Book Review – An Artificial Night

Title: An Artificial Night

Author: Seanan McGuire

Format: eBook

Year Published: 2010

An Artificial Night is the third Toby Daye book, and a heart-wrenching ride from start to finish. Somebody is stealing children, both Fae and human, and the children of some of toby’s best friends are taken. In order to get them back, she must travel into a magical realm reachable only by three roads, and where dangers rest round every corner.

Toby is sharper in this book than she had been in the previous stories – the mistakes she makes aren’t ones that make you want to shake her, and even when events get the best of her, you mourn with her, rather than have a little voice going “well, it’s nothing more than you deserved” in the back of your mind. (Or is that just me?)

Not only does Toby have to find the missing children, she has to face the fact that her Fetch – the harbinger of her death, has shown up and made herself comfortable in Toby’s life. While in some cases this makes her reckless, it’s not something that is maddening – every mistake has a base where you can see how the decision was made. And the ending feels satisfying and well-earned – it doesn’t come cheap or easy, but it is what needed to happen.

(One of the things that this was story does is set up threads that are paid off several books down the line – in looking it over again, I see how the seeds have been sown. Some of these are ones that I enjoyed – others, not so much.)

Quentin remains one of my favorite characters – he’s a teenager, but he behaves believably not only as a teen, but as one who is growing up and maturing.

May, Toby’s Fetch, is a fun character – a glimpse of who Toby could possibly have been if all of the tragedies in her life hadn’t happened. even though her role should have been clear-cut, she’s allowed a chance to grow and develop over the course of the book.

Overall, a very good book.4 /5 stars.

Advertisements

Book Review – A Local Habitation

Title: A Local Habitation

Author: Seanan McGuire

Format: Paperback

Year Published: 2010

The second of the Toby Daye series, A Local Habitation sends Toby out of San Francisco to Fremont, CA to check on her liege’s niece. Toby is sent off with Quentin, a teenaged foster at Lord Sylvester’s, as her backup.  What they discover when they get there is death – not only death, but murder, and suddenly Toby must figure out what is going on, before she’s next.

This book has a different feel than Rosemary and Rue does – while Toby is run ragged (again), she’s clawing her way out of her depression finger by finger, and therefore things seem less to happen *to* her, and more like she’s actively inciting them. (But, once again, how many times can one character get “mortally” wounded? Although in this case, that actually becomes part of a plot point.)

The murder/mystery part of the plot is hard for me to explain, as it doesn’t really follow any kind of “investigating” really on the Toby’s part – at least, not according to all the detective stories I’ve read over the years. She stumbles on the answer almost by accident – or at least, until she can’t ignore the clues anymore.

I didn’t enjoy this book necessarily as much as I’ve enjoyed others of the series, and some of that was the character of Alex, as Toby seemed to ignore all the hints about who his was until far too late – I called it early on. (Not necessarily his heritage, but the other big secret he had.) So every time there was a scene with him, I wanted to shake her.

On the flip side, I did like April – the Dryad daughter of January, who now has a tree made up of a computer and as such, has a very different outlook to everything that’s happening.

I also loved that Toby called the night-haunts – creatures that “eat” Fae bodies and leave behind human-simulations for the humans to find and see. It sets a up plot events for the future, and it also is exactly the kind of reckless action we expect her to take.

Plus it’s a great scene.

Overall, not my favorite book, but certainly an enjoyable read. 3/5 stars.

Book Review – Rosemary and Rue

Title: Rosemary and Rue

Author: Seanan McGuire

Format: Paperback

Year Published: 2009

Rosemary and Rue was the very first Seanan McGuire book I tried to read, and as I’ve said before, I slammed hard against the first-person POV and couldn’t finish. But since I’ve been blazing my way through her other books, I decided to give it another try.

This time it grabbed me and I raced through it. Overall I enjoyed it, though there were some quibbles I had that are probably my own personal hang-ups. (Full disclosure here: the only one I have not read at this point is Once Broken Faith.)

The story starts with October “Toby” Daye, changeling and Knight, on the hunt for her Liege Lord’s wife and daughter, before she gets turned into a fish and looses fourteen years of her life.

And that’s just the start of Toby’s adventures. Staying as far away from the world that cost her the daughter she loves dearly, Toby is dragged back in when a friend is killed and casts a curse on Toby that forces her to investigate the murder, or die herself.

The force of the curse is, truthfully, what pushes the story through at what is really a breakneck paces. Some of that is warranted – Toby would never go back into the world of Faerie of her own volition – but it does create a book where it feels like Toby never gets a break.

One of the things that this brutal pace does is to put Toby in mortal danger multiple times – but truthfully, how many times can she almost die in one book? After the first couple, suspension of disbelief is slim. (It doesn’t help, mind, that I knew that there were 9 more books.)

The romance is heavy in the book, too, with Toby going between two old lovers, with a third (though this is  more subtext than anything) hanging in the wings. Of the three, though I’m pretty sure I’m supposed to like Connor, he’s the one I felt the most unfavorable toward – I don’t like people who cheat, and his actions made it obvious it was only his respect for Toby that prevented him from cheating on his wife. (Who is, yes, evil, but my opinion still holds.)

The author ties up the story with skill, pulling little hints here and there that play off big later (and, minor spoilers, play off much later in the series). It took a while to suspect the Big Bad, and his ending felt satisfactory.

A strong start to a strong series, 3/5 pages

%d bloggers like this: