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Advance Book Review: Ashes of Honor by Seanan McGuire

Written by: Beth Woodward, CC2K Books Editor

If someone approached me and asked for a recommendation of an urban fantasy series to get them started into the genre, Seanan McGuire’s October Daye series might very well be the one I start with.  It represents all the things I love about the genre without the things I don’t like.  I have never been disappointed with a book in this series.  Ashes of Honor, the sixth book, is no exception—and, in fact, may be the best entry to date.

The description, courtesy of the Penguin website:

It’s been almost a year since October “Toby” Daye averted a war, gave up a county, and suffered personal losses that have left her wishing for a good day’s sleep. She’s tried to focus on her responsibilities—training Quentin, upholding her position as Sylvester’s knight, and paying the bills—but she can’t help feeling like her world is crumbling around her, and her increasingly reckless behavior is beginning to worry even her staunchest supporters.

To make matters worse, Toby’s just been asked to find another missing child…only this time it’s the changeling daughter of her fellow knight, Etienne, who didn’t even know he was a father until the girl went missing. Her name is Chelsea. She’s a teleporter, like her father. She’s also the kind of changeling the old stories warn about, the ones with all the strength and none of the control. She’s opening doors that were never meant to be opened, releasing dangers that were sealed away centuries before—and there’s a good chance she could destroy Faerie if she isn’t stopped.

Now Toby must find Chelsea before time runs out, racing against an unknown deadline and through unknown worlds as she and her allies try to avert disaster. But danger is also stirring in the Court of Cats, and Tybalt may need Toby’s help with the biggest challenge he’s ever faced.

Toby thought the last year was bad. She has no idea.

At the end of the last book, One Salt Sea, a lot of questions were left unanswered that seemed like they would have a greater effect on the series.  It wasn’t a cliffhanger, but it did leave the reader wondering how it was going to develop in the grander scheme of things.  I thought when I picked up this book, it would immediately jump into those questions.  Instead, McGuire has put them on the backburner for now.  However, the plot is so engaging and moves so quickly that I didn’t feel disappointed by the digression.

When this book begins, Toby is in a bad way.  The events of the last book have left her emotionally battered.  Although a year has passed, Toby is still isolating herself from the people who care about her and taking dangerous chances.

One of the things I love about this series is that it tends to be dark.  Faerie is a dangerous world, and people die.  McGuire is not afraid to “go there” and kill characters Toby—and readers—care about.  But it balances that darkness with hope and possibilities.

Unlike many other urban fantasy series, romance has never been the primary focus of these books.  However, for those fans who do like romance, there has been a slowly-developing relationship between Toby and Tybalt, the local king of the Cait Sidhe.  Fans of the series will be delighted to know that there is a lot of Tybalt in this book, and that Toby and Tybalt’s relationship grows and develops a lot.

I love this series.  I love that Toby is a strong, independent—yet still vulnerable—heroine.  I love that this is a world where people die, where consequences matter.  I love the complex world-building and mythology.  I love the almost film noir tone of the series.  I love that each book leaves me wanting more.

If you dig urban fantasy, this is one of the best out there.  If you’re looking to try the genre for the first time, this series could be the place to start.

Author: Beth Woodward, CC2K Books Editor

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