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InCryptid #0.06

Sweet Poison Wine

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Jonathan and Frances Healy are beginning their new lives together with that most traditional of celebrations: the honeymoon. Leaving their infant son with Jonathan's parents, the Healys are leaving Buckley Township, Michigan for the cosmopolitan wonders of the city of Chicago, where they can properly celebrate the fact that they managed to have a wedding without anybody winding up dead.

Of course, these are the Healys we're talking about, and nothing in Chicago is exactly fitting the description provided by the Bureau of Tourism. From the gorgon-run hotel where they'll be staying to the swamp hags in the Chicago River, things are definitely business as usual, at least by the family definition of "usual."

Bootlegger Arturo Gucciard has only just been introduced to the Healy definition of "usual," but he's going to need to get awfully familiar with it if he wants to live long enough to have a honeymoon of his own. And Jonathan, well. Jonathan just wants to have a normal honeymoon.

Good luck with that.

35 pages, ebook

First published April 9, 2013

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About the author

Seanan McGuire

469 books15.5k followers
Hi! I'm Seanan McGuire, author of the Toby Daye series (Rosemary and Rue, A Local Habitation, An Artificial Night, Late Eclipses), as well as a lot of other things. I'm also Mira Grant (www.miragrant.com), author of Feed and Deadline.

Born and raised in Northern California, I fear weather and am remarkably laid-back about rattlesnakes. I watch too many horror movies, read too many comic books, and share my house with two monsters in feline form, Lilly and Alice (Siamese and Maine Coon).

I do not check this inbox. Please don't send me messages through Goodreads; they won't be answered. I don't want to have to delete this account. :(

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 65 reviews
Profile Image for Sarah.
3,343 reviews1,015 followers
October 5, 2016
It's been two months since Jonathan and Fran got married but thanks to the arrival of their son Daniel the couple never got a chance to take their honeymoon. Reluctant as they are to leave their son so soon they know he'll be safe with his grandparents they're also ready for a break so they set off to Chicago to spend some quality time together.

They actually managed to sneak off without any of the Aeslin mice so they're guaranteed privacy for the first time in their relationship but they have a knack for finding trouble anyway so it's not long before they're roped in to investigate the theft of a case of rather dangerous wine for the local gorgons.

I'm really enjoying these Fran and Jonathan short stories, it's nice to get some background into the Incryptid world and I love the huge variety of creatures that can be found. You can never be sure what Seanan McGuire will throw at you next and I'm looking forward to lots more adventures with this couple.
Profile Image for Molly.
342 reviews126 followers
September 12, 2015

Honeymoon, Chicago, river hags, gorgons, bootleggers and wine, Sweet Poison Wine...

Rating, 3.5

Another fun short from the InCryptid series.
Jonathan and Frances Healy, finally get to enjoy some time together, sans baby and Johnny's parents. Destination of their honeymoon, Chicago. They'll manage to get themselves in trouble, just hours after stepping on the streets of the "Windy City".
Profile Image for Robin (Bridge Four).
1,643 reviews1,512 followers
January 15, 2017
This is the last happy short story for a little while before SM gets into some of the Darker days of the Healy/Price family.

Fran and Johnny finally get a honeymoon since she was about 9 months pregnant when they got married. But like most times that they try to take a little vacation from their lives something adventurous and deadly comes there way and this time it is some stolen Gorgon wine that is poisonous to humans.

Fran is delightful I love how full of life she is and that she welcomes any dangerous adventure that comes their way. My favorite part was this...
“She’s not going anywhere until you explain yourself!” snarled Arturo, grabbing Fran by the arm as she started to step forward. He froze half a heartbeat later, going pale as he realized what he had just done. As for Fran, she looked curiously down at the fingers that were wrapped around herbicep.
“How many of those did you want to keep?” she asked. “In the range of zero to two, I mean. Anything more than that would be greedy.”

Do not mess with Fran, she will hurt you.

Other than that this had a facinating Gorgon run Incryptid hotel and a curious bootlegger in the mix as well. It was a fun ride.

Profile Image for Angela.
3,199 reviews371 followers
December 28, 2016
What a fun little short! Now that Fran and Jonathan are married, with their first little baby born and under the care of his grandparents, the newlyweds can finally take their honeymoon.

And it it turns out to be a mite more adventurous than relaxing...well that's just the way Fran likes it.

By the time she made it around the bed, he was already scrambling down the rocky bank toward the water, where three hunched-over shapes were in the process of dragging what looked like a hog-tied man toward the water.

"Best honeymoon ever," she said, and charged down the bank after him.

I absolutely adore Fran, and Jonathan. They're both such great characters. I like how Fran is so outspoken and blunt, and how Jonathan seems quiet and contained, but he's got this wonderful dry, sarcastic sense of humor.

Another fun story!
Profile Image for Ronda.
861 reviews141 followers
April 12, 2016
I'm really enjoying getting to know Fran and Johnny, they are such a devilish couple... Although I've a feeling these short stories are setting a future up that I'm completely unaware of!
Profile Image for Marjolein (UrlPhantomhive).
2,389 reviews51 followers
November 20, 2016
Read all my reviews on http://urlphantomhive.booklikes.com

Sweet Poison Wine is another fun short story. Jonathan and Fran are going on honeymoon to Chicago and they wouldn't be them if they don't run into trouble fast. It was more action packed than the last few stories, which was nice. Unfortunately, they leave the mice at home, so that was a slight disappointment. Some connections are made that will come in handy at a later time.

Overall, a nice, quick and short read.

(You can find this short story, and the others I'm reviewing, on the author's website. Free!)
Profile Image for Ivy.
1,482 reviews77 followers
May 28, 2015
Enjoyed Jonathan and Fran's honeymoon story. Chicago sounds like a nice place. Would love to see what it would be like to stay at the Carmichael Hotel. Hope to read more of Jonathan and Fran's adventures.
Profile Image for ᴥ Irena ᴥ.
1,652 reviews216 followers
January 1, 2016

After a somewhat slow and unremarkable beginning, the story gets better and what I come to expect from these InCryptid shorts.

Jonathan and Fran are in Chicago on their honeymoon. It wouldn't be a Healy honeymoon if it were just site-seeing now, would it? As usual they get entangled in other people/monsters' problems. Once they realize what is going on, the story gets better. The unexpected solution was great. Monsters have to eat, after all.
Apart from the slow beginning and unsuitable words in a historical setting ('Fran’s attention returned, laser-like..'), this was an enjoyable and fun story.

I have a couple of more of these short prequels. Then I can get to the first book. Unless I am warned by reviews that I shouldn't read prequels because they contain spoilers for the future books or they might be confusing without any previous knowledge, I read them in chronological order.
Profile Image for Louisa.
7,174 reviews43 followers
June 24, 2017
Great short story with their honeymoon, and learning more about gorgons and their culture, and meeting the ancestor from the guy in Midnight Blue-Light Special! Can't wait to read more!
Profile Image for Nichole.
836 reviews19 followers
January 12, 2018
jonathan and Fran are finally off on their honeymoon. Even on a honeymoon, monster hunters don't get a break. I love these shorts, always a new monster to read about.
Profile Image for Sophie.
441 reviews161 followers
March 24, 2017
Since Frances was super pregnant when she got married to Jonathan, they didn't really get to have a proper, baby-free honeymoon. So they leave the kid with the grandparents and head to a gorgon-owned hotel in Chicago, where they have a prohibition-era adventure.

I think my favorite part of this one might be Fran asking Jonathan why gorgons have titties.
Profile Image for L.
890 reviews31 followers
June 16, 2021
Jonathan and Fran Healy

To begin, let me lay out what I will be reviewing here. Seanan McGuire's website has a page entitled Incryptid Short Stories. About two dozen stories are listed here. These stories are also listed as books in the Goodreads Incryptid Series page. Neither of these lists is complete: McGuire has also published many stories on her Patreon site. They can be found in the Bibliography page on her site. I don't know if the Bibliography is complete with respect to Patreon stories.

Most of the stories on the Short Stories page are available for free download there. Some of them, however, were published in anthologies, and to get these you need to buy or borrow the book. For access to the Patreon stories you need to sign up as a supporter at Patreon. The minimum charge is $1.50. That's a recurring charge, but you only need to sign up once for access to all currently available stories. The Short Stories page is organized by the primary characters and time period. Here I will be reviewing the stories listed under the heading Jonathan Healy and Frances Brown (1928-1945). These are:

The Flower of Arizona (published in Westward Weird)
One Hell of a Ride (free download)
No Place Like Home (free download)
Stingers and Strangers (published in Dead Man's Hand: An Anthology of the Weird West)
Married in Green (free download)
Sweet Poison Wine (free download)
The First Fall (free download)
Loch and Key (free download)
We Both Go Down Together (free download)
Oh Pretty Bird (free download)
Bury Me In Satin (free download)
Broken Paper Hearts (free download)
The Star of New Mexico (free download)

As you can see, there's a lot of material here. Even though it is formatted as stories, the stories in totality (in the order listed) are pretty much a novel about Jonathan and Fran. Of the two anthologized stories, which you would have to buy or borrow, the first, The Flower of Arizona, is entirely dispensible. You will read most of it in the other stories. Stingers and Strangers, in contrast, is a substantial story and important both to the continuity of the Jonathan and Fran stories and to the Incryptid series as a whole. What's more, the anthology Dead Man's Hand: An Anthology of the Weird West is pretty good, with a star-studded list of science fiction authors. So, if you're going to buy or borrow something, I would recommend it.

Well, how are the stories? They're excellent, of course. If you really want the backstory on the Healy/Price family, this is the place to look. Although the stories focus on Jonathan and Fran (more Fran than Jonathan), Jonathan's parents Alexander and Enid Healy are important characters as well, and you will pick up several hints about their backstories. Fran doesn't have a regular family, but the members of the circus/carnival where she performed before Jonathan swept her away are also important characters.

Of the main Incryptid novels, I have only read Discount Armageddon, and I was a bit surprised by the Jonathan and Fran stories. They are not as light-hearted as Discount Armageddon. Although McGuire's trademark humor and irreverence permeate the stories, they are more somber than I expected. In fact, there is tragedy, especially in the so-short-it-is-barely-there Broken Paper Hearts. I was also surprised at how important the Aeslin Mice were. In Discount Armageddon they are mostly just comic relief -- delightful, but not terribly necessary to the plot. In the Jonathan and Fran stories I can think of at least three occasions where they play crucial roles in the plot. The most important occurs when Alice, The Exceptionally Noisy Priestess, is born.

So, yeah, if you're into the Incryptid books, you should definitely read these stories.
Profile Image for Sunil.
947 reviews120 followers
April 10, 2013
Jonathan and Frances Healy are rapidly turning into the Nick and Nora of monster hunters. While honeymooning in Chicago, they encounter gorgons and river hags, neither of which they try to kill. It's always humans causing problems and killing people, isn't it? Jonathan and Fran do solve a seedy mystery, but the real mystery is where does Fran hide her throwing knives?
Profile Image for Darcy.
12.7k reviews447 followers
March 20, 2016
This was the prefect honeymoon for a couple like this, one filled with love, action and monsters.
Profile Image for Skye.
1,395 reviews2 followers
August 15, 2020
This is the longest Fran and Johnathan short story yet. Which, of course, pulled me in fairly quickly – I wanted to know what was going to happen after their wedding that would take longer than everything before. And I really wasn’t disappointed. This is exactly the kind of honeymoon that I would have imagined for these two. A perfect, fun and kind of quirky journey.

I love that this story features wine… of the supernatural variety. Each cryptid in this series has its own culture and needs (much like humans) and McGuire’s talent at seamlessly integrating this into her works is not only fun, but incredibly potent and powerful. Particularly when you think about the fact that part of culture is also food and wine. And in the case of this short story, it’s the wine that is an integral aspect of Gorgon culture.

One of the things I think I love the most about Fran is that she just gets bored seriously easy. Luckily for me, I mostly find my entertainment in books, rather than in fights. But there is still that same sense of adventure and need to try something new that I find completely relatable. The fact that in this case it leads to an adventure that delivers wine and justice… she’s definitely my kind of lady.
Profile Image for Liz (Quirky Cat).
4,331 reviews66 followers
August 2, 2021
Next up for Short Story Saturday, we have Sweet Poison Wine, written by Seanan McGuire. This would be number 0.06 in her InCryptid series as we continue to follow Johnny and Fran's adventures.

This time around, the duo have set off to deal to finally have their honeymoon. Naturally, that means they're about to find themselves in the middle of a mess – it's a talent. On the bright side, that means more entertainment for us readers!

I think this is one of my favorite short stories from this series – so far. I know I have a long way to go, so I shouldn't be talking so soon. Yet I really enjoyed this little adventure. Not only did we get to see more of how this couple works, but we got to see more of the world and more of the creatures that live in it—all while having the right balance of tension and humor. In other words, it was pretty perfect.

Read more reviews over at Quirky Cat's Fat Stacks
Profile Image for Maria Dimitrova.
745 reviews142 followers
February 7, 2017
Gorgons and river hags and strange gorgon customs like Weird, right? As if I could expect a nice normal honeymoon for a couple of Healys! Silly me! I missed the mice of course but the rest of the cryptids made it up for the lack of talking rodents. And that last scene was deliciously bloody! Karma's a bitch, right Mr. Russo?
Profile Image for Kathleen.
1,818 reviews33 followers
March 26, 2017
The past is another country, in this case it's a little bit bloodier and a little more lawless than the Incryptid books set in the present. Fran and Jonathan go on their honeymoon, encounter bootleggers, river hags, and gorgons. Meals are eaten.

These short stories are a lot of fun and totally worth the minor inconvenience of reading on a computer, particularly when you remember that they're free. I highly recommend clicking the link in the goodreads record if you are so inclined.
Profile Image for Nerdy Werewolf.
616 reviews33 followers
May 18, 2018
"Don't be silly, Fran, vampires don't exist."
"Says the man who had to search his luggage for talking mice."

Oh, I liked this one. A nice little mystery during Jonathan and Fran's honeymoon in Chicago. Someone has stolen the gorgons' (yep, folks with snakes for hair) special, which is to say poison, wine. It's up to the newly married Healys to put everything right.
Profile Image for Ronnie.
428 reviews4 followers
May 5, 2020
I really do enjoy learning about the cultures of the Cryptids, and this is a fantastic story that shows the intricate etiquette of gorgon dinners. Lots of action, lots of world building. I very much enjoyed it.
Profile Image for Stephen Topp.
361 reviews6 followers
April 3, 2019
Since I'm enjoying reading the InCryptid novels, but can't get them on Kindle in the UK, and am traveling ... short stories!

This one is kinda meh.
Profile Image for Kathy Davie.
4,712 reviews708 followers
July 26, 2015
It's a free short story from Seanan McGuire, 0.06 in the InCryptid urban fantasy series, and revolving around a family of renegade "monster hunters". The couple focus is on the wedding between Jonathan Healy and Frances Brown. It's 1932, four years since Fran and Jonathan arrived in Buckley Township.

If you're interested, there is a chronological listing of the InCryptid books on my website of the live-and-let-live Healys who have seen the error of their ways when it comes to huntin' down monsters.

My Take
Oh lord, I love how it starts with the Aeslin mice watching over Jonathan and Fran's baby boy.

"'Why did I marry you again?'

'To be honest, Fran, I have no idea. But I am thankful every single day that you did.'"

It's too, too accurate a picture of life in the Healy family as supernatural issues follow the young Healy couple to Chicago, and Fran reckons Jonathan arranged this particular adventure to keep her from being bored, lol.

"'Aren't you supposed to be showin' me Chicago right about now?'

'Yes. This hotel room is in Chicago. If you look outside the window, you will see even more Chicago. I have thus shown you Chicago. Now come back to bed.'"

Justice is served at the end, albeit a bit messily. It's Jonathan's reasoning that makes the conclusion a pip.

The Story
It's a nervous Fran unsure about leaving her baby boy as she and Jonathan head off on their honeymoon to Chicago.

Fortunately neither of them will be bored — in bed or out — as they help out old friends and make new ones.

The Characters
Jonathan and Fran Healy have been married for two months, and they're off on their honeymoon. Daniel is their two-month-old baby.

Alexander (he's a librarian) and Enid are Jonathan's parents. Jonathan's grandmother, Caroline, was known as the Well-Groomed Priestess. She's the reason the mice have so many opinions on shampoo.

The Carmichael is…
…a hotel run by Hector and Lanya Kalakos, gorgons, which is hidden by a grimy, off-putting exterior. Asta and Chruse are the daughters of the house, er, the hotel. Medusa is a very particular vintage of wine drunk only by gorgons; it's fatal to humans. Yeah, Medusa is also the patron saint of gorgons.

Arturo Gucciard is a bootlegger who got on the wrong side of someone. Big Tommy was one of his men. Francesco Russo is a rival bootlegger.

The Cover and Title
The background looks like really old, possibly rotting wallpaper. It's all lit up making it a perfect foil for the grave vine and leaves wrapping themselves around the dark green wine bottle front and right.

The title is what all the brou-ha-ha is about, a "Sweet Poison Wine" that has repercussions on bootleggers and culture alike.
Profile Image for Alice.
845 reviews48 followers
May 29, 2015
This is another InCryptid prequel tale, the fifth in Frances (Brown) and Jonathan Healy's interesting life together. As with three of the previous stories, this is available for download free on the the author's website.

In this installment, Fran and Jonathan are happily married, and spending their honeymoon in Chicago. Because this is a world steeped in cryptid worldbuilding, though, leaving Jonathan's hometown doesn't mean there are no cryptids. The mice only put in a short appearance, but they're there in spirit. Jonathan and Fran's hotel is run by lesser gorgons, and they rescue a man from hungry freshwater sea hags. They're drawn into moonshine and liquor smuggling circles, and, as with all good trials, grow closer and learn things about one another.

As with previous installments, I felt like I was missing out on something, not having read "Flower of Arizona" in Westward Weird, which I plan to remedy as soon as my TBR pile will let me. But the entire story is there, and this is the most dynamic and interesting of the installments. It had the most opportunities for banter, and I felt like this best highlighted the relationship between the newlywed Healys.

One needn't have read the previous InCryptid books for this to make sense. It may save you the heartbreak, actually, of knowing their eventual fate. These stories are a lovely way to remember these characters.

Seanan McGuire has written on her blog that she'll write more InCryptid short stories, which is delightful news. I so enjoy these glimpses into the Price/Healy family past.
Profile Image for Indigo.
162 reviews29 followers
April 15, 2013
Another tale of the 20th century members of the Healy family.

Frannie and Johnny, happily married now, with a new baby, have been rather firmly encouraged to go on their honeymoon.
It's a new experience for Fran, whose upbringing was with a circus. And they behave as one would expect newlyweds to behave.

All is sweet charming romance, even after they check into their cryptid run hotel; until they run across a cryptid version of a gangland murder.

Fran and Jon save the would be victim, only to have him decline their further assistance. Until he realizes how much he needs it.

I could've done with a little more about the host family, but the story was a quick and jaunty read, comfortably holding its place in the period setting.

I hope there are more Frannie and Johnny stories... Oh. Fair warning: the Aeslin mice only show up for the first page.
Profile Image for Anita.
2,334 reviews163 followers
April 23, 2013
I read 4 free short story InCryptid prequels in a row: One Hell of a Ride, No Place Like Home, Married in Green, and Sweet Poison Wine. All tell the story of the courtship of Jonathan Healy and Frances Brown, Verity Price's great-grandparents (prohibition era). Try to read them in order. You can download all of them for Kindle or other formats for FREE on the author's website. Then go and buy the 2 InCryptid novels - they are VERY good urban fantasy without being overly violent. There's a bit of romance and mystery, too.

This is the story of Jonathan and Fran's honeymoon in Chicago, where they unravel a mystery about some stolen wine, which happens to be poisonous to anyone but gorgons. Includes a lot of scenes with gorgons.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 65 reviews

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