Blog Tour: The Brightest Fell

Brightest Fell Blog Tour banner

I’m so excited to be taking part in the blog tour for The Brightest Fell, the eleventh installment in the October Daye urban fantasy series by Seanan McGuire.

You can see my glowing review for the book here. 

Today I bring you a Q&A with the author, as well as an excerpt from the upcoming book, which releases on September 5th, 2017.

Q&A with Seanan McGuire

There are so many details and twists revealed throughout the series – did you plot them all out back when you were working on Rosemary & Rue, or make it up as you went along?

Both.  What I call the “big picture” has been plotted since the beginning, but I try to let everything else flux and breathe as necessary.  I’ve grown as a writer since the series started, and I have to leave myself room to keep improving.

How was the experience of writing this book, now that you’re 11 (amazing!) books in? Is it easier to slip back in to a familiar world, or more difficult to keep the momentum going?

It’s honestly easier to slip back into a familiar world.  I’m better at writing that many words in a row, and returning to Toby is always like coming home.

Without spoilers, can you describe a little about the book in terms of what it means for our characters, Toby in particular – especially in terms of the ultimate endgame?

No, I really can’t.  The endgame is still coming into focus for most characters—and most readers—and if I say “here is the thing that is important,” suddenly everyone’s attention shifts.  It’s better to read for yourself!

Your supporting cast are all so vivid, and the many novellas you’ve written to supplement the series are testament to that. I get the impression that there’s so much more of the universe/character stories that for obvious reasons can’t make it into the final cut?

The books are inherently limited to what Toby sees.  We’ve started doing the novellas in part because people don’t stay frozen when she’s not looking—they move and grow and change, and I don’t want that to be confusing for readers.  So we’re starting to widen what we see a little bit, to make things easier to follow.

Which character is the most fun to write? (Or write about? Spike always makes me chuckle, for one!)

Most fun to write is, thankfully, Toby.  It would be awful if she didn’t make me happy, given that I’m sort of stuck with her for the foreseeable future.  Good thing I love her so much.

Excerpt

Angels are bright still, though the brightest fell .—William Shakespeare, Macbeth.

THE FETCH IS ONE of the most feared and least understood figures in Faerie. Their appearance heralds the approach of inescapable death: once the Fetch shows up, there’s nothing that can be done. The mechanism that summons them has never been found, and they’ve always been rare, with only five conclusively identified in the last century. They appear for the supposedly significant—kings and queens, heroes and villains—and they wear the faces of the people they have come to escort into whatever awaits the fae beyond the borders of death. They are temporary, transitory, and terrifying.

My Fetch, who voluntarily goes by “May Daye,” because nothing says “I am a serious and terrible death omen” like having a pun for a name, showed up more than three years ago. She was supposed to foretell my impending doom. Instead, all she managed to foretell was me getting a new roommate. Life can be funny that way.

At the moment, doom might have been a nice change. May was standing on the stage of The Mint, San Francisco’s finest karaoke bar, enthusiastically bellowing her way through an off- key rendition of Melissa Etheridge’s “Come to My Window.” Her live-in girlfriend, Jazz, was sitting at one of the tables closest to the stage, chin propped in her hands, gazing at May with love and adoration all out of proportion to the quality of my Fetch’s singing.

May has the face I wore when she appeared. We don’t look much alike anymore, but when she first showed up at my apartment door to tell me I was going to die, we were identical. She has my memories up to the point of her creation: years upon years of parental issues, crushing insecurity, abandonment, and criminal activities. And right now, none of that mattered half as much as the fact that she also had my absolute inability to carry a tune.

“Why are we having my bachelorette party at a karaoke bar again?” I asked, speaking around the mouth of the beer bottle I was trying to keep constantly against my lips. If I was drinking, I wasn’t singing. If I wasn’t singing, all these people might still be my friends in the morning.

Of course, with as much as most of them had already had to drink, they probably wouldn’t notice if I did sing. Or if I decided to sneak out of the bar, go home, change into my sweatpants, and watch old movies on the couch until I passed out. Which would have been my preference for how my bachelorette party was going to go, if I absolutely had to have one. I didn’t think they were required. May had disagreed with me. Vehemently. And okay, that had sort of been expected.

What I hadn’t expected was for most of my traitorous, backstabbing friends to take her side. Stacy—one of my closest friends since childhood—had actually laughed in my face when I demanded to know why she was doing this to me.

“Being your friend is like trying to get up close and personal with a natural disaster,” she’d said. “Sure, we have some good times, but we spend half of them covered in blood. We just want to spend an evening making you as uncomfortable as you keep making the rest of us.”

Not to be outdone, her eldest daughter, Cassandra, had blithely added, “Besides, we don’t think even you can turn a karaoke party into a bloodbath.”

All of my friends are evil.

As my Fetch and hence the closest thing I had to a sister, May had declared herself to be in charge of the whole affair. That was how we’d wound up reserving most of the tables at The Mint for an all-night celebration of the fact that I was getting married. Even though we didn’t have a date, a plan, or a seating chart, we were having a bachelorette party. Lucky, lucky me.

My name is October Daye. I am a changeling; I am a knight; I am a hero of the realm; and if I never have to hear Stacy sing Journey songs again, it will be too soon.

So there you have it, my lovelies. And if you are not up to date with this awesome UF series, might I suggest beginning your journey with the first book, Rosemary & Rue?

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Review: Shattered Minds (Pacifica) – Laura Lam

shattered mindsShe can uncover the truth, if she defeats her demons

Ex-neuroscientist Carina struggles with a drug problem, her conscience, and urges to kill. She satisfies her cravings in dreams, fuelled by the addictive drug ‘Zeal’. Now she’s heading for self-destruction – until she has a vision of a dead girl.

Sudice Inc. damaged Carina when she worked on their sinister brain-mapping project, causing her violent compulsions. And this girl was a similar experiment. When Carina realizes the vision was planted by her old colleague Mark, desperate for help to expose the company, she knows he’s probably dead. Her only hope is to unmask her nemesis – or she’s next.

To unlock the secrets Mark hid in her mind, she’ll need a group of specialist hackers. Dax is one of them, a doctor who can help Carina fight her addictions. If she holds on to her humanity, they might even have a future together. But first she must destroy her adversary – before it changes us and our society, forever.

Rating: 4.5/5

Fantastically entertaining, fast-paced science fiction that I didn’t want to put down. Lam has created a novel with the perfect balance of worldbuilding, action and character insights. And for most of us, reading about renegade hacker groups fighting against the system is like catnip.

Pacifica pretends it’s a haven – no crime, no murders. Peel back a thin layer, and look at what’s exposed.

We’re introduced to Carina Kearney, ex-neurosurgeon and current addict, who acts out her murderous fantasies in drug-induced dreams to avoid actually perpetrating them in real life. As a young girl, she underwent brain modification by a company working on all kinds of neuro-based experiments – which left her permanently altered, unable to feel appropriate human emotions. Later, she went on to work for the same company, Sudice Inc, but left her job in murky circumstances.

As her life falls apart, Carina is sent batches of information from her ex-colleague, which will enable her to expose the company that has ruined her, and the lives of so many others. Only problem is, she can’t access it without the help of a group called the Trust, working to try bring Sudice Inc down. Initially distrustful of each other – as they well should be – Carina and the other members, Charlie, Raf and Dax, soon establish something of a camaraderie.

“Either this will work or we will all die spectacularly,” Raf says, remarkably cheerful.

While the novel does move back and forth in time, between the current mission and events leading up to it, as well as switching perspectives, it doesn’t slow the pace down – which is often something which can happen with this technique.

I also have to just point out this little character description, which had me tickled pink:

Clavell was scouted on a visit with his family to Los Angeles. He starred in his first film, Actually, Love, where he played a misogynist internet troll who falls in love with a feminist online. 

During the course of their mission, as it were – setting up the downfall of Sudice Inc while Carina tries to retrieve the packages of information attached to five of her significant memories – things don’t always run smoothly. The team are constantly watching their backs and covering their footsteps, making agonising decisions about leaving the injured behind and killing their opponents in the name of the bigger picture – the moral grey is everywhere.

“We can’t do it all,” Charlie says. “It’s not up to us to fix everything that’s wrong with Pacifica and the rest of the world. We do what we can, and hope everyone else steps up.”

Shattered Minds gifts us with a strong cast of diverse characters, a pleasing plot about bringing down a corporate behemoth, and some important underlying messages about how far you’re prepared to turn a blind eye.

Carina feels alive. Her fingers tingle. It’s not the same as hunting  a person, but it’s still thrilling. She’s killing a company. An idea. She’s going to watch it all bleed out. 

***

ARC received from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Quotes taken from uncorrected proof and may differ from final publication. 

Review: Who Thought This Was a Good Idea? – Alyssa Mastromonaco

who thought this was a good ideaIf your funny older sister were the former deputy chief of staff to President Barack Obama, her behind-the-scenes political memoir would look something like this… 

Alyssa Mastromonaco worked for Barack Obama for almost a decade, and long before his run for president. From the then-senator’s early days in Congress to his years in the Oval Office, she made Hope and Change happen through blood, sweat, tears, and lots of briefing binders.

But for every historic occasion-meeting the queen at Buckingham Palace, bursting in on secret climate talks, or nailing a campaign speech in a hailstorm-there were dozens of less-than-perfect moments when it was up to Alyssa to save the day. Like the time she learned the hard way that there aren’t nearly enough bathrooms at the Vatican.

Full of hilarious, never-before-told stories, WHO THOUGHT THIS WAS A GOOD IDEA? is an intimate portrait of a president, a book about how to get stuff done, and the story of how one woman challenged, again and again, what a “White House official” is supposed to look like. Here Alyssa shares the strategies that made her successful in politics and beyond, including the importance of confidence, the value of not being a jerk, and why ultimately everything comes down to hard work (and always carrying a spare tampon).

Told in a smart, original voice and topped off with a couple of really good cat stories, WHO THOUGHT THIS WAS A GOOD IDEA? is a promising debut from a savvy political star.

Rating: 4/5

This was a highly entertaining memoir. It did feel a little light at times, in terms of the behind the scenes political strategising and insights into Obama, but as a Guardian review I read noted, Mastromonaco hasn’t ruled out returning to politics – so you can’t go burning all your bridges and divulging things which should rather stay hidden.

The book isn’t written chronologically, but rather organised into chapters focusing on a particular theme or lesson she learnt along the way. And this works for me, since following a format from cradle to grave can very often bore me.

Essentially, Who Thought This Was a Good Idea? is part insight into Alyssa and her career, anecdotes from her time in politics, particularly her time spent in the White House, as well as some humorous commentary and pieces of career advice for young women (Advice, which quite frankly, boils down to persevere, work hard, and stand up for yourself.) Although this did resonate with me:

Forward motion is always better than no motion – even if you don’t think it’s taking you in the direction you wanted to go.

Due to all the above elements included, I wouldn’t classify this as a hardcore political memoir, but it does seem that there is a dearth of contributions from women in this subgenre. (Probably due to a dearth of female politicians/strategists in what still seems to be an old boys club in many countries.) And like I mentioned, I really enjoyed reading this book. Mastromonaco has an approachable style, and it was incredibly interesting reading about her experiences, the people she met and the problems she had to solve.

I also like the fact that she is matter of fact about her achievements. She doesn’t boast, but she doesn’t overplay them. She worked hard to get where she did. And I think it’s something many of us struggle with – the balance between being proud without being conceited.

Finally, something that stood out for me was her openness about her struggles with IBS. As a fellow-sufferer, I was clenching my gut in sympathy reading about her digestive near-misses. Seriously, it feels like digestive issues are the final frontier of health issues we need to stop shying away from discussing in public.

By this point in my career at the White House, most of the senior staff knew about my IBS; I once had to have Ben Rhodes, the deputy national security advisor, watch the bathroom door for me at Hamid Karzai’s palace while two Afghan guards played cards and smoked on the other side of it. This kind of thing really breaks down barriers with people. When you tell someone, “Here’s the thing: I might have to shit on this helicopter,” and they don’t shun you afterward, you have a friend for life.

***

Free copy received from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Quotes taken from uncorrected proof and may differ from final publication.

Hold Me Down (Carolina Girls #1) – Sara Taylor Woods

hold me downTalia Benson has always been independent, unafraid to go after what she wants, regardless of setback, injury, or failure. But between her father’s conditional tuition payments and her mother’s nagging concern over her emotional state, Talia’s suffocating.

So when Talia meets doctoral student Sean Poole, she can’t figure out why she wants him to control her. Why she wants him to boss her around. Why she wants him to hurt her.

Talia learns the hard way that not all control is created equal, and sometimes submitting is the most empowering thing in the world.

Rating: 4/5

I discovered this book after some glowing reviews on Twitter, and am really glad that I picked it up! A slight departure from my usual fare, but as you have have noticed by now, I really do enjoy reading far and wide. On Goodreads, Hold Me Down is categorised as romance, erotica, and new adult respectively, so if you have any interest in these genres, support an indie author.

The book features strong female friendship, a focus on the importance of communication (in all aspects of one’s life, not just in le bedroom), character growth, and great banter.

“Your social acumen never fails to astonish me.”
“I spend way more time socialising than you do,” she said. “Doing it through an internet connection doesn’t invalidate it as a social experience.”
“I feel like you’ve been waiting to use that line on me for a long time.”

There are two main elements to this book that make it stand out from its contemporaries.

Firstly, the much-needed discussion of BDSM, specifically those who enjoy it, and the lingering feeling, either by those who participate or those look in from outside and judge, that there is something psychologically ‘wrong’ with them.

“I think telling me my tastes are dysfunctional because they’re not yours is overly simplistic.”

There’s a lot of discussion with a not particularly-understanding therapist, family members, Talia’s best friend, and her love interest Sean, working through the intricacies and implications of those who gain pleasure from pain.

Secondly, Talia comes from a Jewish background, and her religious traditions are entrenched in the story. Not in a forced way, like Judaism 101, but rather in a way that feels organic. And this makes such a change, a fantastic part of the growing movement of readers and writers demanding more diverse stories.

This is what I believe: I believe in strength through faith. I believe in compassion and freedom. I believe in the lessons of history, and I believe in learning from mistakes, and I believe in not ignoring what’s right in front of you. I believe in deliverance and second chances. I believe some wonders are undeniable, no matter how hard you try to deny them.

By the end of the book though, Talia seems to be in a much more settled place, having made peace with her inner self, set boundaries between herself and the judgement of her family, and learnt how to express herself when needed with Sean, instead of keeping silent or running away.

“Always talk to me,” he said. “Always be honest with me. Tell me what you’re thinking, what you’re worried about. It’s never an imposition or a burden. I want to be here for you, and I want to support you, and help you where I can, but I can’t do any of that if you won’t talk to me. I’m good, but I’m not a mind-reader.”

August releases on my radar + Life update

Hello dear readers. Can you believe it’s August already?

With a new month comes some terrifying new life changes. I’m moving from South Africa to Sweden in less than two weeks time to do my masters in the field of politics/international relations (Specifically, it’s called Ethnic and Migration Studies). So, I am xanax’d up to the gills (legal prescriptions, I promise!) because apparently my subconscious doesn’t handle change very well. Two words: stress vomiting. We’ll leave it at that.

Anyway, I can’t decide if this change means I’ll have more time to blog (i.e. not working a 9-5 anymore and being too tired to review when I get home) or if my poor eyes will get so sick of all the academic reading that I won’t feel like picking up another book again. We shall see.

But a new month means new books – not that I will be buying all of them, but I certainly have a hell of a lot of eARCs to catch up on. Here are my three highlights for the month, however.august book releases

The Stone Sky (The Broken Earth #3) – NK Jemisin

THIS IS THE WAY THE WORLD ENDS… FOR THE LAST TIME.

The Moon will soon return. Whether this heralds the destruction of humankind or something worse will depend on two women.

Essun has inherited the power of Alabaster Tenring. With it, she hopes to find her daughter Nassun and forge a world in which every orogene child can grow up safe.

For Nassun, her mother’s mastery of the Obelisk Gate comes too late. She has seen the evil of the world, and accepted what her mother will not admit: that sometimes what is corrupt cannot be cleansed, only destroyed.

A breathtakingly original and refreshing blend of science fiction and fantasy. You can check out my reviews for book 1, The Fifth Season, and book 2, The Obelisk Gate, to get a better idea of what the series is about.

When I Am Through With You – Stephanie Kuehn

“This isn’t meant to be a confession. Not in any spiritual sense of the word. Yes, I’m in jail at the moment. I imagine I’ll be here for a long time, considering. But I’m not writing this down for absolution and I’m not seeking forgiveness, not even from myself. Because I’m not sorry for what I did to Rose. I’m just not. Not for any of it.”

Ben Gibson is many things, but he’s not sorry and he’s not a liar. He will tell you exactly about what happened on what started as a simple school camping trip in the mountains. About who lived and who died. About who killed and who had the best of intentions. But he’s going to tell you in his own time. Because after what happened on that mountain, time is the one thing he has plenty of. 

Stephanie Kuehn manages to fuck with my mind every single time, pardon my french. I am waiting in breathless anticipation to see what twisty machinations she has up her sleeve this time. Truly one of the strongest YA mystery/thriller writers out there.

Spellbook of the Lost and Found – Moïra Fowley-Doyle

One stormy Irish summer night, Olive and her best friend, Rose, begin to lose things. It starts with simple items like hairclips and jewelry, but soon it’s clear that Rose has lost something much bigger, something she won’t talk about, and Olive thinks her best friend is slipping away.

Then seductive diary pages written by a girl named Laurel begin to appear all over town. And Olive meets three mysterious strangers: Ivy, Hazel, and her twin brother, Rowan, secretly squatting in an abandoned housing estate. The trio are wild and alluring, but they seem lost too—and like Rose, they’re holding tight to painful secrets.

When they discover the spellbook, it changes everything. Damp, tattered and ancient, it’s full of hand-inked charms to conjure back things that have been lost. And it just might be their chance to find what they each need to set everything back to rights.

Unless it’s leading them toward things that were never meant to be found… 

I adored the author’s beautifully-written debut. Her style seems to be a combination of magical realism and mystery, combined with genuine moments of friendship and family.

Others on my list:

  • Young Jane Young – Gabrielle Zevin
  • The Heart’s Invisible Furies – John Boyne
  • In Other Lands – Sarah Rees Brennan
  • Blight – Alexandra Duncan
  • Forest Dark – Nicole Krauss
  • Wicked Like a Wildfire – Lana Popović

What books are you most looking forward to this month? Let me know!

Mini reviews: To all the books I meant to review but didn’t

Ahem. Sometimes you get behind in reviews. Sometimes you don’t have enough to say about them to constitute an entire review. Sometimes you just weren’t in the mood to write one at the time. This post is pretty much a combination of these. And I see a few more heading your way in the future, ha.

The Good Daughter – Alexandra Burt

the good daughterWhat if you were the worst crime your mother ever committed? 

Dahlia Waller’s childhood memories consist of stuffy cars, seedy motels, and a rootless existence traveling the country with her eccentric mother. Now grown, she desperately wants to distance herself from that life. Yet one thing is stopping her from moving forward: she has questions. 

In order to understand her past, Dahlia must go back. Back to her mother in the stifling town of Aurora, Texas. Back into the past of a woman on the brink of madness. But after she discovers three grave-like mounds on a neighboring farm, she ll learn that in her mother s world of secrets, not all questions are meant to be answered… 

Rating: 2/5

An interesting concept, but the execution, pardon the pun, was fairly lacklustre. With some better editing, this book could have been cut down by a hundred pages or so and been all the more suspenseful for it. There was just so much unnecessary filler. I love me some slow atmospheric mystery novels, don’t get me wrong (Jane Harper’s The Dry is an excellent example of how this can be done) – but The Good Daughter just took far too long to get us there. The reader could join the dots long before some of the reveals. Finally, I was expecting some kind of connection between the two cases going on, but there was nothing, which felt a bit strange to me.

Free copy received from Jonathan Ball Publishers in exchange for an honest review. 

Reasons to Stay Alive – Matt Haig

reasons to stay aliveReasons to Stay Alive is about making the most of your time on earth. In the western world the suicide rate is highest amongst men under the age of 35. Matt Haig could have added to that statistic when, aged 24, he found himself staring at a cliff-edge about to jump off. This is the story of why he didn’t, how he recovered and learned to live with anxiety and depression. It’s also an upbeat, joyous and very funny exploration of how live better, love better, read better and feel more. 

Rating: 4/5

This was the book I needed 7 years ago, in the midst of a nervous breakdown where I eventually ended up dropping out of university for a year to recover. It wasn’t the book I needed right now, but it’s comforting to know it exists. I know that mental illness can come in waves, and I know I may very well need it in the future. Haig tells of his own experience with anxiety and depression, interspersed with suggestions on what worked for him, and ruminations on mental illness and how much of it is connected to modern life. It’s definitely worth a space on your bookshelf.

The evolutionary psychologists might be right. We humans might have evolved too far. The price for being intelligent enough to be the first species to be fully aware of the cosmos might just be a capacity to feel a whole universe’s worth of darkness. 

Notes from a Big Country – Bill Bryson

notes from a big countryBill Bryson has the rare knack of being out of his depth wherever he goes – even (perhaps especially) in the land of his birth. This became all too apparent when, after nearly two decades in England, the world’s best-loved travel writer upped sticks with Mrs Bryson, little Jimmy et al. and returned to live in the country he had left as a youth.

Of course there were things Bryson missed about Blighty but any sense of loss was countered by the joy of rediscovering some of the forgotten treasures of his childhood: the glories of a New England autumn; the pleasingly comical sight of oneself in shorts; and motel rooms where you can generally count on being awakened in the night by a piercing shriek and the sound of a female voice pleading, ‘Put the gun down, Vinnie, I’ll do anything you say.’

Whether discussing the strange appeal of breakfast pizza or the jaw-slackening direness of American TV, Bill Bryson brings his inimitable brand of bemused wit to bear on that strangest of phenomena – the American way of life.

Rating: 3/5

I just had to chuckle in despair when I read this book, a collection of short essays. As it was written in the mid nineties, all I could think of was ‘Oh Bill, you ain’t seen nothing yet.’ And not just the humorous nostalgia of internet dial-up, junk mail adverts and catalogues, diners and motels, endless bureaucracy, labour-saving appliances, and all those other weird and wonderful elements that characterise the decade of my childhood. Rather, I refer to the political commentary he slyly interjects into most of his pieces – with the hope that twenty years later, the land of his birth may have made some progress in these matters.

I don’t want to get heavy here, but given the choice between free iced water at restaurants and, let us say, a national health service, I have to say my instinct is to go with the latter. 

Done Dirt Cheap – Sarah Lemon

done dirt cheapTourmaline Harris’s life hit pause at fifteen, when her mom went to prison because of Tourmaline’s unintentionally damning testimony. But at eighteen, her home life is stable, and she has a strong relationship with her father, the president of a local biker club known as the Wardens.

Virginia Campbell’s life hit fast-forward at fifteen, when her mom “sold” her into the services of a local lawyer: a man for whom the law is merely a suggestion. When Hazard sets his sights on dismantling the Wardens, he sends in Virginia, who has every intention of selling out the club—and Tourmaline. But the two girls are stronger than the circumstances that brought them together, and their resilience defines the friendship at the heart of this powerful debut novel.

Unrated

I am conflicted with this one – on one hand, it’s a fun, entertaining YA novel entered on female friendships, young women navigating their way in what is very much a macho world. There’s some madcap adventure, romantic suspense and superb teamwork. The author also has a really enjoyable writing style.

On the other hand, there are two elements in the book that can be considered problematic. First, while both girls are of legal age, the one romantic relationship features a ten year age gap. So keep that in mind. Secondly, the other love interest is black, and the new recruit to the motorcycle club, who takes on the grunt work and isn’t referred to by his name during his probation period. While the author does try delve into this in a conversation between the pair, Tourmaline and Cash, the whole scenario has me feeling uncomfortable considering the history of the American South. Again, something to keep in mind, and I would suggest deferring to the reviews of those more qualified than myself to make a judgement call on this.

Review: The Brightest Fell (October Daye #11) – Seanan McGuire

the brightest fellFor once, everything in October “Toby” Daye’s life seems to be going right. There have been no murders or declarations of war for her to deal with, and apart from the looming specter of her Fetch planning her bachelorette party, she’s had no real problems for days. Maybe things are getting better.

Maybe not.

Because suddenly Toby’s mother, Amandine the Liar, appears on her doorstep and demands that Toby find her missing sister, August. But August has been missing for over a hundred years and there are no leads to follow. And Toby really doesn’t owe her mother any favors.

Then Amandine starts taking hostages, and refusal ceases to be an option. 

Rating: 4/5

I think it speaks to the sheer quality and entertainment value of this series that ELEVEN books in I still eagerly anticipate each installment, and delve into all the short story extras that McGuire blesses us with. Of course, being eleven books in, it also gets subsequently harder and harder to review without giving away plot spoilers from earlier books, but try I will.

We start out with some delightful scenes of domesticity – Toby and her bachelor party, with some acquaintances you’d never believe would belt out karaoke hits on a public stage – but this is Toby’s world, and nothing in it ever fits the definition of what constitutes as ‘normal’. Also, the interaction between Tybalt and Raj when Toby finally makes it home just melted my stone cold heart.

But then, there is a knock on the door. And everything takes a sudden turn for the worse. Mother dearest has come calling – one of the firstborn, far more powerful than Toby, and fairly merciless, like most of her kin. She makes no bones about the fact that Toby is the lesser daughter, living in the shadow of her missing elder sister, August. After the years of mistreatment at the hands of her mother, Toby naturally refuses to help. Bad move. This displeases Amandine, and she takes two hostages, people close to Toby, and refuses to release them until October returns with her missing sister.

No mean feat, of course. It’s not like others haven’t tried to find her in the decades that have passed. One thing that wasn’t clear, at least at this point in the story, is Amandine’s motivation for pitching up at Toby’s door now. Is she just a sadist? Impatient? Knows that October is now powerful enough to perhaps attempt, and even succeed at such a task?

This is as far as I’ll go describing the plot, and leave the rest for you October Daye fans to discover. Suffice to say, she is forced to co-operate, however unwillingly, with a former enemy from her past on the journey to hunt down August, while her usual sidekicks take a backseat in this novel.

I think I get a sense of where the endgame is going – but of course, I could be entirely wrong! I really love how meticulously plotted the series as a whole is – details from earlier books which suddenly reveal their relevance in later sequels.

And while I know that series ultimately have to end at some point, especially because they eventually start to diminish in quality (although McGuire has maintained her form here!), I will still be sad to leave the world of October Daye. I’m overjoyed to know we have at least two more books to look forward to.

Free copy received from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.