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.

“Ashes of Honor” by Seanan McGuire (Daw, 2012)

Ashes of Honorstarstarstarstar

October Daye is back again in a new story in this sixth book in the series.  A year has passed since Toby’s last adventures left her exhausted, wounded and barely alive, and someone close to her dead.  Now she is focusing on training Quentin as her squire, doing her job as Sylvester’s knight and trying to make her life go by in a normal way, but her life is ragged and worn due to her decisions and what she’s done.  Then there’s the question of Tybalt, the King of Cats, who’s a whole issue on his own.

And then she is asked to help once again, as a friend and fellow knight, Etienne, reveals to her that his daughter has been kidnapped.  This comes as a shock to Toby, as she didn’t even know he had a daughter, but that’s because he’s kept secret about it, as she’s half-changeling — like Toby — and lives with her mother in the human world.  Her name is Chelsea, and like her father, she can teleport.  But because she is young and just coming into her powers, she is able to open doors and gateways that shouldn’t ever be opened; places that haven’t been accessible for centuries.  She also can’t stop herself as she’s on the run from her kidnappers, but also because she can’t control her powers.  If they don’t stop her soon, she’ll end up tearing Faerie apart.

Just another ordinary day of mayhem and adventure for Toby, though this time the stakes seem higher than ever.  And she can easily identify with a half-changeling not knowing what is really going on and how to control her powers, and if this were to get out about Etienne, it would ruin him.  Plus there’s Tybalt who keeps lending a helping hand and is always there when she needs him, and Toby really needs to work out what her feelings are about him.  Just another ordinary day.

Originally written on October 24, 2012 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Ashes of Honor from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

You might also like . . .

Rosemary and Rue  A Local Habitation  An Artificial Night  Late Eclipses  One Salt Sea