It has been forever since I wrote a post about books. Considering they are technically one of the focuses of this blog, I feel this to be a bit remiss of me. Still, it is a new year, and thus I can sit calmly here and tell myself I’m going to write about at least one book every couple of months.
This month, however, I’m going to write about five. (And not just in case I leave it till October to write another post about them.)
Speaking of October (that wasn’t even a deliberately clever segue, honest!) the series of books that are the focus of this blog are Seanan McGuire’s October Daye books, which I had the good fortune to pick up over Christmas.
Rosemary and Rue
As the first book in the series, I honestly wasn’t sure what I was getting into. I was only sold on it because it promised faerie-related action, and I told myself I need to read more about how other authors are handling the fae, just so I can be sure I don’t tread on too many toes with my own representation of the sidhe and faerie in general in Chains of Memory. The protagonist is October Daye: halfblood sidhe, former private eye, who spent fourteen years transformed into a fish by an enemy, during which life has passed her by. In the process she loses her husband and her daughter to no enemy but time. The first book deals with how she becomes reacquainted with faerie society, and I was genuinely surprised by how much the book grabbed me and pulled me along.
A Local Habitation
It wasn’t until the second book in the series that I really began to be enthralled by these tales. Much like Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files novels, A Local Habitation starts out simply, then quickly catapults the protagonists (and the reader) through a series of twists and turns — some of which seeming to defy logic at first. A couple of the twists in the tale seemed obvious from about halfway through, but they were never laboured, and the strength of the characterisation prevalent through the book draws you on regardless.
An Artificial Night
The third book starts to really expand the mythology of the series, drawing on lore and mythology that is at least passingly familiar to me having done my own research on the faerie. It is admittedly a great relief to me as a writer to know that McGuire’s faerie lore has gone down an essentially different path to mine. She deals with a wider number of types of fae that I only mention in passing, if at all, in my stories. An Artificial Night deals with the terrifying nature of power and how it can twist people over time. Thematically this is something I explore in my own writings, and this story was a triumphant example of how to do that.
The fourth book in the series continues to plunge into the darker sides of faerie society, and also begins to open up and explore the background of the main characters. Now the series has an established foothold, it seems much easier for McGuire to open up these boxes of background. Some of the revelations are genuinely surprising and exciting, but there is still a ton of layered mystery behind many of the proceedings. In fact, the plots in general weave through multiple layers now, making this one of the more twisting tales in the series.
One Salt Sea
The latest book in the series has all of what I would consider the hallmarks of the stories so far: a great setup, high stakes, plenty of banter and lore references, and more character revelations than you can shake a stick at. It would be interesting to know if McGuire has a set number of books for the series — because so far the pacing of story and plot revelations have been exceptional. One Salt Sea was one of those books that I couldn’t put down, though I admit I suspected how at least part of the story was going to end right from the start. Colour me a pessimist if you will. Didn’t stop it from being one of the best books I read last year.
But now it is 2012, which means a whole new year’s worth of books to read. And finish. I desperately need to finish writing my own books. Chains of Time‘s first draft has been sat unfinished for far too freaking long.
Anyways, the October Daye books. Pick ‘em up! I thoroughly enjoyed them and I suspect any readers of urban fantasy out there will too!