Politics have never been October “Toby” Daye’s strong suit. When she traveled to the Kingdom of Silences to prevent them from going to war with her home, the Kingdom of the Mists, she wasn’t expecting to return with a cure for elf-shot and a whole new set of political headaches.
Now the events she unwittingly set in motion could change the balance of modern Faerie forever, and she has been ordered to appear before a historic convocation of monarchs, hosted by Queen Windermere in the Mists and overseen by the High King and Queen themselves.
Naturally, things have barely gotten underway when the first dead body shows up. As the only changeling in attendance, Toby is already the target of suspicion and hostility. Now she needs to find a killer before they can strike again—and with the doors locked to keep the guilty from escaping, no one is safe.
As danger draws ever closer to her allies and the people she loves best, Toby will have to race against time to prevent the total political destabilization of the West Coast and to get the convocation back on track…and if she fails, the cure for elf-shot may be buried forever, along with the victims she was too slow to save.
Because there are worse fates than sleeping for a hundred years.
I think it’s fairly obvious to long-time readers of my blog that I’m a giant fan of Seanan McGuire. I adore the sheer scope of her crazy wonderful imagination. She’s given me one of my favourite urban fantasy series (and couples!) of all time. She’s a writing machine, with an extensive list of titles and series behind her. I appreciate the diversity that she incorporates into her books. I highly respect, and applaud, this blog post of hers, where she outlines exactly why her female characters won’t be raped to meet some people’s warped ideas of “realism”. (If you haven’t read that post yet, do it. Go ahead, I’ll wait.)
Furthermore, once you get so far in a series, and invested in the characters and the world that you inhabit, it gets to the point where you’d be happy to read 300 pages of your faves sitting around eating breakfast, or something equally as mundane. So I fully declare myself a biased reviewer at this point. Of course, this is the world of Toby Daye: changeling, hero of the realm, affianced to a shape-changing cat, secretly squired to by the heir of the kingdom, living with her death omen… things are never destined to be quiet for too long.
But the tenth book in this series starts out with one of this delightful mundane slices-of-life that we fans covet so much – Toby arranging a slumber party for her teenage squire and acquaintances, a chance for them all to be normal and forget the responsibilities of life for a few short hours. And then, of course, Things Get Real, and Toby is forced into the world of pureblood protocol and politics, a direct result of the discovery during the events of the previous book. But alas! There is murder! Mayhem! Mystery! And some unfortunate near-death experiences, as is par for the course.
“What happened?” she asked.
“The same thing that always happens,” I said. “We were having a perfectly nice evening until it got ruined by a corpse.”
What I like about Toby’s character is that even as she’s become pretty much indestructible over the course of the series – it comes with a price – pain. Not that I’m a sadist, or anything, but it makes a refreshing change from the heroines who can instantly shake off some kind of injury that would fell the rest of us mere mortals and continue on as if nothing has happened.
Without giving away too much of the plot of this instalment, fans can rest assured the series is continuing on strong. We get more insight into some of our regular favourite characters, along with the appearance of some new players. Toby and Tybalt continue to make my heart flutter without becoming boring. While this book wasn’t a game-changer, the Luidaeg certainly hints at a major role that Toby will be playing in the grand scheme of things, a role that will directly affect our favourite snarky fearsome sea witch.
“When you decide it’s time to make enemies, you don’t fuck around,” said the Luidaeg. “I’ve always respected that about you.”
Finally, I must mention that I adore the Shakespeare-inspired titles. Long live the Bard! If you haven’t checked out this series, and you enjoy urban fantasy, do give it a chance. There’s tons of snark, creative world building, and fallible but lovable characters.
ARC received from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Quotes taken from uncorrected proof and may differ from final publication.