The Winter Long by Seanan McGuire
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is the eighth book in the October Daye series. I actually skipped ahead to this one because I'd heard so much about it, and despite my not having read some of the previous books in the series, it doesn't disappoint. Seanan McGuire has a nice, flowing prose style, with little to no infodumping, and does very well at revealing only what you need to know at any given moment. This avoids slowing the story down, and inspires trust in the reader. You know the twists are coming, but in the meantime, you've got a bang-up story to enjoy.
What's outstanding here, however, is the worldbuilding, the characterizations, and the relationships. The world of Faerie existing concurrently with our modern world is a staple in urban fantasy, to the point of become cliche, unfortunately. However, few urban fantasy writers dive as deep into Faerie as McGuire. (I would say the only author to match her is Laurell K. Hamilton, but Hamilton's Faerie is much more pornified.) Toby's world is rigorously thought out and explored, with all its implications and potential (and real) nastiness. (Such as the racism exhibited towards changelings, for example.) This is a world that has left a deep mark on its protagonist, a world where Toby has suffered and has the scars to prove it.
Toby herself, as the central character, is just lovely. She's deeply loyal to her friends, and if in the past she had a habit of charging off half-cocked, she's making a conscious effort to slow down and think. She's also working on accepting help from other people, in particular her boyfriend Tybalt. The foundations of her relationships and family--both her blood family and her found one--are dragged into the open and examined here, and like everything to do with family, the results are sometimes messy. Not all hurts can heal, and not all things can be forgiven. All of these little ins and outs of the people in this book are fascinating, and (as so many people have said) the Luidaeg is a delight. She can scare the piss out of Toby, and does, but Toby loves her anyway, and does something for her that will obviously have major repercussions going forward.
This book is smartly plotted and paced, and very satisfying. Urban fantasy, as a genre, is not as popular as it used to be, and for good reason: in past years, the market was glutted with it, and a great deal of it was not so great. (I know, as I read quite a lot myself.) But this series is superior, and definitely a keeper.
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