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Seanan McGuire's Backpacking Through Bedlam Turns 'Happily Ever After' on Its Head

The 12th book in McGuire's bestselling InCryptid series finally reunites long lost sorcerer Thomas Price with his family.

Seanan McGuire and Backpacking Through Bedlam
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  • Photo Credit: Ryan Nutick

In the New York Times-bestselling and Hugo-nominated urban fantasy series InCryptid, Seanan McGuire has taken the modern world and turned it on its head, filling familiar places such as the streets of New York City or the outback of Australia with not-so-familiar creatures. These creatures are called cryptids, or monsters whose existence has been suggested but never proven. Cryptids are studied by very inventive, very brave (and very idiotic) cryptozoologists, who study all of the monsters that evade natural science. They are tasked with protecting the populace from cryptid threats and keeping cryptid secrets, which is exactly what the Price family has been doing for generations. 

Over the course of twelve books, McGuire has woven an adventure-filled story of dimension-hopping cryptozoologists, generational conflicts, and impossibly cute, talking Aeslin mice, told to readers through multiple perspectives—five so far—from members of the Price family.

Verity Price: Professional ballroom dancer/monster hunter. Verity is the narrator of Discount Armageddon (#1), Midnight Blue-Light Special (#2), and Chaos Choreography (#5)

Alex Price: The only son, and a working cryptoherpetologist. Alex is the narrator of Half-Off Ragnarok (#3) and Pocket Apocalypse (#4).

Antimony “Annie” Price: The youngest sibling, who would much rather be doing roller derby than hunting monsters. Annie is the narrator of Magic for Nothing (#6), Tricks for Free (#7), and Ain’t No Witchcraft (#8).

Sarah Zellaby: The adopted Price cousin. Sarah leads us through Imaginary Numbers (#9) and Calculated Risks (#10)—and is actually a cryptid herself. She's a cuckoo, a telepathic ambush predator more akin to a parasitic wasp than a human being. Though Sarah is a wonderful friend, beloved cousin, and accomplished mathematician, it's never been enough to dispel the fear that one day, nature will win out over nurture, and everything will change. 

Alice Price-Healy: The matriarch of the Price family and a staple character in the Incryptid series from the very beginning. Much to fans’ delight, Alice takes over the story in Spelunking through Hell (#11), and the forthcoming Backpacking through Bedlam (#12), which will be on shelves everywhere on March 7th, 2023. Though Alice does not become the narrator until later books, her wise words introduce and guide the entire series.

Alice says, "True love always shoots to kill." 

And more than anyone, Alice Price-Healy knows true love.

Over the course of the series, readers learn about what that love means for the fearless and supernaturally youthful grandmother of seven. Her devotion remains steady across decades, set against the backdrop of her family’s incredibly dangerous work as cryptozoologists fighting dragons, ghouls, basilisks, and so much more—all while Alice travels from dimension to dimension trying to find her missing husband, Thomas. 

For fifty years, Alice's life was incredibly simple: "Go: search: fail: heal: repeat." Could an end to that cycle be in the cards for her? After a lifetime of looking for her lost love, Alice finally has a reason for hope ... but when she finds Thomas, she learns that the truth of his exile is even stranger than she could have possibly imagined. Stranger still is the idea of going home again. When you’re used to defying otherworldly forces to save humanity, blowing up bats the size of dinosaurs, and having cake with ghosts, a regular Tuesday seems impossible. 

Backpacking Through Bedlam fills each page with action, beasts, and family reunions, but it also juggles the kickass, light-hearted tone of its main character with the heavy burden of expectation. In a story rife with the fantastic, McGuire asks a simple but important question: Can normal really be enough?

Featured photo: Ryan Nutick