Good Reading: The Initial October Daye Trilogy
I picked up Rosemary and Rue on a whim. I need that noted.
Bree and I were visiting my family in California and we managed to sneak away to a bookstore. She found a Rogue Squadron book she didn’t know existed and we picked up that and I nabbed the first of the October Daye books because it looked interesting.
I’m a fan of the author, Seanan McGuire, in general. Her twitter and tumblr pages are full of the sort of magic people forget is real. Her book, Every Heart A Doorway, and the series it spawned is a favorite gift to younger readers and a brilliant concept in and of itself. There’s some beautiful things in this world and she crafts them into amazing tales, so I figured it would be a fun read.
What I failed to take into account is that Seanan is faerie herself. You know the legends of Sirens luring people to their deaths with their inescapable song? Seanan weaves a similar spell with her writing.
I finished the first book at the beginning of August; I’m on the seventh book now. For fear of waiting I ended up ordering the whole series off Amazon just before Bree and I went to get married. I only brought the second book with me to Hawaii and finished it on the plane and seriously considered buying the third one while we were there, despite the book waiting for me at home.
Word of warning: these books are addictive. Horribly, horribly addictive. I can’t recommend them enough.
Bree and I go for walks and talk about things, so here’s a brief summary of what I’ve told Bree about Rosemary and Rue the first book in the series:
“Okay, so there’s a detective named October Daye because her mother was a faerie. She’s a knight in faerie society and is off to rescue her lord’s wife and daughter when the kidnapper, her lord’s evil twin brother, turns her into a fish and she’s stuck that way for fourteen years. When she gets out the world has moved on without her and she’s dragged kicking and screaming back into a world she’s no longer certain of.”
That’s not even a spoiler. That’s the first chapter.
From there, she has to dance around faerie politics while solving kidnappings, murders, and worse. She’s a half-blood faerie so she’s looked down upon most of the time and only has a limited amount of magic, but her training as a detective makes her unique among the fae. She’s also got a talent for finding and solving trouble that’s made her a lot of enemies in the society she’s tried to leave behind.
By the second book, A Local Habitation, she’s off solving murder mysteries and uncovering some of the most secret lore in faerie society. She’s so far in over her head at all times. Seanan has a deep history that reveals itself slowly and moves at a breakneck speed – she’s not afraid to move ancient myth into the modern era and watch it evolve, and A Local Habitation shows what sort of forces she’s playing with. A dryad is plugged into a computer server and basically becomes something entirely new while faeries are dying all around her. It’s somehow even more distressing that it sounds. It’s also stunning, impossible to put down.
And the third book really nails home the scope of the stories she’s willing to tell. Three books in and the Big Bad is the lord of the Wild Hunt and one of the First Born Faeries, basically a god. Seems the Lord of the Hunt kidnaps mortal and faerie children and abuses them into being the riders and ridden of the Hunt. He’s a horrifying monster that everyone is terrified of and our heroine doesn’t even think she can beat him – she just wants to rescue the kids. An Artificial Night is exhausting and exhaustive and you feel every step of every road walked through the strength of writing and character. It also twists classic lore in a way that makes perfect sense in retrospect.
The big secret Seanan uses is a lore that is perfectly in sync with itself, strong characterization that makes her people easy to recognize and fall in love with, a simple rhythm to the way her stories are told: big impact to hook the reader, a slow build of seemingly disparate ideas and actions, and then a seamless weave of all those ideas and actions about halfway through the book into a single sprint from halfway til end. You have just enough time to get comfortable and make sense of things before the sprint begins, and at that point you’re not going anywhere.
Seanan McGuire is a treasure of a writer that needs more people to read her work. You can follow her on twitter or tumblr by clicking on either of those words, and find Rosemary and Rue, A Local Habitation, and An Artificial Night by clicking on those names. I urge you to do so, and I’ll be back to write about the next three novels in just a little bit.
Right now, I’m off to read.