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2013 Story 32

32. ONE HELL OF A RIDE by Seanan McGuire, available for free in various ebook formats on her website.  It's no secret I loved Seanan's first InCryptid novel, DISCOUNT ARMAGEDDON, and am wildly excited for the March release of the second, MIDNIGHT BLUE-LIGHT SPECIAL.  This short story is one of three that sets up some of the family background of the Healy-Price clan, focusing on Jonathan Healy's return home to Michigan from Arizona in the company of Frances Brown. Needless to say, the train-ride doesn't go as expected, said train taking a detour into Hell itself.  I enjoyed the sense of normalcy established at the start of the story, and the sense that these two unlikely companions both enjoy and are exasperated by each other. The sense of the danger the characters are in once the train jumps dimensions is not quite as palpable as it might have been (I never felt like the Border Imps were really a threat to either main character, although clearly they are murderously dangerous to everyone else), but that didn't diminish the story for me. It's like watching episodes of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles after having watched Raiders of the Lost Ark ... you already know the story is about world- and character-building and not about Our Heroes being in any real danger.  But the story zips along like .. well, like a runaway train, and the trip is thrilling.

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