Review: Spelunking Through Hell by Seanan McGuire

Series: InCryptid #11
Author: Seanan McGuire
Publisher: DAW
Released: March 1, 2022
Received: NetGalley
Warnings: Torture, body horror

You know how sometimes you don’t realize how much you needed something until it was sitting right in your lap? That is what happened to me with Spelunking Through Hell. I never realized how badly I needed to read a novel from Alice Price’s perspective, but thankfully that’s no longer a concern.

Spelunking Through Hell is the eleventh novel in Seanan McGuire’s InCryptid series. It’s also the first story from Alice Price/Healy’s point of view. Given the pattern of the series so far, it seems unlikely that it’ll be the last. Oh! It also contains another classic InCryptid novella, And Sweep Up the Wood. More on that in a moment.

Alice knows what pain feels like. She lost her mother at a young age and her father years later – not that he was ever the same after his wife’s death. Yet she fell in love with a man named Thomas Price – a Covenant man.

It’s been fifty years since that very man disappeared into another dimension. Fifty years of searching – as Alice is never one to give up. She’s sacrificed so much to get to this point, and yet it feels like she’s closer than ever after finding one critical piece of information. Will Alice and Thomas finally be reunited?

Seanan McGuire has done it again. Spelunking Through Hell is another fantastic addition to the InCryptid series. Seriously, fans of this series need to make a point of picking it up and reading it ASAP.

I’ll be honest with you here: I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from Alice’s POV, thus Spelunking Through Hell. Previously, all I’ve ever seen of Alice has been through the perspective of her grandchildren, so it’s been a bit of a mixed bag.

Now? Now I have a solid idea of Alice’s character and how much determination that woman carries within it. More than that, I know how much pain she has gone through to find the one she loves most. It’s pretty endearing, not that I would ever say that to her face.

Getting a chance to see more dimensional travel within the InCryptid world was a delight, if I may say so. There’s so much to learn and explore here. I thought I already knew that, but as it turns out, the previous books barely scraped the surface. I cannot wait to see more (I’m assuming/hoping that Alice will be the primary perspective for the next novel).

To say that there’s a lot in this book would be a serious understatement. Alice on her own would be a lot. Throwing in magical tattoos, dimensional travel, the endless quest to find her husband, and several other curveballs? Well, that makes the perfect recipe for another InCryptid novel, doesn’t it?

One of the many things I loved about Spelunking Through Hell is the dominant theme throughout the pages. Trust. Secondary to that is the ever-present debate over how much time can (or can’t) change a person.

Once again, I find myself thrilled with the latest novel from Seanan McGuire. Likewise, I’m already counting down the days to the next release, as they always prove to be enchanting. Stay tuned below for a review of the novella included alongside Spelunking Through Hell: And Sweep Up the Wood.

And Sweep Up the Wood

I’ve concluded that all of the Price/Healy short stories/novellas will hurt my heart in some way, shape, or form. At least part of that pain stems from the fact that many of the novellas have been set in the past – meaning that I know what will ultimately happen to those characters.

And Sweep Up the Wood is set long before the events of Spelunking Through Hell – by fifty-plus years. It’s set before Alice needs to take up her lifelong quest, but after the man she falls in love with has come into her life.

As such, one would think this story would be predictable since we know what happened before, and we know what follows. One would be wrong. This story is arguably one of the most emotionally compelling novellas I’ve read from the InCryptid-verse in quite some time – and that is saying something. It’s a melancholy tale, one that resonated with me. I won’t say why it did so, as that would open the door for spoilers. But it hit close to home on several occasions.

On a happier note, the Aeslin mice are back! Their presence was understandably minimal during Spelunking Through Hell (though I’m sure they would have loved the opportunity to see and carry those stories), but they were also very much missed. Here is a bit of a chance to see more of them, which I appreciated. As always, they are my favorites. That is all I will say on that matter.

Thanks to DAW and #NetGalley for making this book available for review. All opinions expressed are my own.


About Liz (AKA Cat)

I am an avid animal lover, photographer, reader, and much more. While my photography blog is feeling a bit neglected at the moment, the other sites I'm involved in are going strong. ✧I review books, comics, and basically anything else in the literary world over at Quirky Cat's Fat Stacks (of Books). ✧I review comics and books, as well as write content for Word of the Nerd. ✧I review comics for Monkeys Fighting Robots. ✧I write content for Screen Rant and CBR. ✧I write book reviews for The Review Crew.
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