Bookbanter Column: Get Lost in a Good (Urban) Fantasy Series, Part 5: October Daye (August 31, 2012)

Seanan McGuire published her debut novel and first in the October Daye series, Rosemary and Rue, in 2009.

She now has an impressive nine books out in just three years with the tenth due out in September.

She has perhaps become better know for her zombie horror trilogy, with Feed, Deadline and Blackout under the pseudonym Mira Grant, but her urban fantasy series is a classic example of the genre with interesting and engaging characters, thrilling supernatural mysteries, plus it’s all set in the San Francisco area, so locals will love it.

Think Harry Dresden, but make him female, set her in San Francisco, and accept that the world of Faerie not only exists but has portals linking to our own world and the characters of fable are very real and terrifying.

McGuire will be releasing the sixth October Daye book, Ashes of Honor, on September 4.

Rosemary and Rue

October Daye is a changeling (half-human half-fae) who has never really felt she belongs in San Francisco, or the realm of Faerie for that matter.  A private detective, who seeks to help out her kind when they are in trouble, has her world changed when she is turned into a koi fish in the opening pages of the book and finds herself trapped beneath the waters for fourteen years and six months.  The spell finally breaking, she returns to a very different San Francisco.  While she attempts to acclimatize to this future world, a high ranking elven lady is found murdered, and as Toby investigates she finds herself magically bound to the woman until the mystery of her death is solved.

A Local Habitation

As Toby tries to settle down, licking her wounds from her last escapades in Rosemary and Rue, she is asked by her liege, the Duke Sylvester Torquill of the Shadowed Hills to check on his niece, Countess January O’Leary of Tamed Lightning, better known as Freemont, as he hasn’t heard from her in some time.  Taking a sidekick along – Quentin — to show him the ropes, she finds herself caught up in way more than she bargained for.

Arriving at Tamed Lighting, Toby finds what appears to be a simple company that produces computer fantasy games, except that all the employees aren’t human, in fact there’s not a single regular human that works there.  Then there’s the quiet way everyone acts around her, as if they’re hiding something.  Then the first person turns up dead.  As Toby unravels the mystery, it turns out bodies have been piling up, but when she tastes their blood to find out what happened to them, she gets nothing.  They are empty husks with no story to tell of their demise.  The mystery grows further when Toby finds herself under attack from someone or something.

An Artificial Night 

As half-fae Toby recovers from her previous near-death escapade, she wonders if she might have some time to do some normal, everyday things, but soon receives a knock at the door.

It’s her Fetch, Maye Daye, a special doppelgänger that can only exist if Toby’s death is quickly approaching.  Wondering where her day will go next, she soon receives news that the ceremonial hunt is now on: Blind Michael, lord of the Wild Hunt, is looking for new recruits; only his methods for acquiring them are unorthodox to say the least: he kidnaps them.

Toby finds out that Blind Michael has kidnapped a number of fae children and human children, some of them she is very close to.

There are only certain roads that can take her on this mission to the world fae and the lands of Blind Michael; each of them takes a toll.  Toby enlists the help of some unusual allies: Tybalt, Lord of Cats; the Luidaeg, an offspring of Oberon and sibling to Blind Michael; Lily, a powerful fae of the Japanese Gardens in San Francisco; and her fetch, Maye Daye.  And it is in Blind Michael’s lands that she meets another unusual character who has a strong connection with someone important in Toby’s life.  Also it seems like this Tybalt guy who Toby has always had to hold her own against, may in fact not be such a bad cat after all.

Late Eclipses

Toby’s still alive and well – relatively speaking – living with her fetch (summoned due to her apparently approaching, imminent death), her rose goblin, and her cats.  Just when it seems like she might have a moment to herself, she is unavoidably summoned to appear before the Queen of Mists, who has always borne a grudge against Toby, who isn’t looking forward to this meeting.  In a surprise that shocks Toby more than anyone else, the Queen promotes her to countess.

Suspecting a conniving trap, Toby finds herself drawn across San Francisco from place to place as her dear friends and loved ones begin to fall ill due to a mysterious sickness, including Lily, Lady of the Tea Gardens and Lady Torquill of the Shadowed Hills.  As she scrambles around trying to find a cure and who’s behind all this, the hammer falls and she finds herself accused of this sickness and people are starting to die.  Then she starts seeing Oleander de Merelands, one of the two people responsible for trapping her in a pond for fourteen years of her life; only it seems like she’s the only one seeing her.

Meanwhile, things between Toby and Tybalt, the King of Cats, begin to heat up.  But Toby will save everyone and fix everything . . . right?

One Salt Sea

Another day, another big problem to solve for October Daye.

This time someone has kidnapped the two sons of the regent of the Undersea Duchy of Saltmist.  Only a month has passed since Toby was brought back from the brink of death and Oleander de Merelands was defeated in Late Eclipses, and now she has a whole new place to call home – Goldengreen – and to deal with.  But she has these kidnappings drop into her lap, and she only has three days to do it or it will be all out war between the sea fae and those on land, which is not a good thing, as the saying goes: “When Faerie goes to war, not everyone will walk away.”

Using some help from the terrifying sea witch, the Luidaeg, who creates a spell, Toby is able to breathe underwater and here McGuire has fun with some great description of strange and unusual and fascinating underwater fae that makes The Little Mermaid seem colorless and boring.  But Toby knows she’s on a deadline and needs to find any clues she can, put them together, and find these missing kids before it is too late.

Originally published on Forces of Geek.

If You’re Going to Read One Zombie Novel This Year, Read “Feed”

Feed

In a little over a month, Feed by Mira Grant will be published at the very affordable price of $9.99.  Feed is the first in the Newsflesh trilogy penned by the October Daye series author, Seanan McGuire.  Why is she using a pseudonym?  Because Feed is such a departure from Rosemary and Rue and A Local Habitation that McGuire felt the need to publish it under a different name.

It is almost the middle of the twenty-first century and zombies have taken over a significant portion of the Unites States (presumably the rest of the world also); Alaska has been abandoned to them; people live in constant fear, not wanting to leave their homes, and it only takes a small amount of the Kellis-Amberlee to turn you.  Feed is told from the viewpoint of Georgia Mason (in this world, after everything went to hell, George and Georgia have become popular names, after a certain director), a professional blogger.  When the zombies rose, the media ridiculed the reports and stories as jokes and fakes, while the bloggers told the real story of what was happening.  Georgia is a strong female character who runs the blogging site, along with her brother Shaun and their necessary techie, nicknamed Buffy — a reference that only certain characters can barely remember.  The team is looking to make it big after getting to cover the presidential run of a governor who wants to make America a better place, more than a glowing hint of the shining beacon it once was.

McGuire delivers a stunning, deep, complex, and moving 600-pager that goes way beyond your average zombie novel.  If the rising dead and blood and gore were surgically removed from Feed, it would be a work of important fiction, with realistic, complicated characters that affect the reader on a number of levels.  But then Feed is made all the better with the zombies; and the technical details, the blogging terminology, and the important medical references that makes it a compelling novel you won’t want to put down.  Think Michael Crichton — at his best — meets the world of World War Z, but in a unique and realistic setting of the future filled with gadgets that we will see in out lifetimes, which only could’ve come from the mind of Seanan McGuire . . . or is that Mira Grant?

And Feed is available for preorder right now on Amazon, and this is a zombie book you’ll want to own, so that once you’ve read it, you can lend it to each of your friends.

“A Local Habitation” by Seanan McGuire (Daw, 2010)

A Local Habitationstarstarstarstar

Ace Faerie Private Eye October Daye is back with her second mystery to solve, and this one’s a doozy.  As Toby tries to settle down, licking her wounds from her last escapades in Rosemary and Rue, she is asked by her liege, the Duke Sylvester Torquill of the Shadowed Hills to check on his niece, Countess January O’Leary of Tamed Lightning, better known as Freemont, as he hasn’t heard from her in some time.  Taking a sidekick along – Quentin — to show him the ropes, she finds herself caught up in way more than she bargained for.

Arriving at Tamed Lighting, Toby finds what appears to be a simple company that produces computer fantasy games, except that all the employees aren’t human, in fact there’s not a single regular human that works there.  Then there’s the quiet way everyone acts around her, as if they’re hiding something.  Then the first person turns up dead.  As Toby unravels the mystery, it turns out bodies have been piling up, but when she tastes their blood to find out what happened to them, she gets nothing.  They are empty husks with no story to tell of their demise.  The mystery grows further when Toby finds herself under attack from someone or something.

A Local Habitation is a great sequel to Rosemary and Rue, ratcheting up the action and fear as Toby once again finds herself fighting for her life, while readers learn more of the complexities of this world that Seanan McGuire had created.  The good news is, after finishing A Local Habitation, as readers attempt to catch their breaths, they won’t have to wait long, with An Artificial Night due out in September.

If you liked this review and are interested in purchasing this book, click here.

Originally written on March 11th 2010 ©Alex C. Telander.

For an interview with Seanan McGuire check out BookBanter Episode 15.

12/14/09 On the Bookshelf . . .

Was delighted to receive a copy of the next in the October Daye series on my doorstep this morning: A Local Habitation by Seanan McGuire.  Will look forward to reading this, after enjoying Rosemary and Rue so much.  And for anyone who missed the interview with Seanan McGuire, check it out here.

Local Habitation

Also have a copy of Galileo’s Dream by Kim Stanley Robinson on the way, which may turn into an eventual interview with Robinson for BookBanter.