Midnight Blue-Light Special  - Seanan McGuire

I enjoyed the originality and sass of "Discount Armageddon", the first book in this series about professional ballroom dance and cryptozoologist, Verity Price and I wanted to know how Verity would fare, given the mess she'd created by the end of the book, so I picked up "Midnight Blue-Light Special" to find out.

The first third of the book failed to grab my interest, partly because it seemed to spend a lot of time repeating things that anyone who'd read the first book would already know (I hate that - readers should either read the books in order or live with catching up as best they can) and partly because telling the story from Verity's point of view, which is compulsively sassy, made it hard to get engaged with the threat to her and the community of Cryptids.

I was almost on the point of giving up when Seanan McGuire made an inspired move: she had someone knock out Verity and passed the storytelling on to Verity's adopted cousin Sarah.

This worked well because Sarah is very different to Verity. She isn't sassy, she's risk-averse and deals with conflict by avoiding it. She's also not human. She's a Cuckoo, a cryptid that can control minds and get people to see and do whatever she wants. This is a power that effectively makes her invisible but which she holds back on because she doesn't want to turn her friends into slaves. Once the story was seen through Sarah's eyes, everything was refreshed, the threat was amplified and the action became hard to predict.

By the time Verity regains consciousness and takes over the storytelling again, she's in very serious trouble, sass has been replaced by a struggle to survive and we're into well-written action scenes.

The ending was clever and plausible and moved the story arc on significantly, which means the third book will probably head in a new direction.

This was a fun read, eventually, and I still have hopes for this series.