Saturday 17 December 2011

CBR3 Book 101: "A Local Habitation" by Seanan McGuire

Publisher: Daw
Page count: 400 pages
Rating: 4 stars
Date begun: December 1st, 2011
Date finished: December 3rd, 2011

A Local Habitation is the second book in the October Daye series, and while it will make sense on its own, I would recommend reading the books in order.

October "Toby" Daye is a changeling, half human and half faerie. Unlike many other changelings, her magical abilities are quite weak, and it takes most of her energy to just maintain the glamour to hide her faerie appearance. She does, however, possess the same blood magic as her mother, enabling her to read a faerie's whole life in a drop of their blood. This helps her when she's working as a private detective, specializing in helping changelings and faeries. She's the only changeling faerie knight, and always feels like an outsider, but swears fealty to the Duke of the Shadowed Hills. So when he calls her and asks her to go to  the little county of Tamed Lightning, to check up on his niece, she can't really refuse.

Along for the trip comes Quentin, a young faerie fostering with Duke Sylvester, who's in training to become a squire. Toby believes the visit will be a brief one, but once she arrives in the little faerie county, it quickly becomes obvious that something is badly wrong. In the interchangeable corridors of the strangest IT company you'll encounter, the employees, all faeries or changelings, have been dying. Most of the staff have left, afraid that they'll be next. Duke Sylvester's niece, January, has been trying to contact her uncle for weeks, but none of the calls get through. As people keep dying, Toby and Quentin have to try find the murderer before January and her core staff get killed too.

I enjoyed the book, but Toby really doesn't strike me as that good a detective. She mainly stumbles around, nearly getting herself killed a lot, and more or less found out the identity of the killer through a process of elimination. When there are barely any people left in the company, one of them is pretty obviously going to be the killer.

The relationship between Toby and Quentin is an interesting one, and I'm assuming that McGuire is establishing a friendship that will lead to him becoming her squire in some future book. He's very eager to learn from her, sheltered and innocent in many ways, being a full blooded faery, who's not experienced the human world as much. My favourite character, Tybalt, a cait sidhe (cat faery) also makes an appearance. Toby is confused by his enigmatic behaviour, as before the events of the last book, he used to be deeply antagonistic towards her, and now he's positively friendly, and even quite protective of her. Whether this is just because she owes him a debt, and he wants to keep her alive until it's repaid, is uncertain.

So far, the October Daye series doesn't grip me as much as several other paranormal fantasy series that I'm following, but McGuire has created a very interesting world. While the stories don't always compel me as much as those of Ilona Andrews, Patricia Briggs or Nalini Singh, the cast of characters and skillful world building is enough to keep me curious to see how things develop, and I will keep reading them for a while yet. Reviews of future books on the internet seem to imply that the series gets better as it progresses, and that bodes well.

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