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.  🙂


That is the name of a book, not something I’ve decided to do to the site (much to someone’s chagrin I’m sure). At any rate, I have now secured a job (yay!) so I will be reading over lunch and likely going through more books than I have recently since I can now afford to buy new ones (yay!).

So, on to Indexing. This book was written by Seanan McGuire as a serial for Amazon’s Kindle service. You pay your money and every couple of weeks, you get a new chapter until you finish the book, which I have just done. I did this as a trial and while it has a certain amount of appeal (new chapters are automatically downloaded and attached to the end of the current chapter, even if you aren’t finished with it), it can also be frustrating when the writer doing it is as good as Seanan McGuire.

And now the plot! This was really imaginative! There is an entity called the ATI Management Bureau (ATI = Aarn-Thomas Index or something to the like. It’s been a long time since I read the beginning of the book). The job of the ATI bureau is to keep the incursion of fairy tales into the ‘real world’ at a minimum. We’re not talking about something like the movie Enchanted where a Disney princess from an animated realm pops into Central Park (or wherever, I didn’t see that movie).

No, we’re talking about fairy tales latching on to a person and forcing them to live out the story of a Snow White, a Sleeping Beauty, a Little Mermaid etc. And the thing about fairy tales is that, if you read the original versions of a lot of them, they aren’t very nice. Often times when a story takes over someone’s life, it kills that person or someone close to them. Or otherwise ruins their lives.

The lead character is a lady by the name of Henrietta “Henry” Marchen. Henry is a Snow White in waiting: hair as black as coal, skin as white as snow, lips as red as roses. At any time, with the right trigger (generally taking a bite of an apple), she could go full on Snow White. She works with a man named Jeff who is a fully activated tale (in his story he is a cobbler). When he activated, he blew his entire savings on shoes. Now he’s an archivist for the ATI, the source of knowledge for his team.

Also on Henry’s team is a punk “young” woman named Sloane. Sloane is an “averted” (though I can’t remember if we ever find out how she was “averted”) Wicked Stepsister. This means she is a bitch and tends to think about doing serious bodily harm to Henry (because Snow White, a good character). Because she was averted from going full on Wicked Stepsister (generally this equals murderous), she has the ability to sense when a tale is near and is really very good at breaking whichever cursed story is trying to come into being.

Finally, there is Andy. Andy is a plain old normal human. He has no story that he resembles and is therefore generally immune from the effects some stories might have on the near activated or fully activated team members. And he’s a married gay man. Which really has nothing to do with the plot but I do love it when a writer shows they’re not afraid to ‘go there’, so to speak. 🙂

At any rate, it is their job to stop or contain fairy tale encroachment on the real world because it tends to wreak havoc. For instance, Sleeping Beauties that have a strong enough back story to them can put even regular people to sleep. And none of them will wake up until the Beauty wakes up which could either mean they’ll all sleep for 100 years or they need the kiss of a Prince.  Goldilocks’ tend to attract bears. Real ones. Guess who often ends up mauled?

Henry’s team purposefully activates a tale in order to end another one, a female Pied Piper (usually Pipers are men but this girl had all the tags and so Bob’s your uncle). They get in a lot of trouble over this but they take the girl under their collective wings. She is, understandably, not happy about what they did and later on she turns into something of a bad guy (late SPOILERS).

After that, cases start piling up at an alarming rate. So the team has to figure out what is going on before its too late.  Will Henry go full on Snow White? Will Sloane become a Wicked Stepsister? And who is behind all of this? I challenge you to read the book and find out. And since it is officially complete now, you should be able to get this in one go now but I don’t know for certain.

I really loved this book and always wished that each chunk I got was longer than it was because I’d zoom through it. However, I did have a couple of issue. One, there was very little explanation of how the ATI came about. Who first noticed these incursions? How did he/she/they convince others of it? How did they figure out how to stop things? And two, McGuire kept using code (like 709 is Snow White…I think) but there’s no glossary at the front or back of the book that we could reference. It would have been nice to have a little summation of a couple of these tales because its been a while since I’ve read any of them and some of them are obscure. For instance, growing up the version of Snow White that I heard never mentioned a sister named Rose Red. In the book Snow White and Snow White with a Rose Red are two differently indexed tales, even though they are a similar story. So it can get a little confusing if you’re doing this chunk by chunk.

However, that doesn’t change the fact that I would love, love, love to read a sequel. I’d like to see the characters explored a bit more. So very much worth the read. I love unique takes on beloved old fairy tales. Rating: A.

Ashes of Honor

Okay, so putting this out there ***MAJOR SPOILERS***. You have been warned.

Oh. My. God. Ohmygod, ohmygod, ohmygod. Ashes of Honor is fantastic. This might just be my favorite of Seanan McGuire’s October Daye books. We pick up with plucky Toby some months after Connor has died and Gillian has chosen to be human. At the very start of the book, she is doing something dangerous, confronting a group of teenage Changeling druggies. But these drugs aren’t the usual drugs of pot or heroin one might think of as being rampant in a city just as San Francisco. This drug is called goblinfruit and while harmless to purebloods, it is addictive and fatal to Changelings.

Toby is confronting them without back up and with only her knife. These kids are armed with mortal weapons and are of the opinion that Toby needs to die. Why? Because in the very first Toby Day novel, Rosemary and Rue, Toby killed Devin, the man that took care of most Changeling kids. So they shoot Toby but it doesn’t kill her. Toby’s mom messing about with her blood to make her more than a mere Changeling makes her very hard to kill. That doesn’t stop her friends from worrying.

Speaking of friends, Tybalt has been sent after her by May and Quentin, arriving just in time to dispense some Cait Sidhe justice on the stupid young drug dealers. He then takes her home where another surprise is waiting for her, Etienne the Senechal for Shadowed Hills. Etienne has a problem. Namely, he had a daughter by a human some sixteen years ago and never knew it. And now, that daughter has come into her fae powers and has disappeared.

Disappearing happens to be Etienne’s trick. He’s Tuatha de Dannan, a teleporter. And his daughter is too. Only she’s a lot more powerful than dear old dad. Apparently on occasion Changeling children are more powerful than their full blood parents because something goes (genetically, I’m assuming) wrong and they have none of the innate blocks on their powers that pure bloods have.

The problems start piling up as Toby takes Quentin to visit her aunt, the Luidaeg (Sea Witch) for a tracking charm. It seems that an out of control Changeling Tuatha can rip the very fabric of Faerie apart at the seams. Etienne’s daughter, Chelsea, has apparently already been to places that the long gone Oberon had sealed off for his own mysterious reasons. And because everyone in Faerie lives by Oberon’s Laws, this could mean tons of trouble.

Toby has to track down Chelsea and the ones who took her while dealing with a Tybalt who has finally, FINALLY confessed his feeling to her. SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! I have been waiting for this forever and a day! Not to mention that one of his subjects is attempting to usurp Tybalt’s throne and the Countess of Dreaming Glass, Treasa Riordan, is up to something.

This was an amazing book and I am sooooo tempted to re-read it right now. Seanan McGuire, you had better write the next book because I’m drooling for more! Rating A+

One Salt Sea, Again

I just reread the Toby Daye novel One Salt Sea by Seanan McGuire and I fell in love with it again. This is the latest published Toby Daye novel and I cannot wait for the next one to come out. Toby has been given the title (and knowe) of Countess of Goldengreen. This previously was held by someone who had been murdered in the first book. The Queen of Mists gave it to Toby out of spite. But that isn’t Toby’s immediate problem.

The immediate problem is that Toby has been tapped by her aunt, the Luidaeg (apparently pronounced Lu-shak or similar according to the handy pronunciation guide), to stop a war between the Undersea and the land dwelling fae. The Luidaeg is incredibly powerful, being the first born of Oberon and Maeve…but apparently she cannot do anything to harm harm the children of Titania (most land-dwelling fae). I see this as a convenient way to rein in her abilities so she doesn’t become the deus ex machina of the series.

On top of that, Tybalt is back and sniffing around Toby. I really hope they shag in the next book because the UST is so thick between the two of them. There didn’t seem to be much chemistry written between Toby and her chosen love interest Connor, a Selkie from Half Moon Bay. It just seemed like she chose him because 1) Tybalt disappeared after the last book because the Cait Sidhe were decimated by poison and 2) She’d had something forbidden with Connor before she’d turned into a fish (in the first book).

I thought this was really the best book in the series so far. I enjoyed the plot quite a bit and I really dig the character of the Luidaeg. She’s a bit like House in her temperament and she’s far too old to really care about what anyone thinks. I sincerely hope they explain why everyone is so afraid of her in an upcoming book. I’d rate this book as an A and I really, really can’t wait for the next one!

One Salt Sea

Just recently finished the new October Daye novel One Salt Sea by Seanan McGuire. Oh. My. God. AMAZING…and yet FRUSTRATING.  It is clear that McGuire is going somewhere very complex with Toby Daye. I think  I’m mostly frustrated that I haven’t figured it out yet.  That being said…I can live with the frustration. My husband hates watching movies with me (sometimes) because I figure out the ending half way through. So not being able to see what’s coming in this series out weighs the frustration.

So, Toby is trying to settle in as Countess of Goldengreen…just as war breaks out with the underwater fae. Unfortunately for her, the knowe of Goldengreen is right up against the Pacific. Of course. 🙂 Enter Tybalt, King of Cats. And will he EVER admit that he’s totally in love with Toby?! Okay, rant over. Tybalt offers to have his Cait Sidhe, some of the fiercest warriors in the faerie realm, to guard Toby’s knowe since most of Toby’s wards in Goldengreen are half-breed Changlings or less.

Meanwhile, The Luideag calls in the favors Toby owes her. What does Toby have to do? Stop a war. No biggie. Turns out the reason behind the war is that someone, presumably a land faerie has made off with the two sons of the Duchess of Saltmist. The Duchess suspects the Queen of the Mists (the land queen). The Queen of the Mists just wants war. Despite having some sea fae blood in her, she apparently has bigoted feelings towards the sea fae as a whole. Too bad the sea fae are BAMFs and the land fae have been sitting on their collective arses since the last war more than a hundred years ago.

To keep her friends from getting killed, Toby uses her detecting skills to find the missing boys. On the way, she takes a squire (Quentin), turns into a mermaid to visit Saltmist and (*spoiler alert*) loses her paramour, Connor. Now Connor was a nice enough person but ever since the first interaction with Tybalt, I was rooting for the two of them to get their acts together.  Connor was a little wimpy for my tastes but hey.

So this one is a must read. It’s really good. And it has a nice little cliff hanger. A+ Buy it!

New Books

Okay, it’s been a massively long time since I’ve last updated my blog here.  Work, work, work and a nasty respiratory infection will do that to you. So instead of just one book, I’ll review a few books/series.

An Artificial Night by Seanan McGuire. This is the next installment of the October Daye series.  I was waiting so long for this one, or so it felt. I really love this series. Toby Daye is a fairly complex character and her relationships are equally complex.  This book is about Toby trying to figure out who or what is killing off her friends and trying to frame her for it. Not only that, but she has recently been promoted to Countess of the knowe Goldengreen. This knowe previously belonged to Countess Evelyn Winterrose, who died in the first book and brought Toby back into the Fae fold. It was a wonderful mystery, and a bit sad too. I can’t wait to read the next book! Rating: A.

Blue Moon by Laurell K. Hamilton. This is book 5 or 6 of the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series. I can’t remember because I stopped in the middle and I haven’t gone back yet. It isn’t because I wasn’t enjoying it, because it is starting out to be another wonderful book. Truth was I just needed a break from Anita Blake. Anita’s werewolf ex Richard is being set up as a murderer in Tennessee and Anita is determined to help, against Jean-Claude’s wishes. So far, it’s a solid B book.

A Brush of Darkness by Allison Pang. This was an interesting premise. Heroine Abby is living in a town where the supernatural is a part of every day life. Supernatural creatures can only come and go in this town through Touchstones, sort of like magical anchors. Abby is a Touchstone for a Faerie named Moira. Trouble is, Abby is spectacularly ignorant and gets in way over her head when patron Moira disappears. There are incubi, angels (called Celestials), Faeries, pixies, miniature unicorns and more.  Like I said, interesting premise. The writing could be a bit better. I’m mildly interested in seeing what happens next in the series, but I’m not going to be running out to get the next book. More likely I’ll wait until I’m desperate for something new to read. Rating: C-.

Demon Bound by Caitlin Kittredge. This is the next installment of the Black London series. I like this series because its very gritty. It’s kind of reminiscent of the old pulp novel.  Both main characters, Jack and Pete, are hard living, drinking, smoking, cussing people. The novel starts out with Jack having been dragged to Hell (end of the last novel) and Pete trying to pick up the pieces. Trouble is, being Jack’s girl is closing more doors than it opens. I really want to see what happens in the next novel. Rating: A to A+.

That’s all for now. More in the next post. If anyone has suggestions, I’m looking for new books to read.

The stories of October Daye

I just found a wonderful new series.  Seanan McGuire takes you into the world of half-faerie/half-human PI October ‘Toby’ Daye.  When I first came across the book, I was a little leery about the oddly named title character. After reading the book and understanding that she isn’t human and wasn’t raised as a human, it makes more sense. The books all take place in modern San Francisco and around the central character of Toby Daye.

Toby is a changeling (part Fae, part human) and doesn’t really belong to either world.  Changelings are generally treated as second class citizens among the Fae and all Fae hide themselves from humans in this series.  Toby is a Knight of a local Fae duchy, of which there are many. There are also many different kinds of Fae.

The first book, Rosemary and Rue, starts out intriguingly enough with PI Daye trailing a couple of people suspected of kidnapping the wife and daughter of her liege, Duke Sylvester of Shadowed Hills.  Only she isn’t as careful or as concealed as she think because they turn her into a fish.  Yes, a fish.  For fourteen years.  The book is a little vague as to how she becomes un-fished but apparently the spell just ends after fourteen years.

Toby, of course, finds it very hard to reintegrate into modern society.  Technology is much farther along than she remembered. Her lover and daughter thought she had run out on them and want nothing to do with them.  Having failed at her initial task fourteen years ago, she wants to distance herself from her court out of a feeling of shame, even though the wife and daughter were returned. All she wants to do is get a steady job and hide from the world.

Life with the Fae is never, ever simple and she’s called back in to the world, literally.  She receives a phone message from an old friend/enemy, a pure blood faerie by the name of Evening Winterrose.  Evening gets murdered but before she goes, she places a curse on Toby. The only way to lift the curse is to find Evening’s killers.

With the threat of death over her head, she has no choice but to get back into the investigation game and back into court life.  I won’t go into too much detail, but with the fact that there’s a fourth book on the way (can’t wait!), you can safely assume that Toby survives.

The characters are well written and the story was compelling enough that I zipped right through the second and third books (Local Habitation and An Artificial Night). McGuire brings the world to life. Magic, though present, isn’t the be all end all answer in the novels.  Toby Daye has definite limits to her abilities.  If she uses too much magic, she gets magic burn (a nasty migraine). She almost dies in all three of the books and only survives through the help of friends.

I highly recommend these books.  They are amazingly well written and entertaining.  McGuire does a wonderful job in bringing the Fae world to life. I rate all three books as solid A reads and I cannot wait for the next one to come out. I received a number of books for Christmas and I haven’t read any except Rosemary and Rue because I’ve been too obsessed with these novels. 😀