One Salt Sea by Seanan McGuire
Series: October Daye #5
Published by DAW
Published on: September 6 2011
Genres: Urban Fantasy
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October "Toby" Daye is finally doing all right—and that inevitably means it's time for things to take a turn for the worse. Someone has kidnapped the sons of the Duchess Dianda Lorden, regent of the Undersea Duchy of Saltmist. To prevent a war between land and sea, Toby must not only find the missing boys, but also prove that the Queen of the Mists was not behind their abduction. She'll need all her tricks and the help of her allies if she wants to make it through this in one piece.
Toby's search will take her from the streets of San Francisco to the lands beneath the waves. But someone is determined to stop her—and whoever it is isn't playing by Oberon's Laws. As the battle grows more and more personal, one thing is chillingly clear. When Faerie goes to war, not everyone will walk away.
These books . . . GAH.
Escalation is a hard thing to maintain in a series. Every new installment (hopefully) raises the bar higher, every foundation laid that comes to fruition, every sign of affection between love interests, etc.
An exceptional author maintains the slow burn of the myriad elements in such a way that her readers are captivated.
Seanan McGuire is one such author, and OCTOBER DAYE is one such series.
I’ve always loved the idea of an entirely separate world living on top of our own, if we only had the eyes to see it, and that’s exactly the kind of world October lives in.
Before ONE SALT SEA, these places existed on land: the beach entrance to the Court of the Mists, Sylvester’s Shadowed Hills duchy in Paso Nogal Park in Pleasant Hill with its glass rose garden, Goldengreen at the San Francisco Art Museum that somehow thinks it belongs to the bogeys and pixies, etc.
This time we go deeper . . .
*hums ‘Under the Sea’*
But faeness isn’t limited to the fantastical backdrop in which it lives. No, it’s full to bursting with equally strange and amazing creatures:
They ranged from the expected Merrow and Sirens to stranger things, women with the lower bodies of octopi instead of the standard Merrow’s tail, men with slick, blue-black skin and the smooth fluidity of eels.
So there’s that. *continues to hum ‘Under the Sea’*
I’ve told you plenty about October in previous reviews, so this time I’m sticking to a few of my favorite secondaries.
May pretty much freaked us all the hell out when she showed up wearing Toby’s face and announced she was her very own death omen, but fae are tricksy creatures and masters at finding loopholes . . . Which explains why she’s still around three books later, while October remains very much alive.
And we love her, despite our inauspicious beginning, b/c she’s freaking hilarious. Like when she shows up with Quentin to observe October’s sword practice with Sylvester:
“Let’s see some carnage!” hollered May, pumping her fist in the air.
PS – any questions you may (HA!) have had in regards to the origin of fetches are answered in this installment. FYI.
The King of the Cait Sidhe is more than just a ridiculously sexy face who seems to have a growing affection for our heroine, he’s also very, very wise.
On the topic of war:
“. . . most of the ones who come when the call goes out won’t have ever fought a war before. They’ll come because they think it’s honorable, or because they want to be called heroes. They’ll show up in their pretty armor, and they’ll litter the battlefield like leaves.”
So also, he’s maybe a poet. *swoons*
The instant I met the Luidaeg (Lou-sha-k, Lou-sha-k, Lou-sha-k . . . ), I knew I liked her, but that like has grown into LOVE.
She’s probably my favorite character, period. It’s all that dark and twistiness, I think.
On the topic of warmongering amongst the fae:
The Luidaeg once said, in a moment of particularly black humor, that nature made us territorial and temperamental because otherwise we’d have overrun the world within five generations.
But in ONE SALT SEA a piece of her puzzle is revealed that is absolutely heartbreaking: View Spoiler »
“One of my sisters betrayed me. She put knives in the hands of humans and told them to kill my children, because it would make them immortal.”
« Hide Spoiler
*weeps* *WAILS* *gnashes teeth*
The only thing I can say about that is, please, please, don’t let the sister who betrayed her be Amandine . . .
So many Important Things happen in ONE SALT SEA that I’m loathe to give any of the surprises away, but I can say that this installment clearly identifies several future hurdles for our heroine AND what might ultimately be the End Game.
The few I can discuss without spoilers are:
1. As frustrating as it is, the purebloods appear to have a good reason for frowning on interspecies marriages:
“Mixed blood can be unstable, depending on how distant the mix is. If two of Daddy’s descendants hook up, it doesn’t really matter what bloodline they’re from. If one of them decides to get it on with one of Mom’s descendants, well. There’s the potential for a lot of crazy.”
“Like changeling madness?”
“Exactly like changeling madness.”
Which creates issues not only for Toby and Tybalt and/or Connor, but for Toby and ANYONE.
So that sucks.
2. Creepy clairvoyant Roane is C R E E P Y:
The Roane woman gave his arm another reassuring pat.
“There, there, my lovely one. She’ll steer you sure enough. Just never let her near the silver. Line of thieves, hers is, and they’d rob even royalty blind.” She turned a mad, serene smile on me. “I know you’ve not stolen half a heartbeat from a stolen child as yet, but you will, given time. You will.”
I’ve no idea what that (or any of the similarly incomprehensible things she said) means, but I suspect it’s not good.
There are numerous other points of interest as well—I want to see the Cloud Kingdom, and I want to see it NOW—but it all boils down to this: OCTOBER DAYE rocks my socks off, and if you love urban fantasy and haven’t already read it, you’re doing yourself a major disservice. ONE SALT SEA joins the ranks of Best UF Installments Ever along with stellar books like Magic Bites and Bitten. Highly recommended.
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