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Reviews of books in a series, with a focus on urban fantasy.
Other genres include mystery, paranormal romance, and crime thrillers.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

An Artificial Night (October Daye Book 3) by Seanan McGuire

The first book in this series, Rosemary and Rue, received a 9 of 10 from me. The second book, A Local Habitation, received a 7 of 10. Seanan McGuire has hit a home run with An Artificial Night, as it's easily a 10 of 10.

An Artificial Night is one of those books that you won't be able to put down once you make it past about a third of the way through, so plan accordingly. And there are some serious series arcs that are set up in this book that make me want the next book now. Next week at the latest. Unfortunately, Late Eclipses won't be released until March 1st.

That doesn't mean there is a cliff hanger, because this book gets all neatly wrapped up with a pretty bow. When the book ends, you are ready for it to end. But there are a couple of subtle hints throughout the story that are setting us up for some major future unveilings, I think. Sorry to be obtuse, but I don't want to give spoilers. There is an excerpt for Late Eclipses at the end, and we see a dream sequence that pretty much verifies the hints and bits of foreshadowing from An Artificial Night.

One thing I think I can ponder about without giving a spoiler... who arranged for May? Once May arrives Toby points out that "... They’re incredibly rare, and most people don’t get one. I  certainly never requested the honor."  So... who requested it? There has to be a lot more to that story than meets the eye.

Here's the blurb:

Changeling knight in the court of the Duke of Shadowed Hills, October “Toby” Daye has survived numerous challenges that would destroy fae and mortal alike.

Now Toby must take on a nightmarish new assignment. Someone is stealing both fae and mortal children — and all signs point to Blind Michael. When the young son of Toby’s closest friends is snatched from their Northern California home and his sister falls into a coma-like state, the situation becomes way too personal. Toby has no choice but to track the villains down, even when there are only three magical roads by which to reach Blind Michael’s realm — home of the legendary Wild Hunt — and no road may be taken more than once. If she cannot escape with all the children before the candle that guides and protects her burns away, Toby herself will fall prey to the Wild Hunt and Blind Michael’s inescapable power.

And it doesn’t bode well for the success of her mission that her own personal Fetch, May Daye - the harbinger of Toby’s own death — has suddenly turned up on her doorstep….

As for writing elements: The plot was excellent. Better than excellent, it was... stupendously ingenious. It drew from several old mythologies, lots of faerie tales, and even those nonsensical nursery rhymes from childhood. Equal parts horror and fascination, it ties in perfectly with people we've met in earlier books, making the world of Toby McGuire come alive, anchoring it into our reality to make it seem even more fantastically real.

The pacing in the book matched the events. By that, I mean that Toby had to have been beyond exhausted by about halfway through the book, and as a reader, I felt a bit the same way. And there were times that -- when it really would have been an excellent place to end the book, and there was still lots more to go -- that I really didn't want to go on. I think Toby felt the same way. I mean, really, at almost halfway through the book it would have made a very good ending, but the story wasn't finished yet. Whether we wanted it to be or not, didn't make it so.  So while part of me feels the need to point out that the pacing had issues, that's really not true: The pacing matched the story. It isn't always an easy story, and the pacing matches. I think.

The prose is beautifully done. The world of Faerie is brought alive with words in a way that occasionally makes me stop and read through a paragraph again, just for the sheer beauty of it.

The dialogue is also skillfully done, with equal measures of serious and smart-ass thrown in for good measure.

Character development is well done, and world-building is, well, it's one of the best described worlds after three books that I believe I've encountered. It's up there with Meredith Gentry's world, or Kate Daniel's world. The level of detail given to the world building, details that have a bit of a basis in our reality, just enough to make you think... maybe... that kind of detail is missing in many better known Urban Fantasy series out there.

The book rating for An Artificial Night  is easily a 10 of 10. Series rating was an 8 of 10 after the last book, and I'm taking it all the way to a 10 of 10 after An Artificial Night. The book was really that good.
  • Book Rating: An Artificial Night : 10 of 10
  • Series Rating: 10 of 10

1. Rosemary and Rue
2. A Local Habitation
3. An Artificial Night
4. Late Eclipses
5. The Brightest Fell
6. Ashes of Honor
7. One Salt Sea
8. The Winter Long


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