Seanan McGuire, 2009
Premise: Half-faerie Toby Daye has been trapped by a spell for 14 years while the world went on without her. When an acquaintance calls her for help, her first response is “no,” but Countess Winterrose is not taking no for an answer, and Toby needs help whether she wants it or not.
I really liked the world a lot: the various courts and aspects of faerie society. There’s no info-dumping, you just glimpse the edges of much larger subjects as they arise. There is one scene that deals with a formal presentation to a ruler, and the writing for that is incredibly beautiful.
I liked Toby (October); she isn’t unique among paranormal/urban fantasy heroines, but she’s snarky and tough and fun to follow around.
My favorite aspect of the book actually is a bit of a spoiler, but I really want to address it. In non-spoiler terms: a common element in many urban fantasy stories is heavily subverted here, giving the book more emotional weight and resonance.
[Spoilers:::: After the prologue, Toby is alone, like many modern heroines - the world seems against her, dark and menacing. But when she’s forced to go to various characters for help, no one is angry with her. Everyone she goes to is either happy to see her, cares that she’s alright, or at least means her no harm. (Okay, one turns out to be the villain, but that’s another part of the story.) There is a whole society of people who are willing to reach out to her, if she’ll only reach out to them. It was a really moving portrayal of how someone can succumb to depression and self-loathing and not even notice until things change, and it’s never directly addressed in the text. :::::End Spoilers]
The villain and all of the minor characters are intriguing and unique. When I’m sad about a minor character’s death because I think the character has potential for more, that’s a positive sign about the writing.
While it doesn’t tread exceptionally new ground, this is an enjoyable start to a series, and a world I’d like to visit again soon.
4 Stars - A Very Good Book