Reviewed: March 18, 2010
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: October Daye, Book 2
Rating: 5 Stars
Length: 377 Pages
Formats: Print, eBook
"Giants and witches, fairy-tale monsters...those are for heroes. For everything else, they have people like me." ~October "Toby" Daye
I said it in my review of Rosemary and Rue, the first book in the October Daye series; I tend to not be fond of fae mythos in general because it makes my brain hurt. I also said that I really liked Rosemary and Rue despite it...and despite myself. Well, with A Local Habitation, I may have to stop saying it altogether. I don't know what it is about Seanan McGuire, but she makes me like (if not totally understand) fae mythos. That's pretty darned impressive.
In A Local Habitation we pick up with October "Toby" Daye six months after the events of Rosemary and Rue, and her liege, Duke Sylvester, has called on her to check out the well being of his niece, Countess January, who has fallen off the grid, so to speak, and who rules a small annexed territory between two counties that share hostility for each other. Toby sets out with Quentin, the young noble foster Daoine Sidhe we met in R and R, to find out if January's okay and why she's fallen out of contact with her uncle. Everything they find when they reach their odd and curious destination just begs more questions than it answers, however, and what answers they do find make absolutely no rational sense. Of course, when it comes to Faery, it doesn't have to make sense to kill you - and the things that make the least sense are always the things that kill you the fastest. And that's just another day in the life of Toby Daye, Daoine Sidhe changling and PI.
Old friends and new abound in this book, and much to my delight, the fae world according to McGuire is fleshing out quite nicely...if in mostly terrifying ways. A Local Habitation is a tightly paced, tightly packed, and gut clenching mystery that I found quite a bit more satisfying than even Rosemary and Rue - and that's saying something. Toby is a great character, and I find myself liking her more and more. I completely appreciate a character who isn't ever going to be the strongest, fastest, or best at anything, and in fact, as a changling (half-fae, half-human) straddling both worlds will always leave Toby at a severe disadvantage. But she just keeps on keeping on in such gritty, spirited, kick-butt ways that I have nothing but respect for her.
In A Local Habitation we get to see a more philosophical side to Toby in those rare down times when she's taken a minute to breathe (or recover), and they're intrinsically appealing, because I really started to get a sense both of who she is as a person, and how she thinks. She's the quintessential anti-hero. She knows it, she accepts it, and she likes that about herself. It adds a breath of fresh air to the characterization and makes her a lot of fun to read. And joy of joys, the King of Cats is back, and the scenes between him and Toby literally sing with potential tension. Tybalt keeps doing things that indicate he doesn't feel as antagonistic towards Toby as she has claimed since the beginning, yet she hasn't seemed to notice yet. I just love that about them.
Of course, when Tybalt gets an up close and personal view of Toby's true nature it has an as yet unrealized affect on him, so for all I know things may change. After all, McGuire is not an author to trust if you prefer all main and secondary characters to be treated kindly throughout a series. She's already proven she has no qualms about fully exploring the dark side of urban fantasy. People - even fae - can and do suffer horribly and die, so hold your favorite characters close while you can. This series is a lot like life that way. There are never any guarantees.
Well...except the guarantee of a superb read and a helluva book. Because with the October Daye series, that is absolutely guaranteed.
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