Series check-in: October Daye, books 5 – 7, plus some short stories too!

October Daye, the character, and October Daye, the series, both keep improving with each passing book. I’ve fallen hopelessly under the spell of this spectacular urban fantasy series, and there’s no escape for me! At this point, I’ll just have to keep moving forward until I’ve read them all — and then I can join the legions of fans waiting for the next book in the series to be released.

Over the past week or so, I’ve read three more novels in the series, plus four pieces of shorter fiction that add to the series overall and provide some backstory for beloved characters.

In this series wrap-up, I’ll include the synopsis for each book or story, plus a few thoughts of my own. Warning: Spoilers ahead! I can’t possibly talk about these books without referring to some plot elements, and since this is an ongoing series, it’ll be impossible to avoid spoilers for earlier works. You have been warned!

Book #5: One Salt Sea

October “Toby” Daye is finally doing all right—and that inevitably means it’s time for things to take a turn for the worse. Someone has kidnapped the sons of the Duchess Dianda Lorden, regent of the Undersea Duchy of Saltmist. To prevent a war between land and sea, Toby must not only find the missing boys, but also prove that the Queen of the Mists was not behind their abduction. She’ll need all her tricks and the help of her allies if she wants to make it through this in one piece.

Toby’s search will take her from the streets of San Francisco to the lands beneath the waves. But someone is determined to stop her—and whoever it is isn’t playing by Oberon’s Laws. As the battle grows more and more personal, one thing is chillingly clear. When Faerie goes to war, not everyone will walk away.

My thoughts: October (Toby) can’t have an uneventful life for long, so naturally she gets pulled into an impending war between the kingdoms of land and undersea. There’s action, heroism, and sacrifice — just what we expect from Toby. This series continues strong, with deeper emotional tolls related to Toby’s quest. There’s a development in Toby’s romantic life that I wasn’t crazy about, but that’s probably just because I’m on a different ship altogether. While the romance ends in tragedy, there’s an opportunity for a new chapter in Toby’s love life to unfold in the future. Sadly, Toby also reaches an end (or so it would seem) in terms of the potential for her to have a relationship with her estranged, mortal daughter. All in all, I really enjoyed One Salt Sea, which provides answers to some of the ongoing mysteries, but leaves plenty still to explore in future volumes in the series. The introduction of the undersea is a fabulous addition to Toby’s world, with new settings, characters, and complications. I love how Seanan McGuire continues to find ways to broaden the scope of the kingdoms we know with each volume in the series.

Book 6: Ashes of Honor

 

It’s been almost a year since October “Toby” Daye averted a war, gave up a county, and suffered personal losses that have left her wishing for a good day’s sleep. She’s tried to focus on her responsibilities—training Quentin, upholding her position as Sylvester’s knight, and paying the bills—but she can’t help feeling like her world is crumbling around her, and her increasingly reckless behavior is beginning to worry even her staunchest supporters.

To make matters worse, Toby’s just been asked to find another missing child…only this time it’s the changeling daughter of her fellow knight, Etienne, who didn’t even know he was a father until the girl went missing. Her name is Chelsea. She’s a teleporter, like her father. She’s also the kind of changeling the old stories warn about, the ones with all the strength and none of the control. She’s opening doors that were never meant to be opened, releasing dangers that were sealed away centuries before—and there’s a good chance she could destroy Faerie if she isn’t stopped.

Now Toby must find Chelsea before time runs out, racing against an unknown deadline and through unknown worlds as she and her allies try to avert disaster. But danger is also stirring in the Court of Cats, and Tybalt may need Toby’s help with the biggest challenge he’s ever faced.

Toby thought the last year was bad. She has no idea.

My thoughts: Ashes of Honor provides another excellent adventure for Toby, and marks a turning point for her in terms of her private life and looking toward the future. The kidnapping plotline provides for interesting challenges, and by the end, (SPOILER) Toby and Tybalt take a major set forward. Since I adore Tybalt, and I love Toby and Tybalt together, my poor little heart was beating faster and faster during the final chapters. The adventure at the center of Ashes of Honor didn’t grab me as much as the action in some of the other books, but all in all, it was another terrific read.

Book 7: Chimes at Midnight

 

Things are starting to look up for October “Toby” Daye. She’s training her squire, doing her job, and has finally allowed herself to grow closer to the local King of Cats. It seems like her life may finally be settling down…at least until dead changelings start appearing in the alleys of San Francisco, killed by an overdose of goblin fruit.

Toby’s efforts to take the problem to the Queen of the Mists are met with harsh reprisals, leaving her under sentence of exile from her home and everyone she loves. Now Toby must find a way to reverse the Queens decree, get the goblin fruit off the streets–and, oh, yes, save her own life, since more than a few of her problems have once again followed her home. And then there’s the question of the Queen herself, who seems increasingly unlikely to have a valid claim to the throne….

To find the answers, October and her friends will have to travel from the legendary Library of Stars into the hidden depths of the Kingdom of the Mists–and they’ll have to do it fast, because time is running out. In faerie, some fates are worse than death.

October Daye is about to find out what they are.

My thoughts: I had so much anxiety reading this book that I thought my heart would stop! I have never — seriously, never — been quite so tempted to flip to the end of a book just to make sure that the people I care about would all be okay. The fact that I was reading on a Kindle is probably all that stopped me. If I’d had a paperback in hand, it would have been too tempting to resist! I was so over-the-top worried about Toby in this book — becoming forcibly addicted to deadly goblin fruit, losing almost all of her fae nature and powers, facing exile and the possible loss of her place in Faerie — the anxiety was so hard to take! At the same time, the plot was fantastic. I love Toby to death, and I love her gang of allies and sidekicks, and seeing them undertake no less daunting a quest than overthrowing a reigning queen is truly amazing. I couldn’t put this book down — I just loved it so much.

And I need to add that one of the awesome things about having an author set a book series in the town where you live is not just seeing familiar landscapes — which happens all the time for me in this San Francisco-based series — but seeing the author include actual people from real life! In this book, Seanan McGuire makes my favorite bookstore, Borderlands Books, an important part of the plot, and includes the bookstore’s manager as a character, which is just so incredibly cool! Borderlands is an amazing place, and it’s made the news in all sorts of interesting ways in the past few years, as the owner developed a new business model as a means of keeping the store afloat against the odds. It’s worth reading about – here’s an article about it. And yes, the bookstore cat (to whom Tybalt has quite a reaction) is real too:

Ripley of Borderlands

Short stories:

In Sea-Salt Tears is a beautiful, sad story about the Luidaeg, one of Toby’s dearest allies and one of the most powerful beings in Faerie. In Sea-Salt Tears should be read after book #5 (One Salt Sea) and not before, as it provides the back-story just hinted at in the 5th book. The Luideag is a mysterious character whom I’ve loved since meeting her in book #1, and it was a treat to get to learn more about pivotal years in her life before Toby came along.


I really loved Rat-Catcher, which introduces us to a young Tybalt back before he was King of Cats. Tybalt is one of my favorite characters, and I loved getting to see his youth in London (Londinium), escaping the cruelties of his father’s court by hiding out in theater rafters watching productions of the latest Shakepearean play.

In Forbid the Sea, we see a lonely Tybalt about 10 years after taking the throne as King of Cats. In this story, Tybalt enters into a brief dalliance with a Selkie who seems to be hiding dangerous secrets. It’s a brief story, with an unavoidably sad ending.

No Sooner Met is set soon after the events of Ashes of Honor (book #6 in the main series), and focuses on Tybalt’s attempt to take Toby out on a special date. Because this is Tybalt and Toby we’re talking about, things go haywire pretty quickly. It’s fun and amusing, and I enjoyed seeing the story told from Tybalt’s POV.

Where to find the stories: Rat-Catcher was released in the anthology Fantasy Medley 2 from Subterranean Press, which is no longer available to purchase in print. However, the story is also included in Lightspeed Magazine, Issue 70 (March 2016), available for e-book purchase here. In Sea-Salt TearsForbid the Sea, and No Sooner Met are available as free e-book downloads via the author’s website, here.

Wrapping it all up:

Can you tell yet that I’m in love? Oh, maybe because I come right out and say so with every other breath? The October Daye series is amazing — definitely must-read books for urban fantasy fans. I did not expect to get this involved and emotionally invested when I picked up the first in the series (Rosemary and Rue, reviewed here).

Yes, there are still some unanswered questions, and areas of Toby’s life that I wish were explored more deeply. However, the fact that I don’t know everything yet just shows that there’s lots more to come!

I’m now about mid-way through book 8, with three more novels left to go until I’m all caught up! And then I’ll be yet another desperate fangirl anxiously counting the days until the release of book #12 in the fall.

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The Monday Check-In ~ 3/5/2018

cooltext1850356879 My Monday tradition, including a look back and a look ahead — what I read last week, what new books came my way, and what books are keeping me busy right now. Plus a smattering of other stuff too.

Life, and a programming note:

I’ll be offline for about a week or so starting later this week. No blogging, no email, no social media… but I’m sure there will be plenty of reading. I’ll be back with my next Monday Check-in on March 19th.

What did I read last week?

Rise: A Newsflesh Collection by Mira Grant: I loved this story collection, which is a must-read for fans of the Newsflesh series. My review, including a description of each story in the collection, is here.

The Convenient Marriage by Georgette Heyer: This Heyer book is particularly silly, but lots of fun. My thoughts are here.

And my newest obsession, the October Daye series:

An Artificial Night by Seanan McGuire: Loving this urban fantasy series! Check out my thoughts on this book (#3), as well as the previous book, A Local Habitation (#2), here.

Late Eclipses by Seanan McGuire: October Daye, #4 — because I JUST CAN’T STOP. My review is here.

Fresh Catch:

I read the Alex + Ada graphic novels a while ago via the public library, and decided to treat myself to a deluxe edition of the trilogy. It’s gorgeous.

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

I mentioned I’m obsessed, right? I can’t seem to read anything but October Daye right now. I’m currently reading One Salt Sea, the 5th book in the series. Considering there are 11 novels published so far, I still have quite a way to go… but I don’t see myself stopping until I’m all caught up.

Now playing via audiobook:

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’engle: It’s been such a long time since I last read A Wrinkle in Time… and before the movie comes out seems like the perfect time to revisit the story. The audiobook is quite fun so far!

Ongoing reads:

Book group reads:

  • Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade by Diana Gabaldon: Outlander Book Club is doing a group read of LJ&BotB, two chapters per week. If you’d like to join in, ask me how!
  • Starting today: My book group’s newest classic read is Middlemarch by George Eliot. This is one of those books that I’ve always thought I should read, but could never bring myself to actually start. Hurray for book groups! Sometimes, a book group read is exactly what’s needed for those “should read” books.

So many books, so little time…

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October Daye, book 4: Late Eclipses


October “Toby” Daye, changeling knight in the service of Duke Sylvester Torquill, finds the delicate balance of her life shattered when she learns that an old friend is in dire trouble. Lily, Lady of the Tea Gardens, has been struck down by a mysterious, seemingly impossible illness, leaving her fiefdom undefended. Struggling to find a way to save Lily and her subjects, Toby must confront her own past as an enemy she thought was gone forever raises her head once more: Oleander de Merelands, one of the two people responsible for her fourteen-year exile.

Time is growing short and the stakes are getting higher, for the Queen of the Mists has her own agenda. With everything on the line, Toby will have to take the ultimate risk to save herself and the people she loves most—because if she can’t find the missing pieces of the puzzle in time, Toby will be forced to make the one choice she never thought she’d have to face again…

 

Another “fantastic” entry in this captivating urban fantasy series!

Warning: Expect a lot more October Daye posts in the next few weeks, because I’m hooked, and I probably won’t read anything else until I get through ALL of the available books.

I’m really loving October Daye as a character, and the world of the October Daye series as a whole. Late Eclipses is another great installment, with some really dark and dire happenings. An old enemy of Toby’s seems determined to set her up in the worst way possible, leading to attempted assassinations, the death of one of Toby’s closest allies and friends, and Toby’s own life appearing to be forfeit as punishment for crimes she didn’t commit.

Luckily, Toby being Toby, she doesn’t give up without a fight, and the friends and allies she’s made along the way give her the support she needs to take a stand and save more than just her own life.

The action is non-stop, but there’s still time for character development for Toby, as well as the continuing development of the attraction and deepening connections with two different potential love interests. The plot is completely engrossing, and I read like a madwoman until all hours of the night. I could not stop until I finished!

Clearly, I’m falling in love with this series, deeper and deeper, as I go along. As with the best urban fantasy series, this one gets more complex as it goes along, with mysteries, backstories, and relationships all developing in new and different ways with each subsequent installment.

Late Eclipses is a terrific read, and despite my heart-broken tears over the loss of a favorite character, I loved it from start to finish. Onward to #5!

_________________________________________

The details:

Title: Late Eclipses (October Daye, #4)
Author: Seanan McGuire
Publisher: DAW
Publication date: March 1, 2011
Length: 372 pages
Genre: Urban fantasy
Source: Library

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Series check-in: October Daye, books 2 & 3


October Daye is the main character in Seanan McGuire’s ongoing urban fantasy series (conveniently known as the October Daye series), which is set mainly in the San Francisco Bay Area (yay!) and includes all sorts of full-blood and mixed-blood denizens of the world of Faerie. October — Toby — is half fae, half human; in this world, someone of mixed blood is called a changeling, and Toby exemplifies the complicated lives that changelings lead: She has some magical abilities, but they tend to take a toll on her physically. She can’t pass for human without casting an illusion, but she doesn’t belong fully in the Summerlands — the lands of faerie beyond the mortal world.

Toby is also a hero, much as she might dislike the label. As a sworn knight to her liege lord Sylvester, ruler of Shadowed Hills, she fights on his behalf and rights wrongs when needed, usually putting herself into grave danger along the way.

The series kicks off with Rosemary & Rue (reviewed here), a book that sets the stage in terms of world-building. I’ve now read books 2 and 3 in the series (both published 2010), and can (happily) report that the story continues to be fun and exciting and even a little bit heart-breaking along the way.

In A Local Habitation, Toby is sent by Sylvester to investigate an odd situation in the neighboring land ruled by his niece, which happens to be situated on top of/alongside Fremont, California, right in Silicon Valley. The land in question is housed inside a tech company. Weird, right? Something is going on inside the cubicles besides office politics, and what should have been a relatively simple visit turns into a deadly hunt for a killer. And naturally, Toby’s own life is on the line alongside everyone else’s.

In An Artificial Night, fae and human children are stolen by Blind Michael’s wild hunt, and Toby is the only one with a shot at rescuing them before they’re permanently changed into damaged creatures bound to the Ride. The story is quite dark, both because it’s children at risk and because the danger to Toby seems inescapably fatal. The odds of her returning from her travels into Blind Michael’s lands are slim to none, and as the book progresses, it’s harder and harder to believe that Toby will survive.

Of course, I’m well aware that there are another 8 or 9 books in the series so far, and seeing how it’s Toby’s series, I never quite believed that she stood any chance of dying. Still, she gets hurt in the most creative ways in each book, and it’s a wonder that this woman can still stand, much less breathe, by the end.

I’m thoroughly enjoying Toby as a character as well as the stories overall. The supporting characters are quite delightful, especially Sylvester and his wife Luna; Lily, the undine who presides over the Japanese Tea Gardens in Golden Gate Park; Quentin, the teen-aged pureblood learning to be a knight; and the one who stands the best chance of becoming everyone’s book boyfriend, Tybalt, the smirking, dangerous, and sexy King of Cats. (Note: He’s not a cat. He’s a Cait Sidhe, which according to the October Daye Wiki, are “cat shapeshifters. They are ruled by no court but their own after petitioning Oberon for independence. They control the forgotten places and walk the shadows. The Cait Sidhe live in loose alliances called Courts, which each answer to a single King or Queen. The rulers ascend by a trial of combat.”

I’m assuming that Tybalt is the slow-burn love interest of the series, although so far there’s just some unacknowledged chemistry between him and Toby. I’m betting that their simmering interactions will get hotter and hotter as the books progress. (But if you’ve read the books, don’t tell me if I’m right!)

I do still have some unanswered questions about Toby’s backstory and how she came to be Sylvester’s knight in the first place, and it seems like there’s still a lot more to learn about Toby’s mother — especially since fae folk refer to Toby as “Amandine’s daughter” constantly, as if this has great meaning.

This being an urban fantasy series, some of the more predictable elements are really more issues with UF tropes than complaints about the series. Things like Toby being in danger every time she turns around, Toby always being the one to battle the bad guys, even though she has less power than the purebloods, Toby having some sort of undefined mystique in the fae world, and the plethora of enemies who want to do her in. And of course, the fact that as the main character, we know that she’ll come out okay in the end.

The language and terminology and speech patterns used in the books in quite fun, but I am getting a little tired of Toby’s constant use of either “Root and Branch!” or “Oak and Ash!” as interjections. (Yes, they’re kind of cute, but Toby says them A LOT.)

That being said, it’s definitely exciting to see Toby come to turns with past hurts, build alliances, and face the reality of her role as a hero. I’m dying to see what happens next, and will definitely be continuing the series.

I’ve been listening to the audiobooks so far (hence any misspellings of character/creature/place names in this post — sorry!), and have loved the narration by Mary Robinette Kowal. Unfortunately, my library doesn’t have audio versions of the next few books in the series, so I’ll be switching to paper. I’ll miss the great voices and accents, but on the plus side, I’ll probably be able to move through the books a lot faster.

If you’re an urban fantasy fan, definitely check out the October Daye series! It’s fast-paced, exciting, and with plenty of twists and turns to keep you reading for hours on end.

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The Monday Check-In ~ 2/26/2018

cooltext1850356879 My Monday tradition, including a look back and a look ahead — what I read last week, what new books came my way, and what books are keeping me busy right now. Plus a smattering of other stuff too.

What did I read last week?

Blackout by Mira Grant: Book 3 in the Newsflesh trilogy!!! I love these books so much. Check out my series wrap-up post, here.

Mr. Darcy’s Diary by Amanda Grange: Just okay. My Goodreads review:

A quick, light read, retelling Pride and Prejudice from Darcy’s point of view. As the events match up with the plot in P&P, there are no surprises, and I didn’t find Darcy’s narration particularly insightful. It’s one of those reads that I’d describe as “fine” — a pleasant way to pass the time, but not especially memorable or exciting. I might be interested enough to try another of the author’s “diary” books down the road… but it would have to be way, way down the road.

Fences by August Wilson: My book group’s read of this play wrapped up last week. Fascinating and thought-provoking. Next, I need to watch the movie version.

Pop culture goodness:

I saw Black Panther! Loved it.

And I especially loved the kick-ass women of Black Panther:

Fresh Catch:

One new book this week:

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

Rise: A Newsflesh Collection by Mira Grant: Because I can never get enough of the Newsflesh world! This is a collection of stories and novellas, and I’m loving it.

Now playing via audiobook:

An Artificial Night by Seanan McGuire: October Daye, #3. I haven’t had much time for listening in the last couple of weeks, so this book is taking me forever. Still, I’m loving the series, and definitely plan to continue.

Ongoing reads:

Book group reads:

  • Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade by Diana Gabaldon: Outlander Book Club has just started a group read of LJ&BotB, two chapters per week. If you’d like to join in, ask me how!
  • Coming soon: My book group’s next classic read will be Middlemarch by George Eliot. We’ll be reading two chapters per week, starting in early March. Anyone who’s interested is welcome to join us! We’re an online group, and we’re always happy to include new members, so ask me how to join if you’re interested.

So many books, so little time…

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The Monday Check-In ~ 2/19/2018

cooltext1850356879 My Monday tradition, including a look back and a look ahead — what I read last week, what new books came my way, and what books are keeping me busy right now. Plus a smattering of other stuff too.

Life.

Ugh. This winter has been the worst. I was home sick for another three days this week, and I still can’t get past this stupid cough. I’m tired of it!

The only positive thing about feeling lousy is all the reading time I’m squeezing in, in between naps and cups of tea.

 

What did I read last week?

By the Book by Julia Sonneborn: A modern-day retelling of Persuasion (sort of). My review is here.

A Local Habitation by Seanan McGuire: Finished the audiobook, and loved it!

Deadline by Mira Grant: SO in love with this series!

Note: For those who don’t know, Seanan McGuire and Mira Grant are the same person — so yes, I’m clearly obsessed with this author at the moment.

Fresh Catch:

This arrived:

Doesn’t it look amazing?

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

Blackout by Mira Grant — book three of the amazing, intense Newsflesh trilogy. Why did I wait so long to finally read these books?

Now playing via audiobook:

An Artificial Night by Seanan McGuire: October Daye, #3. Terrific urban fantasy series.

Ongoing reads:

Book group reads:

  • Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade by Diana Gabaldon: Outlander Book Club has just started a group read of LJ&BotB, two chapters per week. If you’d like to join in, ask me how!
  • My book group’s classic read is Fences by August Wilson — we’ll be done this week.

So many books, so little time…

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The Monday Check-In ~ 2/12/2018

cooltext1850356879 My Monday tradition, including a look back and a look ahead — what I read last week, what new books came my way, and what books are keeping me busy right now. Plus a smattering of other stuff too.

Life.

20 years of wedded bliss! This past week was our 20th wedding anniversary, although we’re postponing the celebration until a vacation planned for next month. We’ve actually been together for 25 years now, but 20 years ago we decided to finally tie the knot… and it’s been a wonderful adventure ever since.

 

What did I read last week?

The Glass Forest by Cynthia Swanson: What a great read! Highly recommended — check out my review here.

As Bright as Heaven by Susan Meissner: Finished late Sunday — review to follow!

Pop culture:

Working my way through Grace & Frankie, and loving it! I’m about halfway through season 4.

Fresh Catch:

No new books! I’m so proud of myself.

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

Just starting: By the Book by Julia Sonneborn, which is supposedly a modern-day retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion. (They had me at Jane Austen.)

Now playing via audiobook:

A Local Habitation by Seanan McGuire: October Daye, #2 — almost done! And once I finish, I plan to keep going with the 3rd October Daye book. I’m loving this series so far!

Ongoing reads:

Book group reads:

  • Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade by Diana Gabaldon: Outlander Book Club has just started a group read of LJ&BotB, two chapters per week. If you’d like to join in, ask me how!
  • My book group’s classic read is Fences by August Wilson.

So many books, so little time…

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The Monday Check-In ~ 2/5/2018

cooltext1850356879 My Monday tradition, including a look back and a look ahead — what I read last week, what new books came my way, and what books are keeping me busy right now. Plus a smattering of other stuff too.

What did I read last week?

Feed by Mira Grant: I am in love with this book. And YAY ME for finally reading it, after having it on my “want” list for so many years.

The Only Harmless Great Thing by Brooke Bolander: This novella defies description — it simply must be read. My review is here.

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah: I was totally blind-sided by how much this book affected me. My thoughts are here.

And in audiobooks:

I finished Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire, the first book in the October Daye urban fantasy series. Loved it! My reaction is here. Moving on to book #2!

Pop culture:

Trying to cram in a few Oscar-nominated movies before March! I managed to watch one this past week:

The Shape of Water was beautiful! I can’t stop thinking about it.

Fresh Catch:

Oops – I may have gone a bit overboard with my Newsflesh obsession:

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

I’m planning to get through a couple of ARCs before returning to zombies…

Now playing via audiobook:

A Local Habitation by Seanan McGuire: October Daye, #2 — loving this series so far!

Ongoing reads:

Book group reads:

  • Lord John and the Succubus by Diana Gabaldon: Our group read of this novella ends this coming week. Next up: Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade
  • My book group’s next classic read is Fences by August Wilson, starting this week.

So many books, so little time…

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Audiobook Review: Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire


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.

Rosemary and Rue  is the first book in the ongoing October Daye series — and as the first book, it has a lot of heavy lifting to do, in terms of establishing characters, building a world, and setting up the rules of the supernatural system that dictates the possibilities of plot from the starting point onward. Fortunately, Seanan McGuire is supremely talented and inventive, and in Rosemary and Rue, she’s more than up to the challenge of creating a world we’ll want to stay in.

Set in and around San Francisco, R&R starts with a pretty ominous set-up for Toby (October) in the prologue. While chasing her liege lord’s enemy (who’s also his twin brother), Toby walks into a trap and loses the next fourteen years of her life. I won’t say why or how — it’s just too much fun to find out for yourself.

We re-meet Toby in chapter one after she’s returned to a version of her former life, having sworn off anything to do with the world of the fae, determined to live as simply human and ignore the other half of her changeling identity. She’s been burned too badly and has lost far too much to be able to stomach the idea of returning to the intricate systems of fae courts and allegiances and territories. But Evening’s murder sucks her back in against her will, and soon enough Toby is brought face to face with old allies, lovers, and enemies. Her own life is on the line as she tries to solve the murder. If she fails, Evening’s dying curse will take Toby’s life as well.

The plot of R&R follows Toby’s search for clues and her reinvolvement with characters from her past, some well-meaning, some clearly not. As a changeling, Toby’s magical abilities are only so-so, and each time she engages with a pureblood, she’s at risk. As you’d expect in an  urban fantasy series, Toby is a smart-ass, tough woman with her own set of abilities, not least a talent for thinking on her feet, reading a room, and figuring out how to get what she wants. Still, she has vulnerabilities too, both physical and emotional, and she certainly suffers throughout the book as all sorts of baddies are out to get her and stop her investigation.

I love Toby as a character, and love the odd assortment of changelings and purebloods we meet along the way. Also excellent is the use of San Francisco as a setting. While some of the location descriptions didn’t quite gel with the reality of the area, others (such as the use of the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park) are just brilliant.

I have to give a shout-out to the most endearing and adorable magical creature in the book, a “rose goblin” named Spike. Picture a cat with thorns instead of fur, and you have the basic idea. Just loved it.

I did wish that Toby’s backstory was spelled out in a little more concrete detail. As with many urban fantasy stories, we start in the middle of the action and learn about Toby’s difficult past through various references as we go along. It’s enough to give a general timeline, but I still have questions. What does it mean that she’s a knight? What was the process to become one? How did she first join Sylvester’s court? Maybe future volumes in the series will provide more specifics.

Even thought the solution to the murder wasn’t that difficult to guess, I still enjoyed the revelations, Toby’s realizations about the various people in her life, and the reasons behind the events. The plot is fast-paced and exciting, and I enjoyed the adventure start to finish.

Narrator Mary Robinette Kowal brings her talents to the variety of characters, with accents and intonations and pitches that distinguish them and make it easy to identify the speaker at any given point — not always easy in audiobooks. As with the Indexing books, she does a great job of making the story flow, and I enjoyed her depiction of Toby’s inner life.

Rosemary and Rue was really a fun listen, and I’m planning on diving right in with book #2.

Note: Woo hoo! I’ve started another series from my reading goals list for 2018!
_________________________________________

The details:

Title: Rosemary and Rue
Author: Seanan McGuire
Narrator: Mary Robinette Kowal
Publisher: DAW Books
Publication date: September 1, 2009
Length (print): 346 pages
Length (audiobook): 11 hours, 20 minutes
Genre: Urban fantasy
Source: Purchased

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The Monday Check-In ~ 1/29/2018

cooltext1850356879 My Monday tradition, including a look back and a look ahead — what I read last week, what new books came my way, and what books are keeping me busy right now. Plus a smattering of other stuff too.

What did I read last week?

Miss Kopp’s Midnight Confessions by Amy Stewart: Fabulous audiobook! My review is here.

Still Me by Jojo Moyes: Loved this follow-up to Me Before You and After You. My review is here.

Started and stopped:

I don’t know if it’s even worth mentioning, but I read the opening chapters of two very different books last week — one for book group, one just because — before deciding that I just wasn’t in the mood to continue:

Maybe I’ll go back to one or both at some point… but for now, they’re back on the shelf.

Fresh Catch:

One new book this week:

The cover blurb made me laugh — find out why, here.

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

Feed by Mira Grant: Woooo! I’m so excited to finally be starting the Newsflesh books… because a) I’ve wanted to read these for a long time now, and b) this was actually one of my series reading goals for 2018!

Now playing via audiobook:

Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire: Time for a little urban fantasy… and the start of another series from my reading goals list!

Ongoing reads:

Book group reads:

  • Lord John and the Succubus by Diana Gabaldon: Our group read of this novella continues — contact me if you’d like to join in.
  • My book group’s next classic read will be Fences by August Wilson, which we’re starting next week.

So many books, so little time…

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