Saturday, December 3, 2011

Review: An Artificial Night

An Artificial Night
An Artificial Night by Seanan McGuire

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

My husband won an ARC of this book from the author, so I was lucky enough to read it before the release date. Sadly, that means I have to wait that much longer for the next one. Late Eclipses doesn't come out until March 2011, and I'm already impatient to read it.

This book introduces May Daye, an exact double only in memory and appearance to October (Toby) Daye. As her name being a spring month might imply, though, she's quite different from Toby. For starters, she may look like a changeling, but she's a Fetch, or a double sent to escort someone to the afterlife, which brings with it her own set of abilities and drawbacks. She never experienced everything Toby did; she only remembers doing so. She has no past of her own, but she does have her very own personality, which quickly diverges from Toby's. By the end of the book, she was starting to remind me of the author, but not in that awful Mary Sue self-insert way. She was charmingly quirky, and likable despite herself.

An Artificial Night has Toby facing off against one of the Firstborn, the powerful early Fae deeply entrenched in the world's mythology. The one she's determined to take down is Blind Michael, leader of the Wild Hunt. If you don't know the story, don't worry; once again, McGuire makes the mythology all her own, bending it in a way that's both faithful to the source, and very creative and new at the same time.

I really like how all of the books in this series are so different. McGuire doesn't plug into a formula and stick with it; she's mixing it up, so that each book could be read and enjoyed all by itself. I don't recommend this, though, because then you'd've missed out on Toby's earlier adventures, and you wouldn't know why all of the characters she interacts with are so important. You'd miss out on watching the relationships develop.

Speaking of, no matter your ship, this book has something for you. Toby doesn't even seem to realize she's getting enmeshed in love geometry, but there are several relationship choices she'll have to make up the line. Each of her suitors makes a strong argument in his (or her) case, without ever asking her to make a choice. This is another reason to look forward to what happens in future books. I generally trust authors to set up a character with who he or she belongs with, but I always have my secret hopes. McGuire has shown throughout these three books that she can be trusted to do right with her characters, even if she likes putting them through the wringer in the meantime.

And Toby really does go through the wringer in this one. There's more than one point in the book where the reader might think, "Oh, that's why the Fetch is here; this can't end well." Toby makes it through several scrapes by the skin of her teeth, and, as in previous books, gets only a few moments to catch her breath. The tension runs high, pulling the reader through a very compelling story. There wasn't so much as a word wasted in the narrative.

Throughout, we get a lot of fun treats. Toby's trademark wit is sprinkled throughout, with a lot of laugh-worthy and quotable lines. Toby gets to show off a little, testing her skill against an opponent even the formidable Luidaeg hesitates to confront. Fans of Tybalt (and yeah, I'm one) will find plenty of scenes to enjoy his tomcat charm.

If you've been reading the Toby Daye series, pick this up. If you haven't been, and you like urban fantasy, well, why the hell not? It's a wonderfully original take on fairy tales and myth in modern day, and I highly recommend it.

I once remarked, sort of offhand, that Seanan McGuire is a future NYT bestseller, that it was only a matter of time. I'm also a huge fan of Charlaine Harris, but I think these are better than the Sookie Stackhouse books. If nothing else, they're on par.

View all my reviews
Previous books by Seanan McGuire reviewed by me:
A Local Habitation

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