Chimes at Midnight

I love the October Daye novels. They are awesome. Beware SPOILERS.  The latest out by author Seanan McGuire is called Chimes at Midnight. This one starts out with Toby doing her knightly/detectively duties. In a way. It’s really a personal crusade she’s on. See there’s a drug out on the streets. One that is perfectly good for pureblooded fae. It gives them a nice little trip to la-la land. But it’s instantly addictive and eventually deadly to changelings (fae that are partially human).

Toby doesn’t like the stuff. Changelings have it hard enough in the world without killing themselves for a stupid high. So she’s trying to rid the streets of San Francisco of the stuff. She finds proof that it is actually killing changelings with the body of a young changeling in an alleyway. She thinks that this will be enough for the Queen of the Mists to actually do something about it.

How wrong she is. The Queen so actively hates Toby that not only does she refuse to do anything about the goblin fruit (which she doesn’t see as a problem because hey, pureblood queen here) but she actually banishes Toby. Toby has three days to clear out or the Queen will do something very nasty to her. Probably lots of nasty things.

Well Toby won’t go down without a fight. Not her, not ever. That is not who Toby is. So what does she do? Oh nothing. Just plans a little insurrection. The Queen of the Mists (and apparently the correct title is Queen in the Mists. Who knew?) is a pretender to the throne. She claimed to be the daughter of the previous king, who died without actively presenting any children to his fellow nobles.

Turns out though, that she was lying. I mean pants on fire lying. The previous king (Gilad Windermere) was pureblooded Tuatha de Dannan. The current sitting Queen is Siren, Banshee and Sea Wight.  That being the case, Toby sets out to find Gilad’s real kids because the Luidaeg (which is apparently pronounced loo-sha-k. Not seeing that…) assures Toby that he really did have two legitimate children.

Finding them (now grown since Gilad died during the 1906 San Fran quake), is relatively easy. The Luidaeg provides Toby and Tybalt with magic fireflies that will track down her magic. Why the Luidaeg’s magic? Because she provided those children with very powerful protections, so powerful that the Luidaeg herself can’t track them. But those bugs can. So they find the heirs easy enough but there’s a problem. The boy, Nolan, was elf shot in the 30s and will be asleep for some time and because of that, his sister Arden is frightened of standing up for her rights.

Toby eventually talks Arden into at least hearing her out and takes her to Goldengreen. Once there, she asks for Queen Dianda and her consort Patrick Lorden from the Undersea duchy of Saltmist.  Once all and sundry are present, Dianda helps Toby talk Arden into insurrection and pledges the forces of Saltmist to Arden’s cause.

Meanwhile, Toby is still running around trying to arrange things when a human man hired by the Queen hits her in the face with a pie. Yes, a pie. But not just any pie. A goblin fruit pie. Its even worse for Toby than it is for most changelings. As we found in previous books, Dochas Sidhe, which Toby is, are bloodworkers. Powerful ones. More than once, Toby has shifted the balance of her own blood to be more or less fae as needed. Well, the goblin fruit causes her to try shifting entirely human to better enjoy the high. She shifts so far that she doesn’t register as fae to most anyone else, she ends up something like 15% fae.

She doesn’t give up though, doesn’t give in to the craving for goblin fruit. Blood is always the key for Toby and she finds that drinking some, usually her own, helps keep the cravings at bay. Walter, her alchemist professor ally at UC Berkeley, makes her some lozenges from her own blood to keep her going while they finish this insurrection. The Luidaeg thinks that’s such a good idea that she does the same for Toby from her own blood, which is far more powerful than Toby’s is.

And those blood lozenges work decently well. Their effectiveness starts waning quickly because Toby is all go, no quit. She really needs to overthrow the old Queen now because the Queen has a hope chest in her treasury. The hope chest can help Toby change the balance of her blood now that she no longer has the power to do so. Only the Queen is a crafty bitch and keeps chasing Toby and her allies around, capturing Dianda and Nolan and causing Arden to flee.

Finally, Toby convinces Arden (again) that this really is the right thing to do. Arden agrees on the condition that Toby retrieve Nolan from the clutches of the old Queen. Toby agrees because Nolan is in the Queen’s knowe, where the hope chest is.

Toby and Tybalt manage to free Dianda and Nolan and find the hope chest, which Toby uses. It isn’t that simple, it never is where Toby is concerned. But the lot of them manage to get back to Muir Woods where Arden’s knowe is only to find things have gone a little wrong. See the sitting Queen is part Siren and she can make people do things, even things they don’t want to do, but singing. Toby knows this and stops up her ears but no one else has managed to do so (which you’d think they would have thought of because really, they all knew that the old Queen was part Siren…).

Toby has only one thing she can do. To break a Siren’s song, you have to kill the Siren or have her remove it. Well the Queen sure as hell isn’t going to do that and Toby will not break Oberon’s Law (no killing of other Fae). Toby is a bloodworker. She removes all trace of Siren from the old Queen’s blood, thereby breaking the spell. There are quite a few people present who are quite shocked at, even more so than having fallen into the Siren’s song in the first place.

So the good guys win, the bad guys lose and there is a new Queen in the Mists. I’m not entirely sure I really like Arden but she’ll at least not be batshit like the last Queen. Toby kicked the goblin fruit habit because she shifted herself close enough to pureblood that it couldn’t affect her anymore. Now she wants lots of steak and coffee. I can’t wait to see where this goes next. Team Toby! Rating: A+. Also, if you get the Kindle version of it, you get a bonus short story in that universe, but from the perspective of the Luidaeg instead of Toby. I love the Luidaeg, she might be my favorite character in the universe.  🙂

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