Reviewed: January 17, 2012
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: October Daye, Book 5
Rating: 4 Stars
Length: 354 Pages
Formats: Print, eBook
October "Toby" Daye is starting to relax into her life with her stronger body and heightened powers, her queen-appointed position as Countess Goldengreen, and the new awareness of her true heritage. Now that her old beau, Connor, has gotten his marriage to the disturbed Rayseline annulled, she's even enjoying the bennies of a regular sex life. In her spare time she trains with her liege lord, Duke Sylvester Torquill, who's trying to help her not get her butt kicked quite so spectacularly...or so often. He calls it sword training. She calls it torture. All-in-all, though, things are going pretty well for Toby, which, really, should have been the first clue that her life was about to go to hell. Again.
When one of the world's oldest and most powerful beings calls in a few of the favors you owe her for all those savings of your ass, you agree to help, regardless, even though we're not talking about one of those psychologically traumatic but relatively harmless fourteen-years-as-a-fish sort of hell. Nope, this is the-world-as-you-know-it-is-ending sort of hell. A bend-over-and-kiss-your ass-goodbye sort of hell. Someone has kidnapped the two children of the Duchess of Saltmist, the Undersea Duchy, and she and her consort have laid the blame the Queen of the Mists. And declared war on them all.
A war between the immortal races of land and sea would be devastating beyond the potential casualties. It is always a brutal, horrifying affair that reshapes worlds and kill thousands, even if it doesn't spill over into realm of humans. Preventing it is imperative. Finding out who would be so grossly dismissive of Oberon's laws to dare attack children and threaten their lives in such a matter is paramount. Unfortunately Connor, being a kelpie, owes his allegiance to Undersea, and the King of Cats, Tybalt, has been out pussyfooting around for the past several weeks. Toby hasn't even seen him. This time she's on her own.
The Luidaeg is counting on her. The Duchess of Saltmist is conditionally trusting her. The Duchess' sons lives depend on her. The queen loathes her and refuses to listen to her. And the outbreak of war lies in the balance of it all. No pressure. Just another day in the life of Toby Daye.
Toby is back in this fifth installment of the October Daye series. She's a bit like the pink bunny in those commercials that way, what with all the going and going and going she keeps doing. Not that all her goings haven't taken a toll. How could they not? She lives with her death Fetch as a roommate, has a lunatic Firstborn as a mother, and both her boyfriend's former wife and her own queen would happily kill her as soon as look at her. Toby doesn't exactly live what anyone could consider a normal life. It's a hell of a lot of fun to read, though.
This book is a bit more linear and cohesive in plot than some of the others I've read in the series, which is nice. Sometimes the mix of McGuire's incredible imagination and the complexity in the ways in which she stirs up trouble in Toby's life can be a little overwhelming. Or a lot. But as I've gotten more familiar with Daye's world and the various peoples who inhabit it, it's gotten a little easier to follow the labyrinthine plots...and even more rewarding when they're less convoluted, as this one was.
I like Toby. I always have. She's a heroine who isn't the strongest, most powerful creature, but who still gets the job done against unlikely odds at best, miserable odds at worst. She's the most easily breakable of all those she deals with, and even now she's not the best fighter, or the smartest investigator, or even close to being a decent diplomat. She's stubborn, tenacious, and she's got a strong personal code that she lives by. She is, in short, a heroine who is easy to relate to and feel for as she amasses all the bruises, cuts, and broken bones she gets saving her little corner of the world.
Not all was rosy for me in this installment, though. While I thoroughly enjoyed the investigation into the kidnapping of the Saltmist heirs, Toby's personal life annoyed me. I've never been a Connor fan. I've always felt he was a bit of a milquetoast, and its hard for me to respect anyone who would put political responsibility before his heart like Connor did time and again. I have never been able to figure out why Toby would even still want him after doing so.
On top of that, love triangles have never appealed to me, even one as subtle and carefully written as the one between Connor, Toby, and Tybalt. For all the chemistry I've never felt between Toby and Connor, Tybalt and Toby are at the other end of the spectrum. Five seconds in the same hemisphere and they are shooting sparks off each other like two incendiary devices in a fireworks factory. I'm a Tybalt supporter all the way.
I felt there were some odd things about the conflict climax of the plot of this book. There were elements that seemed peculiarly anticlimactic given their significance, some that were overly abrupt, and others that didn't completely track with previously established information. The conclusion of the book, however, was ripe with all sorts of tasty information, answers to questions that have niggled me for awhile, and lots of potential for further development. I can't say that this book was my favorite in the series, but it had many more moments that thrilled me than didn't, and it tied up a few loose ends that I felt had been dangling too long. It was a fully entertaining read that left me highly anticipating the next installment.
I was getting tired of being in an endless succession of things called "the fight of a lifetime." Just once, I'd like to have the fight of a Tuesday afternoon.
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