Chimes at Midnight by Seanan McGuire
Synopsis from GoodReads: (WARNING: CONTAINS SERIES SPOILERS!!)
Things are starting to look up for October “Toby” Daye. She’s training her squire, doing her job, and has finally allowed herself to grow closer to the local King of Cats. It seems like her life may finally be settling down…at least until dead changelings start appearing in the alleys of San Francisco, killed by an overdose of goblin fruit.
Toby’s efforts to take the problem to the Queen of the Mists are met with harsh reprisals, leaving her under sentence of exile from her home and everyone she loves. Now Toby must find a way to reverse the Queens decree, get the goblin fruit off the streets–and, oh, yes, save her own life, since more than a few of her problems have once again followed her home. And then there’s the question of the Queen herself, who seems increasingly unlikely to have a valid claim to the throne….
To find the answers, October and her friends will have to travel from the legendary Library of Stars into the hidden depths of the Kingdom of the Mists–and they’ll have to do it fast, because time is running out. In faerie, some fates are worse than death.
October Daye is about to find out what they are.
WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS!!
Ok. With that out of the way…
This book made me very seriously question why I’m still reading this series. That’s not a complete surprise since I have a very up-down relationship with it, but I’ve been hoping that things would be going up as the series is clearly hitting it’s stride. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.
The good: McGuire continues to be the best at depictions of the Fair Folk. I love the infighting, the crazy, the whimsy, the everything. Her world-building – and the expansion of the world to include the Libraries, for example – is top-notch. Seriously, this is probably the main reason I’m still reading the October Daye series.
McGuire’s characters also continue to be interesting and complex, although I’m still not fully sold on Toby.
And, of course, I love that the romance isn’t taking over the plot. It enhanced parts of it, I felt, without taking anything away other than for one scene.
Now, onto the bad: it felt like there were some inconsistencies scattered throughout the book. A character is described at one point as possibly looking guilty, which you would think would trigger warning bells or something. However, since nothing came of it, either this is foreshadowing for a future book or it was foreshadowing for a dropped plot twist. Either way, it’s a bit sloppy on the part of the author and/or Toby.
Secondly, I really disliked powering Toby down now that she’s actually more powered up than she was at the beginning of the series. I didn’t mind the addiction part but I felt that down-grading her, however temporarily, was a cop-out of sorts. The only thing it lead to IMHO was a set-up for a future book given the deal it forced Toby to make with a certain character. Otherwise it mostly just seemed…gratuitous, I suppose. It was probably necessary to make the rest of the plot work, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.
Finally, I just…I’m not getting hooked into the series. That could totally be on me – my relationships with both first-person narratives and Urban Fantasy are hit-or-miss, much like my relationship with this series, which falls into both categories. So, again, this could just be my reading preferences getting in the way of a good series.
I do plan to keep reading, because honestly I’m really curious to see where things are going – especially given some of the cryptic hints both in this novel and in the short story attached to the end of it, “Never Shines the Sun”, a story telling about how the fairy world found Toby when her mom was trying to keep her away from it. But I’m just not clicking with it despite that.
3 stars, reflecting my ‘meh’ feelings.