Ahh, October Daye. This is one of my favorite series, and each time I read a book, I want to read the next one right away.
Late Eclipses is the fourth book of the series:
Book 1: Rosemary and Rue –
Book 2: A Local Habitation –
Book 3: An Artificial Night –
**** There may be mild spoilers for earlier books in this review ****
The Premise: Toby has had barely any time to settle down after the events of the last book when she is ordered to appear before the Queen of the Mists, and since Toby has annoyed the queen before, this request sounds like trouble. Soon after that she receives news that Lily, her friend and The Lady of the Tea Gardens is sick. When more people are stricken, it becomes apparent that Toby and all that she holds dear are a target. When Toby detects the scent of an old enemy, Oleander de Merelands, in the wind, she thinks she knows what’s going on. Unfortunately, things are never simple for Toby, and this time she may have very few options to save both her friends and herself.
My Thoughts: When I think about the October Daye series, I think about structures that are built piece by piece and brick by brick. The first book, Rosemary and Rue was the cornerstone, and every subsequent book has built upon that. It’s not just the worldbuilding (where there are pockets of worlds through secret doorways and fae creatures live parallel to the ordinary world – love it), but the way Toby’s back story has informed and continues to inform the current plot. This is why I don’t recommend reading this series out of order (it can be done, but it wouldn’t be as much fun); without the first books, the places Toby has been and people she has met wouldn’t be as significant in the current story.
I love how there are always hints throughout the books about Toby and her situation. It’s like some kind of delicious game between the reader and the writer. I try to guess what’s coming, I spend time mulling over what happens in the books and what some remarks may mean, and I wait for the next book. Then I’m either rewarded by being somewhere in the ballpark or I’m completely and utterly wrong. In Late Eclipses I was happy to have some of my suspicions answered, but not the way I expected. Of course I can’t speak of it here, but let’s just say that it is good stuff. In fact, this book manages to be the best in the series so far because of all the revelations within. It’s not unusual in urban fantasy to find a main character that investigates otherworldly crimes, but the guessing games set this series apart.
In Late Eclipses the newest disaster is a mysterious sickness which strikes Toby’s friends (friends who cannot get sick), right when Queen of the Mists begins her machinations involving Toby. As usual there’s a lot of action and Toby spends much of the book breathlessly running from one place to the next in an attempt to stop bad things from happening. In the past Toby gets knocked around quite a bit. This book is no different, even with Toby making smarter decisions and with friends backing her up. I was at the edge of my seat, mentally yelling at Toby to watch out because it seemed like someone was out for her in particular. There was more of an anticipatory feeling throughout this book than in the past because it wasn’t as simple as finding a murderer. This felt like a conspiracy.
I was expecting characters that until now have been off the page to finally show up (not a spoiler, since this is on the back blurb), but Toby has many more allies now than she did when the series started. They rally around her, even when it could result in adverse consequences for them. I really like that Toby’s circle of friends has grown over the course of the past three books, and it’s very touching to see the rewards of her being her usual Hero self.
The side characters in this series are great, and we get to learn a little bit more about them in Late Eclipses, especially Toby’s Fetch, May, and her liege, Sebastian. There’s also some new information about people who don’t love Toby, including Raysel. The only problem I had with the characters was that I noticed there were a lot of them who hate Toby for failing as a Hero. It was odd for this motivation to pop up repeatedly, but before I got too perturbed by this, the characters differentiated themselves from each other, making the observation moot. Your mileage may vary on this pattern.
Of course one of my favorite secondary characters is Tybalt, King of the Cats. I’m always hoping that there will be romance between him and Toby. The romance in this series is never in the foreground, but there are some interesting developments here. I think fans of both Tybalt and Connor will be happy with how things go in this book. It does complicate things for the next one though. I was already looking up the release date for the next one, One Salt Sea while I was midway through Late Eclipses (September 2011).
Overall: If you are an urban fantasy fan, you should read this, but don’t stop at the first book, because the overarching storyline builds up as the books go along. It is rewarding to keep reading the series – if I think over what was revealed in this book, I become positively gleeful. I need to run out and find someone who has read it so we can discuss. To me, this series just gets better and better, and this is the best installment yet.
Buy: Amazon | Powell’s | The Book Depository
Fantasy Cafe – 8.5 out of 10
Scooper Speaks – positive (“the bom-diggity-dog”).
Lurv a La Mode – 5 scoops (out of 5)
All Things Urban Fantasy – 4 out of 5
Fantasy Literature – 4 out of 5
Great review! I’m so glad you loved this one, too, and I completely agree it is the best one in the series because it is so very rewarding. I loved all the revelations and seeing what the deal was with so many of the parts I was curious about! It’s a good thing we don’t have to wait a long time for book 5.
Yup yup, the reveals made me happy in this one. I still want to know more, but I’m happy we learned some things. Very glad McGuire is so prolific.
Yes, there’s still a lot more to be curious about! But then, I guess I don’t really want to know everything at once. I think we learned a good amount in this book – there was enough to be satisfying with enough left to wonder about to keep it interesting.
Seanan McGuire does a great job writing urban fantasy books in which the heroine is often in a fae environment. I think that is part of her lure…the way she can combine/update the classic fantasy hero’s journey into a modern tale of survival. Great review!
I really love her world building, that’s for sure. That was the first thing that got me about this series, and then the plot began to snare me. It all makes me happy. 🙂
Your review pushed me over the edge: I just checked out the first three books from the library. I need a good new (to me) urban fantasy series to sink in to – I hope this ends up being it!
It’s worth reading past the first and second books to get into it. I know someone who became a believer after she got more into the series. She loves it now. *nudge*
No nudge necessary! 🙂 I started and finished the first book last night and have promptly moved on to the second. Tell me though: I quite like Tybalt. Is that going to be a problem? (Because I really don’t want it to be a problem. *worries*)
Everyone likes Tybalt. EVERYONE. I don’t think there is another team. So if liking Tybalt ends up being a problem, I think there will be an uprising. Seriously. Anyway, so far liking Tybalt has been good.
I finished this one! Want to discuss? ‘Cause I’d love to. 🙂
Wow, you are fast. Soo.. Tybalt in this one, right? Did you squee a little?
Oh, yes. There was squeeing. And a lot of rereading of certain scenes/lines. (And I have questions, thanks to his propensity for half-said things and mid-talk lines.)
I’m also so, so happy that Raj was in this one. I hope he becomes a recurring character.
Honestly, I’m still thinking about what one of the reveals means. I got the overall impact, but not, I think, the nuances.
I meant mid-talk change of direction. Jeesh.
ME TOO. I reread bits with him in them and then say to myself WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?! Ahhhh. The part in the beginning at the ball had me in a mini-fit, but then other stuff happened and then I was like: WHAT. And then.. ahhh! You know?
Right. Exactly. The reveals always make me think that I think I know what it means but there could be more. I also am left wondering about The Seawitch at the end of this one. She said a lot of mysterious things and it’s killing me. I’m certain we’ll understand more in the next book.
I do know. 🙂
One such moment for me was in An Artificial Night right after Toby stepped in on Julie’s behalf, and then Raj helped her make her point with Tybalt. He was going to say something other than what he did say, and there are so many possibilities for the word he actually wanted to use. And that’s just one example! (Something Oleander said in this one is really frustrating me. Grrr.)
And yes to what the heck was up with The Seawitch?!
I don’t want to include spoilers, but there are a few things I’m itching to puzzle out with someone. (And I actually really love when that happens.
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