Ashes of Honor (October Daye #6) by Seanan McGuire
Synopsis from GoodReads (may contain series spoilers!):
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.
I have some very mixed emotions about this book, which seems pretty par the course for my reaction to this series as a whole. On the one hand, I continue to enjoy the plots and the fae. On the other, I felt there was some serious backsliding in this book compared to the progress Toby made throughout the previous five.
Let’s start with the bad so I can get it out of the way. First, and for me the most minor, was the repetition. Coffee came up pretty much every other page it felt like. I can understand this, because caffeine is a necessity for Toby considering the stress she places on herself (as well as the lack of sleep). I get it. But enough is enough, please!
Second and more importantly, is the idea that Toby is suicidal. Taken in a vacuum, yes, her actions would suggest that. But her actions SINCE BOOK 1 would suggest that, so why are people only now getting worried enough to continually call her out on it? Yes it’s been mentioned previously to some degree or another, but no one other than May really put in the effort to point it out to Toby until now. Since nothing’s changed other than certain losses in her life (at least one of which effected her more than I personally thought warranted given both prior books and a certain romantic climax in this book), I’m not sure why it’s only now that everyone else is suddenly super concerned.
Third, there were times, especially towards the end, when I wondered why the villain was behaving like an imbecile after having been proven to be incredibly intelligent. As a minor example, why on earth would you bind any fae, pureblood or changeling, with anything less than cold iron? There are ways to argue why that was done but I disagree with them considering the main villain’s intelligence and competence.
Finally, as I stated in my review for the previous novel in this series, it’s still not the climaxes that are giving me feelings. McGuire is good at her craft so I’m speeding through them eagerly, but they’re not giving me emotions. The little ‘heart’ moments after them are, and there’s plenty of humor seeded earlier, but I really wish there was more to the climaxes than ‘oh yay beat the bad guys’.
But that’s the bad. On to the good.
By now, if you’ve read my reviews of the rest of the series then you know that I love the way McGuire depicts the fae. And this novel continues that trend. I would argue that when it comes to depictions of the Fair Folk in UF, McGuire is up there with the best, if not the best herself. Not only does she know the mythology – and know when and where to take liberties without alienating readers who know the mythos – but she’s got the attitude down to a T.
The development of both the larger world Toby inhabits and of the other characters who inhabit it continues to grow. Ashes of Honor brought the humans back into focus as well as showing us more of how the Courts of Cats work and that was all to the good as far as I’m concerned. Not only did that allow for McGuire to poke at how she’s moving away from myths with the introduction of a human folklore professor but it also developed some of my favorite characters (Tybalt and Raj) a bit more in regards to their culture and history. Also we got to see new sides to older characters, helping them be more than cut-outs.
Finally, Toby herself continues to grow and change as a person. She’s accepted who she is, given up what she no longer has, and is finally starting to work through some of her problems. We’ll see if she pays more than lip service to some of them, but I have hope that she will continue to move forward as a character.
3.5 out of 5 stars. Not the best of this series but not the worst.