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InCryptid #0.08

Loch and Key

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Daniel Healy has been dead for two years, and his parents are still in the process of healing both themselves and their relationship. When Alexander Healy suggests that it's finally time for his daughter-in-law to accompany them on their periodic fishing trip to White Otter Lake, it seems like the perfect opportunity for the four surviving members of the family to become reacquainted with one another. Fran is dubious at first, not really understanding what a fishing trip could do for them as a family.

That was before she knew about the monsters in White Otter Lake, of course. The monsters change everything.

Before long, the entire Healy clan is embroiled in a fight for the lives of the creatures that live in White Otter Lake, which may be the last of their kind in the world. If they want to save these majestic plesiosaurs, the family will need to find a way to come together in order to solve the mystery of what the guardian of White Otter Lake has disappeared to.

It's bullets versus brains as the Healys finally step up to do their jobs, and preserve the crytozoological world. No matter what it takes.

27 pages, ebook

First published August 12, 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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5 stars
191 (26%)
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316 (44%)
3 stars
190 (26%)
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12 (1%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 59 reviews
Profile Image for Ronda.
861 reviews141 followers
April 12, 2016
Another great short story. I really love Fran and Johnny now but I can't help feeling as though there is a calm before a storm.... The last time I felt like this they lost their little boy!
Profile Image for Robin (Bridge Four).
1,643 reviews1,512 followers
February 6, 2017
Whew! After the heartbreak of the last book it was good to be back in our monster hunting/protecting role.

It seems like things will never be the same since the death of their son but it was good to see Jonathan and Fran getting back into the grove of things and what better to help than an adventure involving creatures reminiscent of the Lock Ness Monster.

This was a fast paced short that let us know that 1) The family is still looking of who hired the assassin that killed Daniel 2)Fran and Jonathan's marriage has recovered but Fran probably still isn't ready to have children and 3) Nothing will put a little swing back into your step if you are a Healy then a good adventure.

The family that protects the monsters together stays together.
Profile Image for Sarah.
3,343 reviews1,015 followers
October 9, 2016

It's been two years since tragedy robbed Fran and Jonathan of their young son Daniel and the grief is still gripping them hard. Jonathan's parents are desperate to see the couple start to heal and hope that spending time as a family on their annual fishing trip will help them reconnect and feel ready to move forward with their lives.

The lake where they fish is home to a family of plesiosaurs and this is Jonathan's first chance to introduce Fran to the these beautiful water creatures (I think they might be distant relatives of the Loch Ness Monster!). Something strange is happening at White Otter Lake though, the creatures are usually protected by the Wilson family who own the land around the lake but Mr Wilson appears to be missing and the people claiming to be his niece and nephew-in-law are acting rather strangely. It's up to the Healy family to figure out what is going on and to protect the plesiosaurs from danger.

This story was much lighter in tone than the last one, the family are still deeply affected by the loss of Daniel but they are starting to work through their emotions and Fran and Jonathan are working out how to be a couple again. They are completely crazy about each other but there's a massive hole in their lives and it's hard to get past that and move forward. The change of scenery helps though and I loved seeing Fran and Jonathan reconnect with each other. Jonathan's parents, Alexander and Enid, offer a lot of support and encouragement to the couple and I just love the dynamics between the whole family. The story has more of the humour I expect from this series and it has plenty of action as the group work together to take down some monster hunters.
Profile Image for Maria Dimitrova.
745 reviews142 followers
February 4, 2017
After the heartbreak of the last story, this was just what I needed! Seeing that Jonathan and Frances' marriage has survived the tragedy of loosing a child, even if it's a bit banged up, gives me hope for the future of the Healys. I know that they get to have another child but I want for Alice to grow up loved and in a healthy family. Or as healthy as the Healys could be.

The lake monsters were adorable! I wish they were real and that I could go and pet one! How can someone want to harm these magnificent creatures is beyond me! Thankfully the Healy clan saves the day again and the not-dinosaurs can live happily in their lake.
Profile Image for ᴥ Irena ᴥ.
1,652 reviews216 followers
January 1, 2016
With that title you won't be surprised there is a lake and cryptids that live there.
The four Healys are camping and fishing to White Otter Lake. Soon they realize that the owner seem to be in some kind of trouble. Trouble that can mean life or death for the creatures in the lake.
Of course they interfere. It's what they do. A good story.
Profile Image for Marjolein (UrlPhantomhive).
2,389 reviews51 followers
November 21, 2016
Read all my reviews on http://urlphantomhive.booklikes.com

The Healy's find themselves on a fishing trip, but still trouble finds them, as they need to protect the creatures that live in the lake. This story contains more of the action you'll be used to at this point.

Unfortunately, the Aeslin mice have to stay at home, but it is for their own safety, as the woods are a dangerous place for some mice.
Profile Image for Sophie.
441 reviews161 followers
March 25, 2017
Woop woop, lake monsters!

I like this one because it's a proper story about the Healy family's duty to the cryptids they protect. Someone is hunting friendly Nessie-type creatures, and the whole family teams up to hunt the hunters, and it's very satisfying. Fran gets to live up to her mouse-given name of the Violent Priestess, Enid and Johnny break into a house, and Alexander shows off some combat skills of his own. Fun times. Also, Fran rides a lake monster.
Profile Image for Louisa.
7,174 reviews43 followers
June 24, 2017
Oh, yeah, this short was so sweet, and yeah, a bit sad given Daniel, but yeah, really great to read!
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 BrokenMnemonic.
268 reviews4 followers
November 18, 2015
Sadly, the Aeslin Mice didn't get to take part in this novel, but it was a hoot regardless. I'm probably a sucker for any story involving relict dinosaurs (on which point, Alexander would doubtless correct me) but it was nice to see all the elements of a Healy family holiday at play here; situational comedy, monsters, wonder and a certain amount of violence. Possibly my favourite scene involves someone frustrating a pair of would-be trophy hunters in an unusual manner in a scene oddly reminiscent of Titanic crossed with Jurassic Park...
Profile Image for Ivy.
1,482 reviews77 followers
May 30, 2015
Glad that Herbert and the plesiosaur's are okay. Glad to know more about Enid and the other Healy's. Hope to read more stories about Jonathan and Fran.
Profile Image for Liz (Quirky Cat).
4,331 reviews66 followers
August 2, 2021
Behold! I'm still binging all of Seanan McGuire's short stories, and it finally is starting to feel like I'm making a dent. Sort of. Next on the list, we have Loch and Key, which is number 0.08 in the InCryptid series. This story, along with many others, can be found through Seanan McGuire's Patreon.

Johnny and Fran have still not healed from the loss of their son. They never will fully heal. But they're trying to get there, and that's what matters. The elder Healys have decided it's finally time to introduce Fran to their summer vacation spot, a lake full of cryptids.

Guys, I loved this story. No, really! I loved it. I want more exactly like this, perhaps even with the same critters involved. They were a delight to read about. I loved their history, location, and even the current predicament. It was so fun to read.

Plus, it helps my heart to see Fran and Johnny slowly but surely healing. I think that the readers really needed that. I can't imagine having to wait months to see their next installment in the series, as that pain would have felt raw for so long. I'm glad I'm binging it now.

Read more reviews over at Quirky Cat's Fat Stacks
Profile Image for Skye.
1,395 reviews2 followers
August 25, 2020
First Fall was a kind of tragic and heart rending short story. It was great for the overall storyline of the series – but it was still something that made my heart very, very sore. Luckily, Loch and Key starts with a lot more hope. For starters, it begins a few years after the advents of First Fall, and there is a sense of moving on and healing that left me feeling really quite hopeful.

Every time I pick up an InCryptid short story (I’m getting my fix at the moment from these amazing short stories while I save some money for the books), I find something fun and intriguing and just a little bit funny. In the case of this short story. It is the fact that the “bad guys” in this tale are dinosaur poachers. It shouldn’t be that funny… but something about the idea of dinosaur poachers seriously hit my humour bone and had me smiling.

I needed the lightness from this story to counteract the last few InCryptid short stories. Now I’m ready to find out more horrible things that I’m sure are going to happen. But for now, this was a nice way to begin to move on from the shadow of Daniel’s death. It may still linger. But at least they are beginning to move forwards.
Profile Image for Angela.
3,199 reviews371 followers
December 28, 2016
This short is much lighter than the last short story which kind of tore my heart out.

So that's much appreciated. The pain and trauma is still there, for the Healys and for me, but I still found much to smile about here. Jonathan and Fran reconnecting and finding life with each other again and finding their life together on more solid ground.
Profile Image for Ronnie.
428 reviews4 followers
May 5, 2020
One thing I really like about the InCryptid stories is the theme of how humans are really the monsters, and this was a good story for that.
Profile Image for Kathy Davie.
4,712 reviews708 followers
July 27, 2015
It's a free short story from Seanan McGuire, 0.08 in the InCryptid urban fantasy series, and revolving around a family of renegade "monster hunters" who go camping.

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
It's a crack up to read of the Healys' preparations for camping. Well, the male Healys. The females have it all together, and women will be laughing under their breaths at these hapless men.

Alexander and Enid are praying that this trip will help the healing process for their son and daughter-in-law.

"'Care to help me vex some rustlers, dear?'

Fran smiled brightly. 'And here I thought you forgot my birthday.'"

That description of Fran perched on the tackle box and serenely sliding across the truck bed as the vehicle twisted and turned along the roads cracked me up and sets the mood for this camping trip.

It makes a sharp contrast with the welcome they receive from Uncle Herbert's relatives!
Monsters were often the better men, after all.

The Story
When Alexander Healy suggests that it's finally time for his daughter-in-law to accompany them on their periodic fishing trip to White Otter Lake, it seems like the perfect opportunity for the four surviving members of the family to become reacquainted with one another. Fran is dubious at first, not really understanding what a fishing trip could do for them as a family.

That was before she knew about the monsters in White Otter Lake, of course. The monsters change everything.

Before long, the entire Healy clan is embroiled in a fight for the lives of the creatures that live in White Otter Lake, which may be the last of their kind in the world. If they want to save these majestic plesiosaurs, the family will need to find a way to come together in order to solve the mystery of what the guardian of White Otter Lake has disappeared to.

It's bullets versus brains as the Healys finally step up to do their jobs, and preserve the crytozoological world. No matter what it takes.

The Characters
Alexander and Enid Healy are the parents while Jonathan (he easily slips into lecture mode) and Fran (she's quick to pull knives from everywhere and nowhere) are son and daughter-in-law. Yes, the four of them live together in the Healy house on the very outskirts of Buckley Township in Michigan.

Bessie is a Dolichorhynchops mishigamaa, a.k.a., a Michigan lake monster, and one of the Healy family friends. Goliath is another.

The Wilsons own the lake and the land around it. They've also known about the monsters in the lake forever and feel that the creatures are theirs to care for, although it's only Herbert left these days. Abigail died last fall. Eloise and Paul have come out to help "care" for Uncle Herbert.

Arturo Gucciard is a friend Jonathan and Fran made in Chicago while they were on their honeymoon in "Sweet Poison Wine".

The Cover and Title
It's a soft golden cover with mist rising up off the lake, deeper golden trees on the far shore as a "Nessie" sways over the water.

The title is a combination of an answer while at the lake, the "Loch and Key" to bringing a measure of happiness back into the Healy family.
Profile Image for Sandy.
963 reviews8 followers
March 1, 2017
Another fun one. It's been nine years since Fran joined the Healys. I love Fran. She is the best.
Profile Image for Jessica ❁ ➳ Silverbow ➳ ❁ .
1,261 reviews8,752 followers
September 20, 2017
Reviewed by: Rabid Reads

0.08 - Loch and Key

3.5 stars

Two years have passed since the events of THE FIRST FALL, and the Healys are finally moving past their collective sadness. Recognizing this, Alexander and Enid decide to take all four of them on a family fishing trip, where more than fish wait in the waters.

Unfortunately, the man who acts as caretaker for the lake creatures is beset by greedy relatives looking to turn said creatures into a payday.

Can't have that, can we? *orbit gum smile*

Jessica Signature
Profile Image for Jenevieve.
937 reviews13 followers
January 31, 2014
Check out all my reviews at My Blog

A prequel to the Incryptid series following Jonathan and Frances Healy. Jonathan and Frances are healing after the death of their son, Daniel, and Enid and Alex are taking them on a family fishing trip. Being the Healys, they aren't going to any typical spot but a backwoods lake where a small group of plesiosours still survive. However, when they go to pay their respects to the owners of the land, they find that things aren't quite right and the Incryptids are in danger and well, that just won't be tolerated.

I really love these short stories that we get as insights to the dedication of this family to the Incryptids as well as each other and I'm very thankful to Seanan for doing them.
Profile Image for Maggie Gordon.
1,896 reviews138 followers
September 13, 2016
Originally read: May 31, 2014

Two years after Daniel died, things might be starting to get better at the Healy house. The family takes a fishing trip to their favourite lake and surprises Frannie with not-quote-dinosaurs! But there's something fishy going on at the house of the people who own the land that these creatures live on, and the Healy family works together to protect the denizens of the lake. It's nice to see all four of the Healys working together for once, and to know that Frannie and Johnny are healing. Though not the most exciting or emotionally significant story, Loch and Key is a fun, quick read.
Profile Image for Indigo.
162 reviews29 followers
August 14, 2013
After the events of The First Fall, I braced myself for this one. I needn't have worried. Seanan McGuire deftly wove a charming family story, threaded it with danger, colored it with friendly pleiosaurs, and fringed it with the emotional depth that characterizes all her stories.

Alex and Enid, older, are still madly in love, and it is conveyed through the simple and gentle gestures.

Jon is still stiff and stodgy except around Fran who is still a firebrand.

And the fierce love they have for each other and what matters to them is the heart of the story.
Profile Image for Kate K. F..
742 reviews17 followers
August 28, 2013
I love that Seanan McGuire is writing these short stories to fill out some of the history of the Healy family from her Incryptid books. In this one Fran and Jonathan accompany his parents on a fishing trip that gets more complicated when they discover someone trying to use some cryptids for their own means. What I found made this story so compelling was the discussion of how the Healys choices towards the cryptids are viewed by others.

I would recommend this to anyone who reads the Incryptid books and if you haven't read the other short stories, you're in for a treat.
Profile Image for Tria.
636 reviews74 followers
September 29, 2013
This very short story feels like the start of the Healy healing (ha!) that it promises. It also feels like something that could well have been extended into a longer novella, but it doesn't suffer any too much for the length; the amusement, emotion, mystery and activism predominant in the InCryptid series are beautifully and visibly part of "Loch and Key", though I can imagine the title pronunciation might elude those less familiar with Nessie in spite of the homonymous pun of the phrase. Still, it's a great read for such a little piece.
Profile Image for K.F..
590 reviews6 followers
February 7, 2017
Solid, yet again. Everybody loves s good Loch Ness monster story!
Profile Image for Erin (PT).
566 reviews93 followers
September 24, 2013
Like Sweet Poison Wine, this is one of my favorites of the Incryptid shorts, mainly because it's an actual story, rather than a vignette, allowing you to better slip beneath the surface of the world. And, though you DO know that Jonathan and Fran go on after , it's still more viscerally reassuring/satisfying to actually see it. A thoroughly enjoyable short.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 59 reviews

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