The second book in the fantasy series about October Daye, a half-blooded Daoine Sidhe and a private investigator.

Publication year: 2010
Format: Audio
Publisher: Audible Inc.
Narrator: Mary Robinette Kowal
Running Time: 12 hrs and 32 minutes

Toby’s liege lord Count Sylvester Torquill is worried about his niece January. Since January is a mistress of her own domain, he can’t visit her or it could be interpreted as a hostile act. So, he asks Toby to go to January’s computer firm, the Tamed Lightning, and find out if everything is okay. Sylvester also sends along one his young pages, Quentin who is a full blooded fae. Toby isn’t happy but she agrees.

Quentin and Toby drive to January’s place and are confronted by several suspicious underlings. Soon enough they find out that something is really wrong.

The book starts as a basic private eye investigation and Toby doesn’t have any personal stake in the matters. In my experience, that’s pretty unusual for UF where the plots usually center around the heroine’s budding powers and the problems caused by them. Eventually, we find out some things that might have huge implications for the whole Fae world, though. Just like in the PI books, most of the cast of characters were new. This meant that Toby’s personal problems which were revealed in the first book, such as her mother acting like a crazy woman and Toby’s daughter not wanting anything to do with her, where not addressed at all. Nor where the larger fae world issues, such as their missing king or what happened to Luna and her daughter when they spent years kidnapped. This was a bit disappointing because I was really interested in them. But I’m hoping that they will play a part in the next book.

Unfortunately, the book has some problems. Mainly, the villain was a bit too obvious early on so it doesn’t really work as a mystery. That tends to be a problem for mystery books which have severely limited list of possible villains. In that respect the Tamed Lightning company was too isolated from everyone else and there were no suspects coming in or out. Unfortunately, that also makes Toby just a not very good detective.

However, I did greatly enjoy Toby’s wry and humorous narrating voice. She does her best to protect Quentin and the others, and is even ready to sacrifice her life to get to the bottom of the mystery. I also enjoyed the atmosphere and the world-building with the many different fae races, half-bloods, and quarter-bloods. We find out some very interesting things about some parts of the supernatural world.

Quentin was a minor character in the previous book and he work well in this one. At the start, he was reluctant to go with Toby. But he’s young and learns quickly. The Tamed Lightning people are a very closed-knit group and suspicious of outsiders. Unfortunately, that means that if they had just come clean right from the start, there wouldn’t have been a mystery, so they are hurt by their suspicious nature. I was particularly intrigued by April who is January’s adopted daughter. She’s a dryad but when her tree was cut down, the TL people hook her into the computers. Now, she behaves like an emotionless android and can appear unexpectedly anywhere at the company grounds.

There were several potential love interests for Toby in the book. Tybalt, the King of Cats, is the obvious choice, and he and Toby continue to circle each other even though Toby draws comfort from his presence and wears his coat for most of the book. Another is one of the TL people to whom Toby was instantly attracted. Fortunately, McGuire was able to twist the poor guy into someone unexpected.

Kowal’s reading is okay and I realized that I pronounce the fairy names differently than her, or rather differently than English speakers. For example she pronounces “Sidhe” like [she:] I would pronounce it like I see it written, like the English word “side” with a short i and a h between d and e: [sidhe]. When she says “daoine” I hear it as “junior”. No wonder I had problems understanding what some of the words were!

There’s a sample chapter at McGuire’s website.

This book is part of my Horror & UF, 2nds, and Once Upon a Time V challenges.