Cover Image: Backpacking through Bedlam

Backpacking through Bedlam

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This is not the place to start with the Incryptid series. At the very least go back to the previous books Spelunking Through Hell. I recommend that you start at the beginning though, they are lots of fun with multiple characters as the protagonists.

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Thanks to Netgalley and DAW publishing for gifting me an early copy of this book. My honest review follows.

Everybody... Incryptid is awesome. Are you reading it? You should be if you aren't. If you are, high five to you!

This one picks up where Spelunking through Hell left off, so at the VERY LEAST, you should have read that one before starting this one.

Backpacking through Bedlam starts by tying up some loose ends from Spelunking, then diving back into the "our dimension"/"rest of the family" storyline. Verity's behavior, coupled with Annie's, has sparked a war with the Covenant. Who better to help with that than Alice and the gang?

I don't want to spoil too much or give away a lot of the story, but I really enjoyed the new dynamic between Alice and everyone, now that her lifelong quest is completed and things are supposed to be getting back to "normal." I can't wait to see more of the family reunions, especially James and Sally, now that they've both been adopted by the Prices - the short novella at the end of the book hinted at this upcoming storyline.

And if having another awesome Incryptid novel wasn't enough, we get a novella at the end that has two POVs in it. James is one... and the other? AN AESLIN MOUSE. They are one of the best creations in all of Urban Fantasy, and I loved this POV.

Highly recommended series. It's one of my absolute favorites. Not the best place to start, but if you haven't read the rest and choose to pick this one up, I hope that it drives you to go back and read the rest of them.

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This book broke my heart, but in a really good way. I'm excited for where the series can go after this. Seanan McGuire's writing style is one of my favorites out there and I'm incredibly attached to most of her series. Incryptid is one of my favorites and I didn't think I'd ever care about Alice, but here I am, caring. I was worried for a large part of the book about the relationships of the characters and I was shocked by some of the big changes. To be able to make her readers csre the way she does is an incredible skill and there are so many books I don't finish or series I walk away from, because I just don't care. That has never been a problem with McGuire's different series and this latest InCryptid novel continues to suck you in. I don't know how the timeline will play out now, but I'm so excited to see.

McGuire starts the book by saying she decided to not have the pandemic in the series and I'm so so so glad she made that decision. My mind immediately went to, would Cryptids be able to get the care they need during a pandemic when many struggle anyway? It would completely change the story line, and while it would no doubt be a good story line, I don't think it's the one McGuire wants to write and it would leave so many questions unanswered.

I think she did a lot of things really well with this book. My only complaint is it felt a little slower than some of the others in the series, but I think that had to happen. Alice is a hard character to defend given her history of abandoning her children and McGuire manages to make her someone the reader is sympathetic and compassionate about, with this book more than the previous one.

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I've read the Mira Grant zombie books so I thought I would give this a try... not realizing that it was #12 in a whole series. That being said, even though being dropped into an ongoing story it was easy to catch my bearings and root for Alice and Thomas. If you are a fan of InCryptid you will enjoy this latest book!

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Alice finally found her missing husband after fifty years. Now they are going home, but first they have to find a hospitable place to drop off several hundred refugees from the bottle dimension where Thomas was trapped. Once they make it back to Earth, all of their troubles should be over for a while, right? Um, no.

Fun, but not the place to start with this series. Best place: at the beginning. Second best place: the previous book, Spelunking Through Hell.

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Backpacking through Bedlam by Seanan McGuire. McGuire always seems to deliver and this book is starting to wrap up threads and tie things altogether. If you are a fan of the series, you won't want to miss this book!

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I enjoyed the plot of this addition to the Cryptid series. I enjoyed getting to know more about Thomas. The battle with the Covenant was a high point and getting caught up on New York crowd was great. I liked that we got to hear about some family not present. Some of the novel seemed unnecessary, and I wish we could have had more of a family reunion for everybody. I do not know if that is building, but I am so ready for that.

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I've been waiting for Alice's story for years, and so I was excited when the last book finally let her take the lead. I was a little disappointed that we didn't get to see her actually interact much with Thomas in that one, so I'm happy to say that this second Alice book definitely fixes that. It was so much fun to finally get to see Alice and Thomas interact as a married couple, and start to see some of the aftermath of their long separation. Backpacking Through Bedlam makes it clear that while they still obviously love each other, the fact that they've spent fifty years apart (and that their relationship wasn't exactly standard before that) means that they definitely have some work to do before they really establish a rhythm. There's also the added complication of Sally (basically adopted by Thomas while he was away), and the Covenant once again causing trouble in New York.

I loved seeing the various characters here as they tried to find their footing with one another. It was also really nice to get to check in with Verity and Dominic in New York, and get a real glimpse of what life has been like since her impulsive televised declaration of war. This series is at its best when multiple main characters get a chance to interact, and after several kind of separate adventures it looks like things are starting to join back up. This book also gave a few teasing looks at what's been going on with Sarah and Artie, at least enough to show us that there's more story to be told there. In the meantime, Alice and Thomas are finally back together, Sally makes a great new family addition, and the mice are, as always, flawless.

(The short story after the end of the book follows the recent pattern of filling in an empty space in the story. In this case, what happened with the rest of the family once Kevin spread the word that Alice and Thomas were finally on their way home. We also get to see James' reaction to finding out about Sally, and we get some wonderful content on the mice.)

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HAIL! The mice are back!

/Backpacking Through Bedlam/ is the twelfth novel in Seanan McGuire's Incryptid series. More important, it is Grandma Alice's second major outing. McGuire has told us that Sarah Zellaby and Alice Healy-Price were the key characters around whom she built the Incryptid series. (McGuire plans her series many years in advance -- this is a pattern that she has shown in both the Incryptid and October Daye series.) Sarah's main outings were novels 9 and 10, /Imaginary Numbers/ and /Calculated Risks/. Alice took her big step in novel 11, /Spelunking Through Hell/. With novel 12, /Backpacking Through Bedlam/, we enter a new phase of the Incryptid series. Oversimplifying -- novels 1-11 were the world-building novels. (Eleven novels and ten years of world-building. Impressive!) In novels 9 and 10 Sarah graduated, so to speak -- she is now an immensely powerful telepath and can in addition manipulate space and time. Another key character was brought into the fold in novel 11 -- Alice's husband Thomas, the patriarch of the Price family. What all that means, I think, is The Gang's All Here. (Not to say that it won't expand more -- one of the more endearing characteristics of the Price family is their tendency to take in strays. But the core family is now all present and ready for action.)

Alice's background is important in understanding /Backpacking Through Bedlam/. Years ago there was a race of cryptids called Kairos. They were a type of cryptid who manipulated luck. They were also immune to telepathic manipulation, and were therefore the nemesis of Johrlacs (like Sarah). The Johrlacs and the Covenant wiped out the purebred Kairos. However, Alice's mother Fran Brown was the daughter of a Kairos father and a human mother. Thus Fran was half Kairos and Alice is a quarter Kairos. She has substantial resistance to telepathy, and she has Kairos luck. Kairos luck means that improbable coincidences happen to her reliably. Kairos coincidences can be good luck or bad luck. I think the simplest description of Kairos luck is, "Things fall into place." An even more pointed description is "Kairos luck causes those coincidences that are most convenient for a fiction author who doesn't want to come up with a plausible rationale to bring all her pieces into play."

Unlike most of the Price family, Alice is not a planner. She herself says, "Thinking about the future has never been my area of expertise. Hell, thinking beyond what I was going to do tomorrow has never been my strong suit. Reacting is my primary way of dealing with the world." This works for her because of her Kairos luck.

The plot of /Backpacking Through Bedlam/ appears weak to nonexistent. There is not really much of a conventional plot -- there is no one big issue we're trying to deal with throughout /Backpacking Through Bedlam/. A sort of plot does show up at about the 50% point and hang on through to the end, but it is the default plot of the entire Incryptid series <spoiler>Price Family/Convenant war</spoiler>, so, to my mind, hardly counts. Instead /Backpacking Through Bedlam/ feels like what McGuire has elsewhere called a stitch-up -- a novel-shaped object pieced together from a bunch of related stories.

I was less bothered by this than you might expect, because I suspect McGuire had a reason to do it that way. This, I think, is her way of showing us what the world looks like to Alice and her Kairos heritage. In fact, I really enjoyed reading /Backpacking Through Bedlam/. It was fun to see all these old friends together and to come to understand them better. I was disappointed by Alice in /Spelunking Through Hell/, which I rated only three stars. Alice is much more likeable in /Backpacking Through Bedlam/.

Another reason for liking /Backpacking Through Bedlam/ is the one I alluded to at the top: the Aeslin Mice, who were absent for most of /Spelunking Through Hell/, are back in /Backpacking Through Bedlam/.

So, summing up, /Backpacking Through Bedlam/ is a jumble of stuff, but it's fun stuff, lots of old friends bouncing off each other in entertaining ways, and there's a cognizable justification for the jumble. I waffled between three stars and four, but decided to give McGuire four for what I saw as a creative way of showing us Alice's character and world.

As usual, the book contains a bonus novella, /The Mysteries of the Stolen God and Where His Waffles Went/. In this novella point of view alternates between James Price and an Aeslin Mouse Acadia, who is one of his priestesses. James is The Stolen God (formerly James Baker, now calling himself James Price), whom Antimony more or less kidnapped (with his consent) from Maine where he grew up. In /Spelunking Through Hell/ we met Sally, who had been banished to the same Crossroads exile as Thomas and become his second-in-command and de facto adopted daughter there. Sally Henderson was James' best friend in Maine and had made her deal with the Crossroads to get him out of his hometown. At the end of /Spelunking/ Alice brought her to Kevin Price's compound in Oregon. She stole James' waffles and told the folks there (folks including Aeslin Mice) to tell James that Sally stole his waffles.

As you have no doubt guessed from the title, that communication is the subject of the novella. We see more deeply into the civilization and religion of the Aeslin in this story than we ever have before.

This was GREAT fun. If I were to rate the novella on its own, it would get five stars.

I thank NetGalley and DAW for an advance reader copy. This review expresses my honest opinions. Book release date 7-Mar-2023. Review publication 21-Feb 2023.

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Well, I loved these reads! I love Seanan McGuire's writing so much, so when I got the chance to read this book, this is the first one that I picked up this month! This latest installment was so fantastic, and I can't wait to see what the future brings for this series.

In the author's note of the last book, it mentioned that that book was what she envisioned, for the stepping point for this series, of the stories beyond it, when she started this series. Which is a bit wild. And this is the first book after that, and all the pieces that were put into place, with the Covenant knowing about the Prices. And oh, was it a fun adventure!

There were many things I wanted from this book. To see Alice and Thomas to make it home, to have that time to relax. To see everyone's reactions to the fact that she did succeed after 50 years. We did get some of the reactions, in Backpacking, and in Mysteries of the Stolen God. I'm just so excited to see where things go from here!

The Mysteries of the Stolen God were really great, because along with Thomas, Sally is back-and James is the reason why she made that bargain in the first place. So there's all sorts of complicated emotions going on. And we got the perspective of Acadia, one of his new mouse priests. It was great to get their perspective in another story!

These were such great reads, and I can't wait for more in this series!

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With any long series, it's hard to say whether you recommend a book - if you like the series, you should and will read it. If you haven't read this series, this is definitely not the place to start, as several plot threads are resolved from multiple books in the series, including the very first one, not to mention characters from other series that are tangentially related also make appearances. Overall, it's an engaging read, although it certainly feels like the real emotional work has not yet been done by any of the characters who are just trying to survive. Overall, I like Alice and Thomas but enjoyed the last book more, because this one is dealing with too many consequences from previous books to really dive into their story. I hope the next one really look at the ripple effects of their coming back to to their family .

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Alice and Thomas make it back to their house only to be called to a battle with the Covenant. Plus a bonus story. ARC from NetGalley.

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another great entry in the InCryptid series, it had what I enjoyed from Seanan McGuire's writing. It's always a good storyline and has great urban fantasy universe. I really had a good time reading this and getting back to the characters from this universe. I look forward to reading more from Ms. McGuire.

"But this was what I’d wanted. This was what I’d been searching for. And exhausted and overwhelmed as I was right now, I wouldn’t change a thing, because he was home. With me, in Buckley. We were both still ourselves, bar a little—or a lot—of trauma, and some telepathic tinkering with my head that we might never have all the details on. We were home."

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