5 Reasons to Read ONE SALT SEA

  1. October Daye’s magic just keeps getting stronger with each book.  Remember waaaayyy back in Rosemary & Rue?  When she got her ass handed to her in every other chapter?  Well… that still happens.  But before, her changeling ex-boyfriend could beat her up.  Now it takes First Borns & an army of goblins with bazookas*.
  2. Two words: Under-water Fae.  Asrai, Hippocampus & Cetace, oh my!
  3. Here’s a pleasant surprise!  We are finally given some back story on The Luidaeg (pronounced ‘the lou-sha-k’), Toby’s super scary First auntie and my favorite character of the whole series!  Cranky, rude, pretty in a creepy-I-eat-roaches-kinda-way – whenever Toby calls (more of a project than you think)The Luidaeg picks up the phone and somehow bails her out.  Except now she’s calling in favors.  And when the Luidaeg asks for help, nothing good can follow.
  4. Let’s talk plot:  The young princes of the Undersea Duchy of Saltmist have been kidnapped.  Unless they’re found there will be war between land and water.  So once again Toby & friends are on a deadline to save the day.  McGuire brings back all the characters and overarching storylines that her fans love.  We learn a little more about Faerie; about fetches & the night-haunts;  Toby’s past shows up in an unexpected way & her love life continues to be complicated.  And did I mention Rayseline is back?  (That can’t be much of a spoiler if you read the other books).  McGuire hints at a resolution to her & Toby’s relationship which on its own is enough to have me impatient for a glimpse at Ashes of Honor (the next book of the series, due out next year).

And the #5 REASON to Read ONE SALT SEA is:

Because you trust me.  If you’re reading this post and have no idea what the hell I’m talking about: buy a copy of Rosemary and Rue.  If you like Urban fantasy, are sick of the paranormal or are looking for escapist fiction that doesn’t follow a formula… One Salt Sea is the book for you.  You just need to read four others first.

Publisher:  DAW Books, New York (2011)
ISBN:  978 0 7564 0683 7

*O.K., I made that up.  The bazookas, not the goblins. 

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Fan Girl Alert! Fan Girl Alert! More October Daye!

Late Eclipses, the latest installment inthe October Daye series by Seanan McGuire comes out tomorrow.  And it looks like we’ll finally find out what the deal is with Toby’s mother Amandine.

I know.  I’m a complete fan girl.  I’m OK with embracing my inner geek.

(And if you’re a friend or family member reading this… don’t even think about calling me after work tomorrow!  My phone will be off until Wednesday morning).

October Daye in September

Brace yourselves, because  I’m about to go all fangirl on your asses.  The newest October Daye novel came out this week, book 3 in the series, and I read it in one great gulp.  Seanan McGuire can do no wrong.   What is so great that keeps me singing this series’ praises?  Despite the fact I stopped reading fantasy in high school and never enjoyed urban fantasy before discovering Ms. Daye?

Well, to begin with, I love how McGuire continues to play with and reinvent old literary formulas. The first novel, Rosemary and Rue is a hard-boiled detective novel in the  vein of Mickey Spillane and Elmore Leonard.  A Local Habitation gives us a who-dun-it that Agatha Christie would have been proud of.  And just when I thought I had  the author pegged as a closet mystery writer An Artificial Night went off on a totally different tack.  It’s a textbook example of the hero’s journey (yeah, yeah – thanks to George Lucas I’m sick of hearing about it too), and it doesn’t just play lip service to Joseph Campbell.  October’s (who answers to Toby) journey is about her understanding and accepting who she is regardless of who she thinks she wants to be… but more about that in a minute.

Every 100 years Blind Michael recruits both mortal and fey children to be the riders and the ridden in his Wild Hunt.  He steals them, twisting them into something that is no longer mortal or fey… and no one challenges his right to do so.  Until he makes the mistake of taking Toby’s adopted nieces & nephew, forcing her to travel the roads of his realm in order to bring them home.

Of course there are rules.  Each road can only be traveled once.  You cannot ask for help, but can take the help that is freely offered. Never look back.  Never trust the Riders.  And whatever you do, never let go of  your candle.

Seanan McGuire has taken the old ballad of Tam Lin and given it a makeover.  Not to be confused with a retelling or reinterpretation.  Instead, like Neil Gaiman (who she reminds me of more and more with each book), she reworks the fairy tales we think we know well and reshapes them for modern use. She changes their meanings, and in the process makes them almost believable.  So we have dryads who inhabit computer networks instead of trees.  Sea witches who like bagels.  A troll who drives a taxi and runs a Barghest rescue. There are pixies congregating around a bug zapper at the local Safeway.  And, as always, a changeling knight-errant who tries to convince herself she’s  a P.I. rather than a hero.

Yet, despite Toby’s being in denial, there’s not doubt in the reader’s mind that she is a hero.  McGuire’s strength is in the way she ties the Fey world to ours.   Making it very clear that being a hero isn’t always easy or romantic. It’s definitely not smart.  And there are repercussions, not just for Toby, but for everyone who cares about what might happen to her.

In addition to how intelligently plotted the October Daye series is as a whole, An Artificial Night is inhabited by a cast of brilliantly realized characters (both new and old)  that are difficult not to get attached to.  May Daye, Toby’s fetch (sent to make sure she is on time for her appointment with death) is entertainingly chirpy and upbeat.   We learn more about the Luidaeg (pronounced lou-sha-k), a Firstborn who seemingly spends her time planning Toby’s demise between their games of Scrabble and chess; and  Quentin, the teenage pureblood Daoine Sidhe (pronounced doon-ya shee…. creepy, right???! Especially when you draw out the sheeeee bit) who for all intents and purposes is Toby’s adopted son (and I suspect her soon to be squire).   Connor & Tybalt also reprise their roles as possible romantic leads – but thank goodness McGuire hasn’t made the mistake of falling into the pit of paranormal romance.  And then there’s the mysterious antagonist of the overarching storyline about Amandine – Toby’s mother and the most powerful worker of blood magic in the Summerlands – who remains a fascinating and frustratingly carrot guaranteed to keep you coming back looking for answers.

It’s pretty obvious I love this series, but even I have to admit that An Artificial Night has some minor problems when compared to the first two books (most of which could have been fixed by the editor).  McGuire has a habit of repeating herself.  For example I don’t need Lily, the Undine who makes her home in the Japanese Tea Gardens, explained to me every time she appears.  Seriously, I got it.  She lives in the Japanese Tea Gardens.  She loves Toby.  She’s a powerful healer.  Remember:  if someone is reading a book clearly labeled as book 3 it’s a pretty safe bet they’ve read the books preceding it.  So please stop telling me that  Toby spent 14 years as a fish.  Or that Connor is married to Raysel (who’s psychotic), or that the Luidaeg can kill Toby at any second…  Instead, let’s get to the good stuff.  Such as:

  • How come Toby sometimes goes all Super-Saiyan powerful with her blood magic, and at other times get’s burned out doing simple illusions (like disguising herself to look human)?
  • Where the hell is Amandine??? How did she go mad and why does she avoid Toby?
  • Why does Raysel hate Toby so much?  Why was she kidnapped and why was she let go? What did her uncle do to her?
  • Are we ever going to actually see Toby’s estranged mortal family in the books (for what it’s worth, I hope no).
  • And why oh why do we have to wait so long for Book 4? A Late Eclipse is due out March, 2011.

Publisher:  Daw Books, Inc., New York (2010)
ISBN:  978 0 7564 0626 4

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Oooh…Books!

Cara at Oooh… Books! was kind enough to invite me to do a guest post on her blog, expanding on my review of the October Daye series by Seanan McGuire.

A little snooping around her archives and I discovered that we have the similar taste in books!  Here’s a few reviews that caught my interest:

  • The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon is an old favorite, and one of the first books reviewed on BookSexy.  It’s always interesting to hear someone else’s opinion.
  • The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe is a book that received a lot of buzz when it was published- though I think I’ll wait for the paperback.
  • Unseen Academicals by Terry Pratchett – Here’s an author I’m ashamed to say I’ve never read. Can you imagine???!  Never Read!  He’s British and has published a gazillion books – I don’t know how I’ve missed him for so long.

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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