The world of Faerie never disappeared; it merely went into hiding, continuing to exist parallel to our own. Secrecy is the key to Faerie’s survival–but no secret can be kept forever, and when the fae and mortal worlds collide, changelings are born.
Outsiders from birth, these half-human, half-fae children spend their lives fighting for the respect of their immortal relations. Or, in the case of October “Toby” Daye, rejecting it completely. After getting burned by both sides of her heritage, Toby has denied the fae world, retreating into a “normal” life. Unfortunately for her, Faerie has other ideas…
The murder of Countess Evening Winterrose, one of the secret regents of the San Francisco Bay Area, pulls Toby back into the fae world. Unable to resist Evening’s dying curse, Toby must resume her former position as knight errant to the Duke of Shadowed Hills and begin renewing old alliances that may prove her only hope of solving the mystery…before the curse catches up with her.
Note: Not a YA novel
I had been hearing about the October Daye series for quite a while, and while the number of books published so far was intimidating, I needed a new adult urban fantasy series to stan. McGuire is already one of my favorite authors thanks to the Wayward Children series and Middlegame, so I was excited to start a fae-themed series from her. Now, the series is about October Daye, a half-faerie (changeling) knight in the court of a Duke, who has just woken up from a 14-year curse where she was turned into a fish; picking up the pieces of your life after a 14 year gap where even your kid is grown-up is a hell of an adjustment, and Toby has all but cut ties with faeries. When a friend of hers gets murdered and with her dying breath entrusts the investigation of her murder to Toby, she has no option but to follow through.
So, firstly, I was a bit confused with the whole time jump thing, and reading it in audiobook didn’t always help in that regard (I can never focus on dates or things like that while listening). The world building, though, is impressive, with the standard fae-hide-in-glamor, but also with the variety of fae and the magic involved. Toby herself is a sort of blood-memory based faerie called the Daoine Sidhe (I got all the spellings for the faerie names wrong, btw, because audiobook lol) and she can taste someone’s blood and tell which kind of faerie they are, as well as ‘ride’ the blood’s memories to see how a person died – I know, that would mean a slam dunk on the case, right? But no, it isn’t as easy as that (though I see how it would really help her investigative work) and she has to do a lot of running around to figure it out. Not to mention, she is also working on her personal relationships, both human and fae, that she had let slide during the time she has been back.
Toby makes for a great protagonist – pragmatic, but also empathetic, her magic and her position have her foot in both worlds. I’m still impressed that she managed to hide her being fae from her husband and child for years, and also holds her position firmly within the fae society despite being a changeling. There is a lot about fae politics and changeling status in this book, so she feels like an apt protagonist to look into this world through. Her interactions with the fae are also quite interesting, be it the changeling’s unofficial boss (who she had a relationship with when much younger, yuck), or the local leader of the Cait Sidhe (I can’t help but say ‘here kitty kitty’ every time Tybalt graces the page lol), or even the Luidaeg. This first installment does well to introduce the world, the characters, the setting and the politics of the world, well, while also balancing a murder mystery in it.