One Salt Sea (October Daye #5) by Seanan McGuire
Synopsis from GoodReads:
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.
I have some very mixed feelings about this novel, which seems to be the par the course so far for the series.
On the one hand, I’m still loving the mythology. The expansion of the world to introduce us to more water-dwelling fae – plus the mention of sky-dwelling ones! – was wonderfully handled and left me wanting more. And McGuire continues to be on point in her portrayal of the culture and etiquette of the fae, at least as far as what I want to see from them (wonderful and terrifying and insane).
We got to explore and revisit some characters I enjoyed. It’s nice to see Marcia coming into her own in a new place, Danny is always a treat, and even April O’Leary got a brief appearance. And of course all the familiar faces that I love – or love to hate, hello Queen of the Mists – were present and accounted for.
The third thing I liked about One Salt Sea was that we finally answered the question of Whatever Happened to the
Mouse Gillian. I might not be happy about how she was handled – mainly as a plot device – but at least we got to see her and find out how her and Toby’s relationship is going to be moving forward. However I do wish the subplot dealing with her hadn’t contained an inherent contradiction, one that I’m not going into detail on due to spoilers. Suffice it to say, however, that I’ve figured out why it was allowed to happen by the people present but that doesn’t make me any happier.
Another thing I liked was that Toby actually thought in this book. In the first two books, the mystery was fueled by her not thinking. Same with the fourth book, but at least there she had an excuse. Not a great one, but an excuse. Here, we see her thinking things through, exploring options, and talking to people. Mostly in an intelligent way.
Now, my first complaint about One Salt Sea might seem fairly minor to some people, but this is urban fantasy/paranormal romance. So the romance is a decent part of why I’m reading this series. Not the be-all end-all, but decent enough. Now, from book 1 I’ve been calling who I think Toby’s eventual love interest will be. The only questions for me have been a) how is it going to happen and b) how is McGuire going to ‘get rid of’ (in any way shape or form, not necessarily death) the other options?
Well, One Salt Sea dealt with what I would argue were the two remaining real options aside from the guy I’m now 100% convinced she’s going to end up with – Gillian’s father and *SPOILERS*. And I’m not super happy with how it dealt with either of them, but since I wasn’t ever attached to either I’m not devastated or anything.
What I am really upset about, however, is a different complaint. Namely, the climax. A lot was happening and it should have felt like really high stakes because there was a lot at risk. But I just wasn’t feeling it. And neither of the big emotional wham moments hit me with much oomph. They were just…there. I felt a lot more of, well, everything over the little post-adventure epilogue with the Luidaeg than I did over the climax of the novel’s action.
And that’s my main issue with the series. Has been my main issue with the series once I started liking Toby. The climactic moments aren’t what’s making me feel.
Overall, 3.5 out of 5 stars. I liked it, but it didn’t blow me away.