Target audience: older YA and adults
Other parts in this series:
- Rosemary and Rue (October Daye, Book 1)
- A Local Habitation (October Daye, Book 2)
- An Artificial Night (October Daye, Book 3)
- Late Eclipses (October Daye, Book 4)
- One Salt Sea ( An October Daye Novel, Book 5)
- Ashes of Honor (An October Daye Novel, Book 6)
Synopsis (from Goodreads):
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.
What I liked:
I've always liked the fae from Irish and, more generally, Celtic mythology and Seanan McGuire can write about them like few other authors. You know, she can create the right atmosphere. No matter whether October fights her opponents, falls in love with Tybalt or recovers from heavy blood loss she is always a little bit out of this world. Which makes her unique.
The plot this time was a little more easy to follow but still the book remained a page-turner, to be devoured in one evening. We deal here with another missing child; a changeling teleporter who is not aware of her potential but eager to explore it. Which is doubly problematic since Toby can't exactly follow a teleporter around and the girl must be stopped before she does some serious damage to the fairy lands. That's when it helps to have friends in high places, such as the Luidaeg, a Sea Witch who can make a spell for almost any occasion, or a King of Cats who can travel through the shadows, which is almost the same thing as teleporting, but significantly more uncomfortable for a non-Caith Sidhe like Toby.
The best bits for me in this book were seeing the character developments. It's been a year since the last book (in Toby time as well as our time), and much has changed: Quentin, who's around 18 now, is growing up fast. May is becoming more and more like the twin sister people think she is. The Luidaeg still hasn't killed Toby and it seems she won't be willing to do so, no matter the circumstances. And maybe, just maybe, Tybalt doesn't 'dislike' our heroine as much as she once believed.
What I didn't like:
In this part the author first introduces a certain kind of goblin fruit which is like a drug to all fae, changelings and humans; then there are no consequences. I wonder what happened: a sudden change in the plot or just a bit of info which might be useful later? Anyway it sounded off - I waited and waited for the said fruit to be mentioned again, in vain. I admit I also didn't get the meaning of the title. Ashes? What ashes? Of whose honour? Ok, maybe I am not exactly sharp after this year's Christmas but I really think the title needs some explaining...
Apart from that the fact that the author and/or the editor want to make every single installment a stand-alone started to grate on me a bit. You see, in almost every chapter you find those annoying infodumps - small but still noticeable. Let's face it, after six books the info becomes more and more repetitive, especially if you, like me, are a faithful fan so you've read every single one of them. Would it be so difficult to include a synopsis as an introduction - to be skipped or read according to your particular needs?
Finally my last carping. Toby is a nice enough character, but I think she spends too much time almost dead and having her friends rescue her and patch her up. It is hardly realistic . I know heroes are supposed to get hurt and overcome it, but they shouldn't get their ass handed to them in *every* fight and in every installment. Not to mention the fact that even the biggest heroes need some downtime to recover, think about their lives, clean the flat, go shopping, if only online, and do normal, day-to-day stuff. I do hope such moments will be awarded to Toby in the near future.
The whole series is far from perfect but the main heroine makes it worth reading anyway. Now more than ever October Daye ranks as a nuanced, fascinating fictional character. She is independed, she kicks butt in her unique way and the fae world building is really fantastic. It was satisfying to see October and Tybalt getting what they really want, and there was some progress made towards the deeper mysteries of the series.