Seanan McGuire

Yes! A new Toby Daye book!

Publication year: 2016
Format: Audio
Running time: 11 hours and 28 minutes
Narrator: Mary Robinette Kowal

October, Toby, Daye is hosting a slumber party to the teenagers in her life so for once things are quiet. But not for long. Toby’s Queen Arden Windermere asks Toby’s help. In the previous book, the alchemist Walter revealed that he had found a cure for elf-shot. Elf-shot is what the fae nobles use to wage war on each other and threaten others while still keeping to the letter of Oberon’s law of not killing each other. When a full-blooded fae is shot with it, he or she will sleep for a hundred years but if a changeling is shot with it, he or she will die. Walter’s family was elf-shot and they were sleeping so he found a cure and woke them up. Queen Arden’s brother and best friend are still sleeping and she wants to wake them up. However, lots of fae are really concerned about the cure and the High King Aethlin Sollys has decided that nobody should be woken before he calls a conclave of all royalty. The High King is coming next week and Arden wants to wake up her brother and best friend before he arrives. Of course, he arrives early and catches Arden, Toby, and Walter red-handed.

Toby is ordered to attend the conclave. She loathes politics and now she must mind her manners among all the North American royalty. She takes her squire Quentin with her, of course. But there are, of course, complications. For one, the meeting takes place in one knowe and nobody can leave or enter until a decision has been made. For another, Toby’s fiancé Tybalt has to keep a distance from Toby. Tybalt is the king of the court of dreaming cats and he can’t be seen allied to anyone outside of it. For third, Toby’s liege Duke Sylvester Torquill will be there, too.

But soon after then conclave begins, one of the monarchs is murdered and it falls on Toby to find the murderer. Many of the full-blooded fae despise Toby because she’s a changeling which makes the investigation all the harder. Luckily, she has the backing of the Queen Arden and the High King and Queen. At the same time, the fae discuss the cure and surprisingly many are against it.

This is another excellent addition to the series. I adore these characters and the setting. Toby is her determined self and we get to see a lot of the Luideag the Sea Witch, Tybalt, and Quentin. I really enjoyed their interactions. I was rather looking forward to seeing Quentin with his parents but that didn’t happen. Arden is also seen more. She’s a new queen and new to the world of fae, as well, so she’s still unsure about herself. But this time she could host the gathered royalty without mentioning how much she wants to run away. So, she’s growing into her role. We also get hints that the young oneiromancer Karen isn’t what she seems.

The book has a lot of new characters. However, I thought the High King and Queen were a bit too easy to manipulate. Otherwise, the new monarchs were a nice mix: they weren’t all arrogant, racists jerks thinking that changelings were born to serve them.

This book didn’t bring as much heartbreak to Toby as some of the other books so it didn’t feel as intense to me as, say One Salt Sea. I wasn’t really happy with the ending, either. However, quite a few characters have been elf-shot during the series, so I’m very interested in finding out what happens to them. And I just have to wonder what is the Sea Witch up to? Hopefully, we’ll find out soon.

The new Toby Daye book!

Publication year: 2015
Format: Audio
Running time: 12 hours and 47 minutes

Publisher: Audible
Narrator: Mary Robinette Kowal

I’m a fan of the series (obviously: this is the 9th book) so I love the writing style and characters. Of course, I can’t be objective about it. By the way, I don’t recommend this as the first book in the series: that would be “Rosemary and Rue”. This time Toby and her friends travel to another realm and they find out just how much some fae loath the changelings.

Toby and her friends have achieved a lot and have finally started to enjoy their life. Then Rhys, the King of Silences, declares war on Arden Windermere, the new Queen of the Mists, who is Toby’s friend and the boss’s boss. Apparently, the previous, false Queen fled to Silences and managed to secure King Rhys’ help with getting Mists back. However, Arden can send a diplomat to discuss peace and the diplomat has three days to do so. Arden sends her hero, Toby. Toby is horrified at first but has to agree. She takes a small retinue: her boyfriend, her squire, her “sister”, and Walther as her alchemist.

Changelings don’t have it easy in any realm of faerie but in Silences they’re born into servitude. They’re beaten and subjected to addictive substances or poisons at the whim of their masters. This of course angers Toby and her friends. In addition to changelings, King Rhys also disapproves of… well everyone except pure-blooded human looking fae. And he makes his views known loudly and often. Unfortunately, this makes him a bit cartoonish and not in a good way and a clear villain for Toby to bring down.

Like the previous books in the series “A Rose-Red Chain” gives us revelations about Toby and the people around her, although not nearly as much as the two previous books. Walther specifically is from the Silences and part of the former ruling family. That’s why the Sea Witch told Toby to take Walther with her. He also has some other secrets which were a wonderful surprise to me.

Once again, I greatly enjoyed the book. The regular cast is wonderful and we’re introduced to some new characters, as well. We haven’t seen much of Toby’s sister May lately so I was happy to see more of her. Toby also has to test the limits of her powers. On the down side, the villains were one-dimensional and I didn’t really believe that such a small realm which constantly snubs and insults potential allies could really win a war against the Mists. It could well be that we’re introduced to characters and situations which become even more important later.

Yes! A new October Daye book!

Publication year: 2014
Format: audio
Narrator: Mary Robinette Kowal
Running Time: 11 hrs 58 mins
Publisher: Daw

With this story, Toby’s life turns again upside down and many of the things she knew about her past turn out not to be true. Unfortunately, it also drives a wedge between her and some of her friends. She also learns something new about her powers.

Toby’s life is, for once, going well when she’s summoned the Queen of the Mist’s Yule festival. Even though the new queen is Toby’s friend, she’s very reluctant to attend. In fact, Tybalt has to force her to. But it’s worth it: Toby is named a hero of the realm.

However, when she and her merry band return home and finally get to bed, Simon Torquill comes calling. Simon is, essentially, Toby’s nemesis: he turned her into a fish for 14 years and destroyed her life with her mortal family. Simon is also Toby’s liege lord’s twin brother and he kidnapped Sylvester’s wife and daughter, damaging them beyond repair. Toby is more than surprised to see him and when he tells her that he works for someone else. However, that someone has put a geas over Simon so he can’t reveal who that person is.

After an exchange of spells, Simon flees and Toby decides to warn her liege, whom Simon could be impersonating.

This is another emotional roller-coaster for Toby and for us readers. The final enemy is revealed and it came as a surprise to me, even though the clues were there all the time. Toby trusts her allies more willingly than before, which is great. The motivations of some the characters remained vague but I think it’s partly because Toby didn’t really listen to them. Maybe in the future we’ll get a better explanation for some of the things. Otherwise, I throughly enjoyed this book.

The familiar cast returns but Tybalt and Toby’s squire Quinten take the clear center stage. I’m not complaining; they’re my favorites! Along with the Luidaeg, who was awesome, too!

Excellent addition to the series.

Publication year: 2012
Format: Audio
Narrator: Emily Bauer
Running Time: 11 hrs, 20 m

Verity Price comes from a long line of Prices, who are cryptozoologists. Originally, they had been part of the Covenant of St. George, a group of people who want to keep humanity safe from all of those things which go bump in the night. However, when grandfather Price realizes that not all of the non-humans are evil or even capable of threatening humans, he decided to leave. After that, the Covenant decided that the Prices are just as evil as any non-human, and the Prices are trying their best to keep to the shadows. They have managed to keep hidden from the Covenant and some of the cryptids even think that the Prices are an urban legend.

However, Verity doesn’t really want to live her life in the shadows. She loves ballroom dancing and wants to compete, even though that means that she will be in the public eye, however briefly. So she takes on a role and a wig, and starts to compete. Her family objects but don’t stop her. In order to compete, Verity moves to New York. In order to live in New York, she has to take a job. So, she’s a cocktail waitress in Dave’s Fish & Strips, which is a strip joint, owned by a bogeyman. And during the night, she runs through the roofs and protects humans from the more dangerous non-humans. She even compares herself to Batgirl.

Verity is an experienced monster hunter and she has been trained to do it pretty much from birth. She doesn’t have any special powers, though. She’s also the snarky first-person narrator. She’s very protective of her family and those cryptids who are harmless. Although I would have thought that killing 15 women isn’t harmless…

The book is full of non-humans: Aeslin mice, Ahools, Bogeyman, Ghouls, Madhura and others. All of them are given at least a short description and most of them have integrated somehow into the humans world. McGuire’s website has descriptions of them.

The book has also a lot of entertaining characters, such as the Aeslin mice. They live with Verity in her apartment and they worship her as their goddess, cheering pretty much anything she does. I also really liked Verity’s adopted cousin Sara who is a telepath. But the best characters for me were Verity’s family, her brother, sister, parents, grandparents, cousins… it’s so refreshing to read about a character who has a, a family and b, family who cares and supports her. Lovely!

Apparently inevitably, the book also has a romantic interest, Dominic DaLuca. He’s from the Covenant. Yep, he’s one of people who want to kill the Prices. Sorry, but I thought the way they met was a bit stupid and I guess the whole romance was the most predictable part of the book. However, I did warm up to him when I realized that he isn’t the stereotypical alpha male and after they team up, I really like the mentoring relationship Verity has with him. That’s right the woman is the more experienced monster hunter and isn’t afraid to point it out when ever it’s appropriate.

Overall, the book has far more good points than bad ones and was lots of fun.

Bauer’s perky, young voice is very nice for Verity but it’s a bit too much for the male characters.

Oh and it has lots and lots of fun, quotable lines:

“Cryptids like to live where humans don’t, but they also like to be close enough to steal cable.”

“Yeah, wow. I didn’t know people actually paused portentously in common conversation.”

“The Argentine tango isn’t here to play nicely with the other children. The Argentine tango is here to seduce your women, spill things on your rug, and sneak out your bedroom window in the middle of the night.”

“‘Telepaths have ethics?’ Dominic’s eyes narrowed, tone and posture united to convey his disbelief.
“My mother and I do,” said Sarah, letting her head settle against the back of the chair. “We mostly got them from Babylon 5, but they still work.”

“Mother Nature is a freaky lady who probably created pot just so she could spend all her time smoking it.”

Yes! A new Toby Daye novel!

Publication year: 2013
Format: Audio
Narrator: Mary Robinette Kowal
Running Time: 12 hrs, 15 min

Toby has heard that someone is selling goblin fruit in San Francisco. While it gives a nice high for the pure blood fairies, humans and changelings tend to become addicted and eventually die, so Toby really wants goblin fruit sellers out. However, because fairies’ bodies are taken away by night haunts, so that humans don’t find weird bodies and find out about the faerie world, she doesn’t know if anyone has already died or who they were. When Toby finds an hapless changeling’s body she, Tybalt, and May decide to wait for the haunts so that Toby can talk with them. This means that Toby has to face her dead enemies and also her dead lover. That’s a difficult situation all by itself and on top of that Toby finds out that several changelings have died from eating goblin fruit.

Toby storms to the court of the Queen of the Mists who rules SF. Toby is convinced that the Queen will have to protect her subjects, even changelings. The others are more skeptical but they can’t allow Toby to confront alone the Queen who loathes her. However, it turns out that the Queen herself is supplying goblin fruit. When Toby appeals to her to stop the trade, the Queen banishes Toby; she has three days to get her affairs in order and leave the Queen’s area.

Toby asks the Luidaeg to help her. The Sea Witch tells Toby to seek out those who knew king Gilad, who was the King in the Mists before the Queen. Toby follows her advice and starts to suspect that the Queen isn’t actually the rightful ruler. Now, she has three days to lead a revolt against her.

I really liked Chimes at Midnight but I don’t think it was as personally intense as the two previous books, so it suffers a bit in comparison. The plot is fast-paced and we’re introduced into new places in Faerie. One of them is the Library of the Stars which you can’t even find without an invitation. Another excellent literary library!

The familiar cast returns: Toby’s former fetch (death omen) May and her girlfriend, Toby’s squire Quentin, the Luidaeg (my personal favorite), and Tybalt, of course. Most of the characters from the previous books make at least a cameo, so this is really a great way to connect again with them all. We also get to know a bit more about Quentin and he has clearly grown quite a bit during this series. So, it’s perhaps a bit disappointing that Toby hasn’t learned. She still makes a couple of quite bone-headed mistakes. One of the could have avoided the final fight or made it at least a lot less dramatic.

Overall, a good continuation to the series and I strong recommend reading the previous books before this one.

The newest Toby Daye book! The sixth book in the series.

Publication year: 2012
Format: Audio
Publisher: Audible
Narrator: Mary Robinette Kowal
Running Time: 12 hrs and 26 minutes

A year has passed since the tragic events at the end of the previous book, One Salt Sea. October Day, Toby, is trying to recover and not think about Tybalt. But she feels like she isn’t in control of her life anymore and she’s taking more and more unnecessary risks. Her former fetch (a death omen), May, her would-be lover Tybalt, and her squire Quentin are all worried.

Then a fellow knight, Etienne, asks for her help with finding his half-blooded daughter who has been kidnapped. Etienne had had a brief relationship with a folklore teacher years ago and didn’t even know that he had a child until the child’s mother, Bridget, call him in panic, accusing him of kidnapping Chelsea. Toby and the gang are shocked by Etienne’s revelation because he has always been a very by-the-book faerie and very unlikely get involved with a mortal, but circumstances were exceptional. It turns out that Chelsea is already sixteen and she has her father’s teleporting abilities. Most likely, some faerie has kidnapper her for their own nefarious schemes. To muddle things more, Chelsea’s mother Bridget knows something about the faeries and doesn’t trust any of them, especially Etienne and the suspicions fairies he has sent. However, Bridget doesn’t really have any other choice but to help Toby and Quentin.

Chelsea doesn’t know anything about Faerie but she has been secretly experimenting with her powers. She hasn’t said anything to her mother who has always said that they need to keep her powers a secret.

All of the familiar cast returns and I love them. May has been officially designated Toby’s twin sister, and she and Quentin live together with Toby in a rather large house which is owned by Toby’s liege lord, Sylvester. Tybalt, the suave King of Cats, has problems of his own; his underlings aren’t happy that he has become close to a changeling and some are taking matters into their own hands. Also, his heir and Toby’s friend Raj has disappeared. Tybalt has a big presence in the book and I really enjoyed that. We also get to visit the technologically inclined faeries of Tamed Lighting who were introduced in the second book. And of course Toby needs help from the sea witch Luidaeg with tracking down Chelsea.

The brief scene with Luidaeg gives some surprising insights into her personality and life, and are among my favorite scenes from the book. Indeed, many of the characters get further development. We get to see how Quentin has learned under Toby’s tutelage and May gets to stand up to Toby.

My favorite parts of the previous books have been the characters, the expanding world, and the dialog. They are all great in this book, too. The characters feel like old friends to me and many of them are friends who have survive horrible things together. That shows in their interactions. We also get to visit a couple of new places and learn more about Tybalt’s background.

The story starts with a familiar premise: Toby looking for a lost child and getting help from the sea witch. Fortunately, beyond that there’s little repetition of the previous books.

My only complaint is that Toby gets hurt a lot, although mostly physically this time. I’m very happy with the ending. This is a great continuation of the series although it’s not as an emotionally gut wrenching as the previous book.

The fifth book in the series.

Publication year: 2011
Format: Audio
Publisher: Audible Inc.
Narrator: Mary Robinette Kowal
Running Time: 12 hrs and 39 minutes

Things are looking up for Toby: she’s settling into her new role as Countess of Goldengreen and her liege Sylvester Torquell even persuades her to get a squire. Toby’s squire is none other than her long-time friend Quinten who is a full-blooded elf but looks up to Toby as his mentor. Toby even has a boyfriend. However, Toby doesn’t have long to enjoy her new life, when the Sea Witch Luidaeg informs her that she wants Toby to repay all her favors. It seems that the Fairie realms might go to war. Someone has kidnapped the sons of Duchess Dianda Lorden of Saltmist and the Duchess in convinced that the Queen of Mists is behind it. Saltmist is an undersea Dukedom, and the sea and the land fae don’t have good relations, to say the least.

The Duke and Duchess are meeting with the Queen of the Mists the next day, and Toby and Connor attend the Queen’s gathering. Toby meets the Duke and the Duchess of Saltmist, who are, by the way, Connor’s lieges. After a failed assassination attempt against the Duke of Saltmist, the Duchess declares war. Finding the missing sons is the only thing that could prevent that but Toby has only three days to do it.

Ever since she was turned into a fish for fourteen years, Toby has had an aversion to water. Still, she feels for the boys’ parents and immediately starts to look for the boys. She even visits the underwater realm of Saltmist which is gorgeous.

In previous books, Toby has fought tooth and nail for her people and for innocents, and she does it here, too. Very soon after hearing about the kidnapped boys, she starts to identify with their parents and think about what she would do in a similar situation. The last part of the book is heartbreaking.

Connor and Toby are now together. Compared to the flashy and mysterious Tybalt, Connor seems rather mundane, for a selkie anyway. He also seems to be content to obey orders even if they make him, and other people, miserable, rather than try to forge his own way. This is actually a pretty common trait in humans and to me it makes Connor perhaps the most human character among all the willful fae who are determined to walk their own paths. Unfortunately, it seems to make Connor less interesting than the other characters. In this book, Connor is in a difficult place. If war does come, he should stand with the sea while Toby should stand with the land. They both have different loyalties, family, and friends. Connor is quite torn up about it and does his best to help Toby avert the war.

Tybalt and Connor snarl a little at each other but otherwise Tybalt seems to be content to act as one of Toby’s helpers. He even offers an alliance between the cat fae and Goldengreen. He’s surprisingly subdued and mellow in this book, especially compared to the way he acted in the previous book.

The large cast of character is back in full force and we get also a whole new Faerie realm. Once again, I really enjoyed the cast from Toby herself to the mad Queen who is just looking for any excuse to outcast or kill Toby.

I was a little surprised how hostile some people acted towards Toby, especially, the Duchess of Saltmist, considering that Toby was trying to find her sons. The Duchess and Duke seems surprisingly inefficient in it. I would have liked to see more of Connor’s family and friends, but the cast was really big already and I guess we didn’t really need an angry mother or sister or best friend trying to haul Connor back home :).

The Luideag has become my favorite character in the series and she’s in top form in this book. She has her own agendas and sometimes she has to bend or break the few friendships she has to do them. She’s powerful and one of the first fae ever, and she doesn’t let you forget it. But she has another side to her, too, which is revealed in this book.

Secrets are reveled, hard choices are made, and there are hints for future events. Once again, Toby’s life changes. The final chapter is especially poignant.

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