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The Winter Long, by Seanan McGuire
Genre: Dark Fantasy
Publisher: DAW
Published: 2014
Review Posted: 1/3/2015
Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: Not Rated

The Winter Long, by Seanan McGuire

Book Review by Joshua Palmatier

Have you read this book?

This is the eighth book in the October Daye urban fantasy series from Seanan McGuire. And the series comes full circle at this point, with a return to some of the questions raised in the very first book Rosemary and Rue.
The premise of the book is that Simon has returned, the man who turned Toby into a fish and left her to die. She lived for fourteen years as a fish before escaping, missing out on her own daughter's life as a consequence. Her story picks up with Rosemary and Rue after her return, and she thought she knew exactly what had happened those many years ago. But now Simon's back, and he has information that will set Toby's world into total chaos . . . and make her face a horrible truth about her imprisonment as a fish and what transpired in Rosemary and Rue.
First off, this novel was good. As I've said before, this series just gets better with each book, so while I thought the first two or three in the series were rough, Seanan McGuire's writing and in particular the plotting and characterizations smoothed out tremendously in the later books. This was in no exception, with a straightforward plot that still manages to take what Toby thought she knew and twist it into a totally different perspective. There were always a few unanswered questions in that first book, even though it felt like it came to a solid conclusion, but we find out (for the most part) what really happened back then and more about the circumstances that surrounded Toby's unfortunate transformation into a fish. So an excellent addition to this series and I fully expect more goodness to come.
I had two issues with this book, the first with the book itself and the second that's totally my fault. First, the book. There are some great turns and twists in this book and for the most part they all make sense once Toby is exposed to what really happened years and even decades ago. She learns more about her mother, about Simon, and about the death of Evening Winterrose that she investigated herself. However, I felt the resolution of the book happened a little too fast and was perhaps a little too . . . easy, I guess. We get the final big revelation, Toby stresses about how to deal with it (and as a reader I agreed it was a huge problem), and then things happen rather fast and its all resolved and all of the stress about it suddenly doesn't feel vindicated. Basically, I think it SHOULD have been harder to resolve. I was convinced it would be harder, and yet it wasn't. This is why I gave the book 4 stars instead of 5.
The other issue is totally my fault: I had expectations going into the book. I'd been told that this book completely changed the series and shifted it into a new direction. That the story completely changes. So I went into the book thinking there would be a significant world shift by the end, that something would happen and the Fae world as it has been established would have to undergo a dramatic shift into something new, perhaps even something more interesting. And this didn't happen. Yes, there was a significant shift in Toby's worldview, in her understanding of past events, but with the resolution of the book being as pat as it was, I don't see that the Fae and their world needs to shift much at all. Toby handled it. Everything can go back to, essentially, what it was. I'm not saying that it will, but it can. (I was thinking something huge would happen, like maybe the roads to the original Fae worlds would somehow be opened, which would significantly change how the Fae lived and dealt with our world.)
In any case, even with those issues, it was still a great read. If you haven't tried the series, I'd recommend it. A little rough at the beginning, but it settles down and there are some great books and stories being told here. Just don't go into the books expecting TOO much, like me. *grin*
Joshua Palmatier/Benjamin Tate
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