May 27, 2019

Hugo Reading 2019: The Brightest Fell

The Brightest Fell The Brightest Fell by Seanan McGuire
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The October Daye series is a good example of an author's evolution, and giving the author room and time to improve. The first book, Rosemary and Rue, released in 2009 at the start of the urban fantasy craze, is serviceable enough, and perfectly adequate. It is not outstanding. But keep reading the series, and you can trace the author's improvement in craft, prose, characterization and plotting. One of the greatest pleasures in reading this series, in fact, is how the seeds carefully planted in the earlier books spring to surprising and/or noxious life in the later ones.

The main character has changed a lot over the course of the series. Toby once wanted to be human, or as human as possible for a part-Fae changeling; now she embraces her Fae blood and powers. (Although if I were her, I would magick up some way to carry bags of replacement blood with me wherever I went, as she seems to lose gallons of it over the course of a book.) She once prided herself on needing no one, rejecting help, and pushing other people away; now she has a painstakingly built found family she is fiercely loyal to and will fight to maintain. She has even developed a friendship with her terrifying aunt, the Luidaeg (who is one of my favorite characters).

As Toby's character has deepened and expanded, so has the author's world. This book takes her into the depths of Faerie and brings her face to face with the older half-sister she never knew. It also reunites her with the person who betrayed her, Simon Torquill, who gets an affecting character arc of his own. There is a lot of trauma in this book, realistically portrayed, and it doesn't exactly end on a hopeful note.

(I also appreciated the inclusion of a side novella at the end, exploring a different character. This story, "Of Things Unknown," is an interesting blend of Faerie and cyberpunk.)

This is book number 11 of the series; as of right now, two books remain. I think McGuire is lining everything up and getting her ducks in a row for the finale. I'm looking forward to it.

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