As a whole, I really love Seanan McGuire’s work, though I have favorites among them. Yet I can never seem to explain what, precisely, I like about it. It’s not any one element that I can really say, study this about it. If anything, there are elements I normally don’t like about it; aspects that seem like they could turn hokey, and there’s enough humor to kill a clown with. Yet I couldn’t put this one down, even when it was well past my bedtime. I blame the Aeslin mice. They fit so well with what I’ve observed of Seanan’s sense of humor, both from her writing and her social media, and they really just perk up the story. Add in creatures beyond your standard mythology, all with lovely twists that make sense, and real life responsibilities and desires, and it makes for a fast paced ride.
Also, normally the “Enemies turning to lovers” schtick drives me bonkers; It’s so overdone. She pulls it off believably, because even at the end, there’s still that tension where you don’t know if they want to kiss or kill each other, even once they’ve developed some mutual respect. It works, because the characters are believably developed. Everyone, even the bad guys, seems to have something to gain, and something to lose, and real, solid reasons for why they’re acting the way they are. It’s something I don’t get nearly enough of, especially in urban fantasy.
On the writing side: Watch how she builds relationships. Those seem to end up the cornerstone of her series (though I’ll confess, I’m too much of a chicken to read her zombie books under Mira Grant! I tried, and got freaked out half a chapter in, so I can’t swear that holds true there).
There are data… not dumps, precisely, but spots where the story definitely pauses to explain things. This is something we’re always told to not do, but for this story, it works. When you read it, see if you can figure out how she manages it. It’s making even the data clumps interesting and entertaining. For example, there’s one explaining sexual dimorphism. I have a background in biology, it was my major for 4 out of the 4 1/2 years of my undergrad work. So for me, I could have easily skipped that page or two worth of explanation. Yet I found it interesting, because all the examples and derivations were so solidly of the world of the story.