas after 50 years of searching, now they just have to settle all of the refugees from Thomas’s pocket dimension before they can find a way to settle down and get to know each other and the family they both left behind. I love this series, there’s action, adventure, family drama and talking mice.

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Alice Price-Healy (of the Price family) has spent 50 years looking for her husband. Now she's got him, along with Sally - a young girl who's been trapped in the other dimension with Thomas - and life hasn't simply returned to where it was when he went missing. Alice and Sally don't bond well, each suspicious of the other, but they have Thomas as a common interest. Nothing is the same for Thomas, though he's glad to be out of the strange dimension where he'd been trapped.

Together, the only thing for them to do now is to return home. But 'home' isn't particularly safe - there's a war going on between the Price Family and The Covenant of St. George.

The Price Family are part of a group of cryptozoologists who are dedicated to protecting all supernatural creatures from being discovered by humanity. The Covenant of St. George is a group of people who are dedicated to upholding one ideal - anything that was not present on the Ark with Noah is an unnatural creature (ie "monster") and must be destroyed.

The bad news is that Alice needs to jump in on this call to action. The good news is that Alice is not good at planning but very good at acting on impulse.

I haven't been on the InCryptid journey since the beginning, but I have begun to really take a shine to this series. In general, I really like this concept of a few humans trying to do good by the supernatural/unnatural world. We've been following Alice for a while but things are likely to take a turn now that she's achieved her long-time goal of getting her husband back.

But author Seanan McGuire has created a world that doesn't just revolve around a small handful of characters. There's a whole world of fascinating characters worthy of taking on a storyline. I think the Aeslin Colony - talking mice - could be a fascinating central character (though perhaps too much like the Redwall series).

It's hard to recommend a book like this as a stand-alone book. The series and characters are so intricately intertwined that even though McGuire is quite expert at giving you all the information you need to enjoy a book, there's enough history that you will WANT to be familiar with what came before. I'm beginning to like this series more than McGuire's October Daye series. It was too confusing when I first started reading it, but as I've begun to piece together past events, it's become much more interesting to me.

Looking for a good book? If you like urban fantasy and haven't tried the InCryptid series, you really should give it a read. You can start with this book, Backpacking Through Bedlam by Seanan McGuire,the 12th book in the InCryptid series, and you might be a little confused, but hopefully it will just make you want to read more.

I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

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This book was amazing, I loved the characters and the storyline was well written. I would highly recommend this book to everyone!

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This is number 12 in a series... I love Seanan's work - her Wayward Children's series is one of my favourites... But because this is book twelve in the series, I was so lost

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Backpacking through Bedlam is the twelfth book in the InCryptid series by Seanan McGuire. It took me longer than planned to get to it, since after starting it I quickly I realized I had missed the previous book. I needed to fix that before diving into this one. For audiobook fans, there are very well done versions of this series available. This is very much a series that needs to be read in order.

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 a highly entertaining read, and I am so glad that I have followed this series through this far. Alice and Thomas have found each other and are trying to readjust to life- but nothing is ever easy. I really enjoyed getting to see so many of the storylines from this series, and the companion series, start to come together. I loved getting to know Alice, Thomas, and Sally better- and I enjoyed getting the reminders of past events through in the story as they work to get everyone caught up on what is going on in the world. I love the irreverent humor of Alice and her family, and I cannot wait to see where the story goes from here.

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I received a copy of this book for review from NetGalley. If you've ever wondered what happens after the magical happy ending, this book tells you the truth. It's action- packed and exciting, but it's also a little heartbreaking and shows the cost of an epic quest. I've needed Alice and Thomas together for years, and this is a look at the nuances of a reunion and a happily ever after. I love it.

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A sequel to the previous entry, Spelunking Through Hell, this entry tells the story of what happens now that Alice has finally found Thomas and brings him home. I found the early sections dealing with their efforts to traverse worlds looking to settle the refugees rather tedious and difficult to get through. Once they are home things improved but overall the story was only mildly satisfying. Here's hoping the next installment recaptures the excitement and interest of previous volumes.

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Book Summary:

Alice Price-Healy has finally found her husband. It only took her fifty years of searching. Now it's time to figure out what her (well, their) new normal is. But Price-Healy's version of normal is not, well, normal.

In this case, it means helping a bunch of realm refugees find a home and then coming home to war against the Covenant of St. George. We all knew this war was brewing, but those that have spent time outside of the dimension may have been less aware of how bad things had gotten...

Backpacking Through Bedlam also includes a new InCryptid novella, The Mysteries of the Stolen God and Where His Waffles Went.

My Review:

Yes! Seanan McGuire has done it again. The InCryptid series is delightfully complex, fascinating, and ever-growing. This latest installment, Backpacking Through Bedlam, follows Alice Price-Healy (the series has covered multiple family members at this point).

In a way, Alice is the most unique perspective of the family thus far. She's the oldest and also the most set in her ways. Despite this, she has a lot to learn, and this novel did a great job of driving that point home. I loved it.

I feel like we got a two-for-one deal in Backpacking Through Bedlam. We have a realm/portal adventure (with a side of family drama) for the first part and then a war against a great enemy for the second half (also with a side of family drama). Both were fascinating additions to the lore!

In addition, this novel has a new novella, The Mysteries of the Stolen God and Where His Waffles Went. The novella has multiple perspectives, predominantly James (said Stolen God) and Acadia, one of the Aeslin Mice. In other words, it's pure perfection! Read this novella if you love the Aeslin Mice.

Highlights:
Urban Fantasy
Part of a Series
Family Drama
Dragons & Mythical Creatures
Portal Adventures

Trigger Warnings:
Giant insects
“Monster” hunting sentient creatures

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Seanan McGuire has a new InCryptid tale following the adventures of the matriarch of the Price Family who had gone Backpacking through Bedlam (paper from DAW) for fifty years to rescue her Husband Thomas. Even though both are physically young , they are given no time to recover because the evil Covenant of St. George has sent operatives to New York, and they are driving out the InCryptid population while they go after the nest of Dragons. Alice, Thomas and their new adopted niece Sally have to save the Dragons and force the Covenant back to England. Fun.

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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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I love this series and was curious about what was going to happen after Alice found Thomas. I got more than I bargained and Seanan McGuire didn't disappoint delivering an action packed, entertaining, and fast paced story.
Thoroughly enjoyed it.
Highly recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher for this arc, all opinions are mine

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Alice Healey-Price spent 50 years searching for her husband in the last book, Spelunking Through Hell, to get her happy ending. Now that she has found him, the daughter he adopted, and the people that he had been protecting, she has conflicting feelings about him and their life together. Plus the fact their own children have grown up and no longer need their parents. When they return to their dimension once their mission is accomplished, they find troubling things like the Covenant of St. George trying to retake America, starting with New York.

If you like cryptids, Price-worshipping mice, complicated family relationships, true love, snappy dialogue, worldbuilding, and action, this story will give you happy ending in another adventure of the Price family. Ms. McGuire keeps packing in stories that grow better and better with each book.

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Seanan McGuire’s InCryptid series just gets better and better with each book. The Price Family were once part of the Covenant of St. George, monster hunters, who first set about to rid the world of dragons and who then began to remove anything they deemed “unnatural” even non human, sentient beings, who are harmless. Now the Price family are at odds with their old allies and parts of their own family tree, working as cryptozoologists trying to preserve the creatures their family once hunted.

Different books in the series follow various family members. Backpacking Through Bedlam follows Alice as does the previous book in the series Spelunking Through Hell; I would definitely recommend reading that book prior to this one. Alice became a bounty hunter in order to get access to the magic she would need to find her husband who was taken and hidden by the Crossroads in another dimension. The previous novel deals with her quest and this one takes a peak at what comes after the happily ever after in a moving and poignant way, beyond what you might expect from a series with Gothic Lolita Shapeshifters and ghostly babysitters.
Though there is humor and fun in the books, the deep family relationships including those by birth and found family are the heart of the novels.

Included, as have been in previous books, is a bonus novella dealing with other members of the Price family, in this case “The Mysteries of the Stolen God and Where His Waffles Went” which gives more insight into the lives of the Aeslin Mice, who co-habitat with the Price family and worship them as deities.

I was provided with an advanced copy of the novel through NetGalley and the Publishers in order to provide an honest review for readers.

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The twelfth book in the InCrypid series has us follow Grandma Alice Price-Healy and her long-long, now-found husband Thomas, as they readjust to being married. It's been a very long time coming for readers and for characters, but it's well worth the wait. They have had fifty years of trauma and separation, and they need some time to fit their edges back together, but the world doesn't stop and neither do their problems. From those outstanding at the end of book eleven Spelunking Through Hell to threads from granddaughter Verity's adventures in book one Discount Armageddon, everything is coming together. It's extremely satisfying.

As I was reading, I was acutely aware of the intricate way the Incrypid universe fits together. The events of multiple previous books and five generations of short stories (many free on the author's website or available on Patreon) play into this story, these characters, and their interactions. To make things more complicated, time moves oddly when interdimensional travel is involved so not everything is as we - or Alice - left it. It takes a brilliant mind to fit these stories into such a cohesive whole and I love how this continuity grows and builds upon itself more and more. It's definitely best having read the rest of canon.

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Backpacking Through Bedlam, the 12th installment in Seanan McGuire’s InCryptid series, wraps up one of the series’ long-running subplots: Grandma Alice’s decades-long interdimensional search for her missing husband Thomas. At the same time, the book begins in earnest the Price-Healy clan’s efforts to prevent the Covenant of St. George from invading North America and “cleansing it” of its Cryptid population. Throughout the book, McGuire has a lot to say about the lengths family (biological and found) will go to protect each other and how hard it is for family to forgive each other.

Alice was also the narrator of the previous volume, Spelunking Through Hell, in which (spoilers, sorry, but necessary here) she found Thomas trapped in a bottle dimension (the kind you can be thrown into by sketchy double-crossing cosmic entities, but from which escape is darn near impossible), alongside a whole passel of others in the same position. Backpacking picks up with Alice and Thomas’ efforts to find a safe new dimension for these cosmically-displaced refugees before they (and Thomas’ adopted daughter Sally) can return home. I honestly expected this part of the story to take up more of the book and was surprised it wrapped up so quickly. Not without some life-threatening action one expects from the early pages of an InCryptid book, and still totally satisfactorily in a way that ties back to previous books in the series. It’s a solid start, re-establishing the Alice/Thomas/Sally dynamic, which is not the smoothest. Some of their interactions are hard to read, but they’re also raw and honest dissections of how the images we build of the people we love but haven’t seen in a while can be unrealistic and how hard it is to reconcile who someone has become with who we thought they were. Alice and Thomas have a lot of lost years to navigate through, and I have faith they’ll get there, but it’s not going to be an easy road. Likewise, Sally and Alice’s road to understanding each other and their roles in Thomas’ life is fraught with defensiveness and, dare I say, possessiveness that these women will have to find common ground on.

And all of this is before the three return to Earth and get shuffled off to New York City to help granddaughters Verity and Sarah and their friends fight off the latest incursion by the Covenant of St. George, the evil, self-righteous Cryptid-killing organization that Alice’s grandparents and Thomas himself defected from. Thanks to Verity’s actions in a previous book, the Covenant has decided to take the long-thought-dead Price-Healy family “off the map” for good. (Which is going to be much harder than the Covenant thinks, because, well, Price-Healys, man.) In between several fantastic fight scenes, we get to watch Alice introduce Thomas to some of the grandkids (and great-grandkids) he only just found out exist. And that does not go well at first. Verity and her siblings and cousins have always known about Grandma Alice’s quest, but none of them really thought she’d succeed. And that quest came at the price of strained relationships even with the grandkid who most understands her. The years of absence, even with the quest successful, weigh on every scene between Alice and Verity and Alice and Sarah. The pain, the mistrust, the slow lowering of guards, is palpable. Moreso because there is no sudden “oh, okay, we forgive you and we accept this stranger you say is our grandfather and this girl who is now our adopted aunt even though she’s younger than us” moment. But even with all the discomfort and pain, the book is a celebration of the family we build around ourselves from biology and adoption. Alice has a lot of rebuilding to do, and Thomas and Sally have a lot of learning-how-they-fit-in to do. But the door, at least, is open. I for one am looking forward to learning where that door leads, as well as what the Covenant’s next move is going to be. I’m also looking forward to learning, eventually, who will be narrating the next installment since McGuire changes narrators frequently in this series.

The book also contains a novella, “The Mysteries of the Stolen God and Where His Waffles Went!” which focuses on the Price family compound in the immediate aftermath of Alice, Thomas, and Sally’s brief visit at the end of Spelunking Through Hell. Some family members are happy Alice has found Thomas and will be returning to the fold. Some are still very angry at Alice. But the focus is on the newest adopted Price sibling, James, and his reaction to learning that his childhood friend Sally, thought lost to the Crossroads, is alive and coming home. I loved this close look at how James has been adapting to being a member of the family and being worshipped by the family’s colony of Aeslin mice, at how it has not necessarily been an easy road for James to follow (but still much better than the horrible life he left behind). The Aeslin mice are fan favorites, and we get a really solid look at how new clergy and new rituals develop in their belief system (where every male in the Price-Healy family is a God and every female a Priestess) through the eyes of James’ first Aeslin priest. Both James and the two mice featured are unsure of their footing, of their place, of what their futures will hold. I look forward to seeing where their paths take them as the InCryptid series progresses. I’m also not ashamed to say that James has become my favorite character in the series.

I received an electronic advance reading copy of this book for free from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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Series Info/Source: This is the 12th book in the Incryptid series. I got a copy of this as an ebook through Netgalley to review.

Thoughts: I ended up really loving this, I am thoroughly enjoying reading these stories from Alice's POV.

In this book Alice and Thomas are reunited but they have a commitment to find worlds for all of Thomas's people to live in. After that, they return home and are hoping to try to start a normal life when they get news that the trouble that Verity started with the Covenant has some to a head...war is imminent.

I loved all the craziness and world-hopping at the beginning of the book. The book switches tone about a third of the way in as Alice and Thomas end up in New York dealing with all the craziness that the Covenant is causing there. I enjoyed this part of the book a lot too. There is a lot of action and it was fun to watch Sally (Alice and Thomas's adopted daughter of sorts) interact with all these types of cryptids for the first time.

I did feel like the battle was a bit anti-climatic at the end. I assume this is just the start of the war with the Covenant but the end of the book kind of feels like the Covenant was maybe driven off for good, I was a bit confused about where everything was going by the end.

I also struggled a bit with the novella because I kept getting family members mixed up. The novella that is included deals with Sally's old friend (James I think?) and alternates between his POV and that of the Aeslin mice that have decided to worship him. It was a cute novella and does give some insight into how the Aeslin mice live, but I didn't enjoy it as much as the full length story.

My Summary (5/5): Overall I really loved this. McGuire's Incryptid series is one of my favorite series that she writes. I have really been enjoying Alice's POV and all the crazy worlds and species we get to meet. I hope we get another book from Alice's POV in the future. I would like to shift from this type of parallel world hopping to more focus back on the cryptids in the future, but we will see where things go.

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Alice and Thomas are reunited at last, and making their way back home to Buckley. Their absence has shaped the lives of their descendants, and now that they're back, exactly what they plan to do is an open question. Luckily, life for the Price family is never boring, and they are needed in New York to fight the Covenant. Much of the book sets up the pieces for the next one, but series fans will enjoy the process.

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Another exciting, action-packed adventure in the world of InCryptids, and another fascinating (and even emotional) look at the Price family dynamics. This installment focuses on married couple Alice and Thomas, reunited after an involuntary separation of 50 years (still miraculously maintaining the health and looks of people in their 20s), who have to reestablish their relationship, in between yet more dangerous missions and quests. This series is great, and I hope it continues for many, many more books!

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