One Salt Sea by Seanan McGuire

One Salt Sea
Seanan McGuire


This is book 5 of a series that I’m a rabid fan of (you know, checking the shelves day of release, making the store order copies so I can have my choice of the nicest looking one, that kind of thing). If you haven’t started this series, I very strongly recommend beginning at the beginning. Here’s the order of release so far:
Book 1: Rosemary and Rue
Book 2: A Local Habitation
Book 3: An Artificial Night –
Book 4: Late Eclipses
**** There may be mild spoilers for earlier books in this review ****

The Premise:  Some time has passed since Toby has survived her latest near-death experience and annoyed the Queen of Mists. Now trouble is brewing with the fae neighbors bordering her Queen’s lands. This time the children of the Duchess of Saltmist, have been snatched up from the waters along the California coast, and a familiar enemy may be behind it. Toby has to rescue these boys soon, before war erupts between the land and the sea.
My Thoughts: Well, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, let me speak yet again of the delicious breadcrumbs left throughout these books. Those readers paying attention get to play a little game of “guess what THAT means”. Keen-eyed readers probably noticed the foreshadowing of this latest brouhaha in the last volume, and had some questions cleared up in this one (although new clues bring new questions). I admit, I’m like a dog with a bone when I have a puzzle to chew over, so that side of me is really happy when reading a October Daye book. I am not saying the puzzles are diabolical, but they are there if you like that sort of thing.
But if you aren’t the kind of reader to obsess over the details, the progression of Toby’s story and her character growth is reason enough to read these books. In One Salt Sea Toby is stronger in a lot of ways.  Her detecting skills and her understanding of the fae has improved so Toby misses less and regroups faster. She is surrounded by allies, so rather than being alone, now she has a posse she can rely on – from her roommate May, teen proteges Quentin and Raj, to Tybalt and other fae friends with useful skills. (And this is a series with well developed side characters. Even Toby’s cats have distinct and lovable personalities). Toby is also beginning to understand her own power, and she’s starting to use it.
All these things make the actual investigation feel much smoother than it has been before. Toby is still herself, but she takes charge in a way that has the force of her recent experience behind it. All of the past books inform on the present book, from the knowledge Toby has gathered to cameos from characters Toby has helped.
Most of the story deals with piecing together what happened to the two missing boys, but Toby’s life is also a big part of the story. There may be a lot of improvements to her life, but she still has a lot to work through. Toby’s mother has hidden things from her, she still hasn’t found the enemy who took twelve years of her life, her love life is a bit messy, and she has a family in the human world who have moved on.  Not all of these issues are addressed in One Salt Sea, but there are significant events that impact some of them. The October Daye series is one where the hero doesn’t have the power save everyone. Knowing that there is the potential for real heartache despite Toby’s best efforts is what makes this series so compelling. One Salt Sea is not alone in having it’s share of shockers and emotional moments, but I felt like I was able to accept them and wonder what effect they will have on the rest of the series.
The next book, Ashes of Honor won’t be out for another yearI got spoiled by the 2 book a year schedule that the October Daye series has been on, but these books are worth waiting for. There are a couple of other series that could tide a fan over.
Team Tybalt: And now a message for those on Team Tybalt. If you are on another team, you may skip this section (is there another team? really?). The thing that worried me the most about this book, especially when I saw the cover (Toby as a mermaid!) was that Tybalt wasn’t going to be in it very much. I was pleasantly surprised to be wrong. Anyone else with the same fears: you can stop worrying.
Overall: Another good one, of course.  I feel like I should just cut and paste what I always say because it applies to every book:  the way these books build upon each other is extremely gratifying and long running story arcs are cleverly integrated with each self contained mystery. I should probably also mention that there’s plenty of wry humor, a cast of three dimensional side characters that grows as the series progresses, and wonderful world-building. I am so addicted.
Buy: Amazon | Powell’s | The Book Depository
Other Reviews:
Fantasy Cafe – 8.5 (out of 10)
Urban Fantasy – positive
Fantasy Literature – 5 stars (out of 5)
calico_reaction – 9 (out of 10) – this review has spoilers

7 thoughts on “One Salt Sea by Seanan McGuire

  1. I really liked this one too. One whole year – sigh…

    Did you see the discussion on Seanan McGuire’s lj speculating about Quentin’s parentage? I was kicking myself for not figuring it out sooner.


    • Quentin’s parentage? No, I missed that! I only pop over there periodically and don’t check every day.. link? I checked there just now but can’t figure out which post you mean!

  2. Pingback: Review: One Salt Sea by Seanan McGuire | Bunbury in the Stacks Review: One Salt Sea by Seanan McGuire | One has the right to Bunbury anywhere one chooses. Every serious Bunburyist knows that. ~ Oscar Wilde

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