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Late Eclipses, by Seanan McGuire cover image
Genre
Fantasy
Publisher
Daw
Year Published
2011
Review Posted on
8/25/2013
Reviewer Rating

Reader Rating
9 out of 10

Late Eclipses, by Seanan McGuire
Reviewed by Joshua Palmatier

If you've read this book, why not

This is the fourth book in Seanan McGuire's October Dayeurban fantasy series, about changeling Toby Daye, a knight of the faerie court, who looks into mysteries involving the fae for her liege Duke Sylvester Torquill. I'm enjoying this series, although not as much as I enjoy Seanan's zombie trilogy Newsfleshwritten under her pseudonym Mire Grant.

The premise of this book is that one of Toby's good friend, Lily, Lady of the Tea Gardens, falls sick with a mysterious illness. Intent on finding the cure, Toby finds herself caught up in a much deeper, more deadly plot that involves an old enemy, Oleander de Merelands, one of the two people who was responsible for her fourteen year exile as a fish. It seems Oleander, a faerie fond of poison, has targeted Toby's friends in an insane plot of revenge, including the King of Cats, Tybalt, and his Court, along with her liege. And somehow, Oleander has involved not only the Duke's insane daughter, but the Queen of the Faerie and Toby's estranged mother Amandine as well. Toby must unravel Oleander's plans before her poisons before Lily succumbs to the desecration of her pearl and Oleander targets even more of her friends.

I thought the plot of this particular October Daye novel was the best so far. It was convoluted and dark and deadly and it had consequences that forced Toby to change her perception of herself, literally. Toby in forced to confront herself, her mother, and her heritage as the novel unwinds, even though that was not Oleander's intent. Oleander ends up being the catalyst for other changes as well, including a shifting in the Duke's court, progressing the plot threads involving his daughter and his wife, and brings Toby deeper into the mysterious machinations of faerie politics as well, since the Queen of the Faerie takes an interest. This is the first book where I thought all of these elements--brought up earlier--changed significantly, and all of the shifts stem from Oleander's involvement. None of them felt forced. They were all natural outcomes of Oleander's actions, even if they weren't intended. Basically, I thought this was the most cohesive book in the series in terms of movement, plot, and development of the world and Toby's character.

However, I did have some problems with Toby herself and her actions in the first half of the book. I found it annoying that she acts without really thinking, more or less just bouncing from one place to another without taking the time to stop and think about other options. For example, in one chapter something happens and she is told that she cannot, under any circumstances, go back to the Duke's domain or he will be forced to turn her over to the Queen. The dire results are made abundantly clear. And yet, the moment something happens in the next chapter, Toby is off to the Duke's domain. Not once does she consider not going, even though she was told not to, by her boss, the Duke, hours earlier. She doesn't pause to say, gee, I was told not to go, is there another option here? Could I send someone in with a message? Make a call or two? Send someone else? No, she charges in herself. I wouldn't have minded if she'd considered other options and then discarded them as impossible for various reasons, thus being forced to go herself all risks aside. But she doesn't even consider other options. She doesn't seem to think in the first half of the book. At one point, she's told she herself has been poisoned and that she's been given boosters over the last few days. When Toby learns this, she doesn't stop and ask herself how or who could possibly have gotten close enough to give her the booster shots, thus narrowing down her suspect list. She doesn't think about it at all, really. We are supposed to believe that the poison she's been given has affected her mind and that is the reason she isn't thinking, but she stops and thinks logically about a few other things, so why not this? It seems a natural question to ask once you've been told you've been boosted. And the serious mind effects of the poison don't show up until after this.

So, overall, this book was a mixed bag for me. I really did enjoy the plot, once I got past the halfway point and Toby started thinking instead of just running hither and yon. That initial frustration (even allowing for the possibility of her mind being affected by the poison) was a significant distration for me at the beginning though. As I said earlier, though, once past that point this was the most cohesive books in the series. The plot and its effects on Toby, her relationship to the Duke and her mother, her perception of her herself, and all of the other consequences of Oleander and her actions were spectacular. I love it when the world and characters change during the course of the novel, especially in urban fantasy, where that doesn't seem to happen often. I'm hoping this continues in the next October Daye book. And I'm hoping that Toby stops and thinks a little more often as well.
Late Eclipses, by Seanan McGuire on Amazon

Late Eclipses, by Seanan McGuire on Amazon

Late Eclipses, by Seanan McGuire cover pic



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