A Different Kind of Private Eye – The October Daye series by Seanan McGuire

If a book is released as a mass market paperback (the kind sold at grocery stores) I’m most likely going to download the e-version onto my kindle.  It is a decision based on both finance and space considerations.  These purchases tend to be impulse buys, downloaded on a lazy weekend when I want something trashy, and tossed aside after one reading.  There are a few exceptions.

One of which is the October Daye series by Seanan McGuire.  These books are the guiltiest of pleasures: urban fantasies set in a modern day San Francisco densely populated by the races of Faerie.   But don’t confuse  these stories with something put out by  Disney.  McGuire’s world is more closely related to the Brothers Grimm, Celt mythology and the old  ballads that tell of a powerful race of beings referred to as “The Kindly Ones”… in the desperate hopes that they will live up to the name.

October Daye, called Toby for short, is a Changeling (the child of a human father and fae mother).  In the human world she’s a Private Investigator and in the Summerlands, home of the fae, she’s a knight-errant bound to the Duchy of the Shadowed Hills.  Like all good P.I.’s (and knight-errants for that matter) Toby has a tragic past filled with mistakes and regrets that she can’t quite seem to shake.  The endings of these stories aren’t always happy and the successes all come with high costs attached.  McGuire has created a damaged heroine torn between two worlds and unable to find peace in either.  Add a supporting cast of characters with motivations as mixed as Toby’s and you have a winning formula.

It all makes for surprisingly good pleasure reading on beaches and buses.  And while these books are imperfect – Toby sometimes misses the obvious clues and has a bizarre habit of underestimating her powers – they are steadily improving.  A Local Habitation (a locked room mystery) was much better than Rosemary and Rue (written in a hardboiled crime/ noir style).  That pattern should hold true for the third installment, An Artificial Night , which is due out in September.

Rosemary and Rue
Publisher:  DAW  (2009)
ISBN:  978 0 7564 0571 7

A Local Habitation
Publisher:  DAW (2010)
ISBN:  978 0 7564 0596 0

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6 thoughts on “A Different Kind of Private Eye – The October Daye series by Seanan McGuire

    1. It really isn’t your typical fairy tale, at all. But the author definitely did her research – so it hits on all the traditional, if the darker, elements. If you are looking for some light reading that’s a little edgy, I highly recommend it.

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  1. I’ve been planning to check out this series for a few weeks now. Soon as I get through my To Read Pile.

    Incidentally…does the author really say “The Kindly Ones is of Celtic origin or is that just the conclusion you drew? I ask because the phrase and use is actually of Greek origin and was the nice way to refer to the Furies, if one had to at all, in the hopes they would ignore you when you talked about them.

    I ask because if the author’s outright calling it Celtic in origin, rather than just using the Greek habit and applying it (which is all good and interesting), than they’ve lost serious credibility in my eyes and I likely will take the series off my radar.

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    1. Chriss, the fault is mine. I was aware that the Kindly Ones was a Greek name for the fates (I am an enormous fan of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series) – but also knew that the Celts had a similar habit of refering to the Faerie folk as good, kind and fair. But I don’t feel too terrible about mixing it all together. Regardless of original language or region, I feel that the mythological races I was referring to (fates, faeries, etc.) all fulfill the same role – interfering with the lives of humans.

      And I’d like to reassure you that I was actually pleasantly surprised at how much research McGuire has done and incorporated into her series. Obviously she takes some liberties, such as setting her story in modern day Cali, but her foundation is solid.

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