That Ain’t Witchcraft is a masterclass in how to keep a series going


Seanan McGuire is on the top of her literary game, and her latest release, That Ain’t Witchcraft, is a heck of a way to start her 2018 book releases.

There are right ways and wrong ways to do series of books. This writer would know, as she spends a lot of time reading entries in series, from opening books to closing chapters. After reading That Ain’t Witchcraft, the eighth (eighth!) book in Seanan McGuire’s InCryptid series, it is safe to say that yes, McGuire knows how to do a series.

Sure, you could look at October Daye and come to the same conclusion, but that series has had one consistent narrator throughout its main entries (novellas and short stories notwithstanding). InCryptid is on its third narrator, who is herself in her final book of a three-book arc, and still is just as enthralling as it was when we first met Verity Price in the first book in the series. (McGuire has publicly said this is why she “can never burn out” on the books, and it is the kind of secret that we enjoy knowing.)

Maybe it’s the feeling that Antimony Price has stopped running and started putting all her knowledge to use; maybe it’s the culmination of everything that she’s faced in the two previous books coming to a head in New Gravesend, Maine; maybe it’s just that she’s rough, tough, hard to bluff, and also so vulnerable that it shakes a reader. Annie has come into her own as a protagonist, but hasn’t developed so much that she doesn’t have her flaws and something that looks an awful lot like a complex when it comes to her big sister, Verity.

This is perhaps not as achingly beautiful of a book as The Girl in the Green Silk Gown, but it doesn’t have to be. Antimony is not Rose Marshall, though Rose comes to play in this book for reasons I shall not spoil, and so her narration feels different. What it is, however, is like Annie herself: moments where she jams through a point that hurts, because she’s a derby girl, and other times where she’s very much the baby of the family, but she’s the baby of the Price family. That means something after seven books, but even after seven books, this series has the capacity to throw twists your way, yet make them be believable within the scope of the world.

Also, there is a thing called Corn Blight, and yet it is completely terrifying. Don’t underestimate the corn. It’s not a spoiler; it appears early enough in the book, and it sets the tone for the rest of the novel in its own way, as it should, without appearing related at first glance.

More. 30 books that you can totally judge by their covers. light

That Ain’t Witchcraft tells the kind of story that all series should be so lucky to have: one with world-bending ramifications that still feels so deeply personal that you don’t question if this could have been someone else’s book to narrate. McGuire has honed her craft over a decade-plus of writing, and if you call yourself a sci-fi or fantasy fan, yet haven’t picked her work up, you’re doing yourself a disservice.