Friday, September 7, 2012

Review: Ashes of Honor by Seanan McGuire

Ashes of Honor
Ashes of Honor by Seanan McGuire

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved it.

This is the sixth book in the October Daye series, and there was a year between this one and the publication of the last book, One Salt Sea. I'd hate to say the wait was worth it, lest it encourage the publisher to torture us every time, but we already know The Chimes at Midnight doesn't come out for another year.

In this book, October (Toby) Daye is hired by Etienne, the knight who trained her, to find his changeling daughter. Chelsea is a teleporter, and Toby quickly realizes that her changeling blood means she doesn't have the limits of a pureblood Tuatha de Dannon. Translation: she's getting into parts of Faerie that have been locked away, and they were locked for a reason. If Toby doesn't find Chelsea, domains may start to collapse. And suddenly, it seems someone may be using her powers for their own gains.

We meet Duchess Riordan this book, who we'd heard about way back in book 2, A Local Habitation. For someone so imposing and aggressive, her initial introduction sure charmed me. But then her actions speak up, loud and clear, about why she deserves her reputation.

In addition to Chelsea, we also meet Bridget, her mother, a folklore professor at Berkeley. She's human, but no less imposing for her lack of magic. Her initial introduction has her threatening Toby with a cast iron frying pan. She's halfway panicked about losing her daughter, but still manages to show the intelligence and resourcefulness that would've made Etienne notice her in the first place. I found myself looking forward to reading more of her, and speculating if I'd get to.

We also meet Li Qin, widow of January O'Leary and luck manipulator. Her magic comes in handy, but it also becomes clear why she doesn't always use it.

Meanwhile, we learn more about Tybalt's past and his motivations, Toby tests the limits of her fast healing ability, we find out how delightfully snarky Jin (Sylvester's resident healer) can be, and things that have been building since book 1 come out in the open. I was most pleased with the resolution of one subplot that I know has been driving a lot of readers crazy. If you're one of the readers who cares about that subplot, I don't see you being able to put this down past page 200 painlessly.

I don't know how Seanan McGuire writes in a way that forces you to slow down during the slow build, and then paces it breathlessly for the last third so you can't imagine stopping, but I'm determined to find out, even if I have to read this book 20 times.

The book ends with a reference to an early scene in Rosemary and Rue, with Toby and Tybalt caught out at dawn together. It was a beautiful ending, and could've been a satisfying wrap-up to the entire series. Thank goodness it's not. I'm looking forward to the next book like crazy.

If you haven't picked these up from my prior recommendations, well, now you have to get through 5 other books before you can get to the awesome of this one. It's hardly punishment, but it will take time. And it's your own fault. I told you to read them.

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