“October “Toby” Daye, a changeling who is half human and half fae, has been an outsider from birth. After getting burned by both sides of her heritage, Toby has denied the Faerie world, retreating to a “normal” life. Unfortunately for her, the Faerie world has other ideas…
The murder of Countess Evening Winterrose pulls Toby back into the fae world. Unable to resist Evening’s dying curse, which binds her to investigate, Toby must resume her former position as knight errant and renew old alliances. As she steps back into fae society, dealing with a cast of characters not entirely good or evil, she realizes that more than her own life will be forfeited if she cannot find Evening’s killer.”
Keenly aware of Seanan McGuire’s October Daye series since the release of Rosemary and Rue, it was one that I, for whatever muddled reason that arose at the time, let pass me by. Oh, sure: every now and then I’d see a copy on the book store’s shelf and think Hmm. But it wasn’t until I read Janicu’s review of Late Eclipses – and the gentle nudge she gave me in the comments – that I stopped Hmming and got on the ball. I proceeded with caution, checking to make sure my library had the first three books; they did. I then plucked each one off the shelf to take home. As I tweeted the other day, sometimes my smarts show up in spades. Because there was no stopping after Rosemary and Rue; I was entrenched in October’s world, for good or ill, and itching to get back to it.
For the life of me I couldn’t put a finger on one thing that makes this series work so well. That would be because it’s not just one thing; it’s everything. All of the threads weave together to produce a taut plot propelled by fascinating characters and a compelling world that stands on a solidly built foundation. I’m serious and earnest when I say that this book, it’s good stuff.
October is…well, sit down. This may take a while. October was my kind of urban fantasy heroine for several reasons. She’s competent and willing and brave; when she rushed in she wasn’t stupid. Ever aware of her personal limitations, she delivered this line in the midst of a potentially dangerous situation: “There’s pushing the bounds of credibility, and then there’s just getting silly.” I heartily appreciate when characters are aware of what they can and cannot do, and weigh the consequences of their actions. October did just that, before and after, yes, but even during. Which is why, on those occasions when she stretched those bounds of credibility some, I was okay with it. If I were given to being more concise from the get-go, I could have simply said ‘October is self-aware’, but UF heroines I like and sort of admire have been bumped to the critically endangered category, hence the clumsy elaboration. In an effort to keep things moving along, I also appreciated: her determination, how she copes with what life handed her, her sensitivity to the world – both Fae and human – and how it moves around her. I would follow October wherever she led, which is what I plan to do.
Further, every single side character got to me in some way. No kidding: every one. There were a few, of course, that thoroughly wrapped me around their respective fingers. Tybalt, for instance. Dogs are my joy, but that is one King of Cats that I would make an exception for. And that’s all I’m going to say, for now.
As far as the world-building goes, it’s all encompassing. McGuire takes you pretty deep into the Fae world, wrapping the story up in layers and folds and shadows. The people (creatures? otherworldlies? because they’re not all faeries) are dangerous; many have fangs or claws or worse, and they’re not opposed to wielding them with lethal intent. There is grit ground in with the gilt; nightmares mingling with dreams. It’s a shifting world in which the balance of power is never assured; in which allies can turn to enemies – and vice versa – in a blink. And for all that, I’ve no doubt there’s so much more that will come to light in future books.
The best recommendation for this series that I can think of, however, is to impart how quickly I moved on to the second book. No sooner had I put the first one down, finished, done, that I moved on to the second book, A Local Habitation. (I may have picked the first one back up a few times – just to read a couple of my favorite scenes/lines over again.) And I suspect the same thing will happen with books three and four. A taste of October’s world wasn’t enough; I wanted more. I hope, if you start this series, you will too.