by Seanan McGuire
Series: October Daye #12
Also in this series: The Brightest Fell, A Killing Frost
Publisher: Daw Books
Publication Date: September 4, 2018
I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.My rating:
The twelfth installment of the Hugo-nominated, New York Times-bestselling Toby Daye urban fantasy series!
Things are not okay.
In the aftermath of Amandine's latest betrayal, October "Toby" Daye's fragile self-made family is on the verge of coming apart at the seams. Jazz can't sleep, Sylvester doesn't want to see her, and worst of all, Tybalt has withdrawn from her entirely, retreating into the Court of Cats as he tries to recover from his abduction. Toby is floundering, unable to help the people she loves most heal. She needs a distraction. She needs a quest.
What she doesn't need is the abduction of her estranged human daughter, Gillian. What she doesn't need is to be accused of kidnapping her own child by her ex-boyfriend and his new wife, who seems to be harboring secrets of her own. There's no question of whether she'll take the case. The only question is whether she's emotionally prepared to survive it.
Signs of Faerie's involvement are everywhere, and it's going to take all Toby's nerve and all her allies to get her through this web of old secrets, older hatreds, and new deceits. If she can't find Gillian before time runs out, her own child will pay the price. One question remains:
Who in Faerie remembered Gillian existed? And what do they stand to gain? No matter how this ends, Toby's life will never be the same.
I’ve been following October Daye’s adventures from the very first book, and now twelve books in, I can only say that this series just keeps getting better. I will admit that when I read the blurb, I was a bit put-off – Gillian’s been kidnapped again? Toby’s (non-) relationship with her estranged daughter has been one of my least favorite parts of the series, so the prospect of a book rehashing that all again was not very appealing to me, and I went into this expecting to enjoy the individual bits and pieces (like Toby, May, Danny, and Quentin catching flying faerie pigs in an upscale SF neighborhood) even if I didn’t care for the overall plot. Well, my fears were unfounded, because instead I found another fascinating take on family – the families we make versus the ones we are born into – in a thematic continuation of the last book.
“You’re not alone anymore,” he said softly.
When the book starts, the repercussions from The Brightest Fell are still being felt – one large one being that Tybalt has PTSD from Amandine’s imprisonment, and even Toby’s resemblance to her mother is enough to trigger it, so he’s avoiding her and any attempt at help. Toby’s actually rather introspective at being on the wrong end of the “I can handle my problems MYSELF!” stick, so while she’s happy for some work to get her mind off of her relationship problems, the last thing she needs is her ex and his new wife showing up on her doorstep and accusing her of kidnapping Gillian from UC Berkeley, where she attends college. Toby, of course, rushes off to investigate, and as the clues pile up, it’s clear that the perpetrator is someone in Faerie. But where the kidnappers targeting Toby herself, or is there more at work than meets the eye?
“No matter how far we run, we never get away from family.”
I’ve had a lot of mixed feelings about Toby and Gillian’s relationship – when the book starts, she didn’t even know that Gillian was attending college, let alone which one – and while I’ve come to understand and sympathize with her reasons for walking away from a daughter she obviously loves so much, it’s never sat quite right with me. The interesting thing, though, is that Toby is a much different person now than she was when back in Rosemary and Rue, and she’s got a wealth of friends and found family to back her up (or be used as hostages, as she found in the last book). At one point, Toby describes her early self as a Nancy Drew knock-off, and it’s a fairly accurate description, and a reminder of another of my favorite parts of this series: Toby grows and changes, and you can never expect exactly what will happen. The broken Toby who came back to the human world after fifteen years as a koi is very different from the Toby who’s deposed two monarchs and defeated a Firstborn, or, more importantly, the Toby who, at the end of a long day, looks forward to returning home to her house to her Fetch and her girlfriend, her squire and his friends, and her fiancé. What we’re reminded of, most importantly, through the book and the novella that follows, is that there’s more than one side to every story, and sometimes people have REASONS.
“Um, this is Toby,” said Quentin. “We’re always about to die. When we’re not about to die, we’re still about to be about to die. She’s like a Rube Goldberg machine whose only job is generating life-threatening situations.”
Please note the all-caps on that “reasons,” because about halfway through the book, there’s a humongous plot twist that puts a lot of things into a new light, including Toby’s relationship with Gillian, which, needless to say, I felt a lot differently about at the end of the book. Beyond the unexpectedness, there’s the same tight mystery plot I’ve come to expect, and the same cast of characters I’ve grown to love, including Walther, Arden, Danny, and, of course, the Luidaeg. I am continuously wowed by how Ms. McGuire never seems to phone these books in, despite writing one a year for the past twelve years – there’s always a new fully-formed area of Faerie to explore or a new revelation to rip open Toby’s world. The worst part about reading these books? Knowing that I’ll have to wait until next September for another one!
“Well,” said May, after a long pause. “You’ve pissed off the Queen who’s actually in charge of us and convinced a Queen who isn’t that she should help us out. That’s … pretty true to form. You’re still you. I just checked.”