Fourth in the October Daye urban-fantasy series revolving around a half-fae, half-human private detective based in San Francisco.
The Queen summons Toby to her Court and thus into a trap with unforeseen consequences even as it provides a refuge. But in the middle of Court, Marcia appears desperate for Toby’s help. Lily is ill and those of her Court need Toby’s help. Lily cannot die for she is the only fae who has ever welcomed changelings to her knowe with no expectations beyond loyalty and friendship. Worse, no one at the Court of the Mists can know that Lily’s Court is weakened lest they descend and destroy.
Even in the midst of all her worries about Lily, Toby must attend the Beltane Ball at Shadow Hills. As a newly-created Countess of Goldengreen and one of Sylvester’s knights, Toby cannot not appear. Yet even that leads to disaster, for Luna, Duchess of Shadow Hills, falls deathly ill and the fingers begin to point at Toby as the assassin of both Lily and Luna. Even Toby begins to wonder when olfactory, visual, and auditory hallucinations distract her into dangerous behavior.
October “Toby” Daye is a changeling and therefore would have little status in a fae Court, however, as Sylvester’s knight errant and the daughter of Amandine, she does merit a certain level of respect. Tybalt is the local King of the Cats, a Cait Sidhe, and appears to have an affection for Toby. He certainly is quick to come to her aid. Connor O’Dell is a selkie suffering a political marriage to Rayseline, the mad daughter of Duke Torquill of Shadow Hills. Connor also loves Toby. Sylvester and Luna, Duke and Duchess of Shadow Hills, love each other dearly and consider Toby a friend. At least, Sylvester does until Luna, the Dryad of roses before she hid herself inside a Kitsune skin, lies dying. Quentin is a page at Shadow Hills Court and has been friends with Toby for two years now.
May Daye, Toby’s Fetch, is Toby’s roommate and practically a partner seeing as how it’s May who is always answering the phone at Toby’s place. Danny is a Bridge Troll and his Barghest Rescue is doing well. Walther Davies is a Tylwyth Teg and a chemistry professor at UC-Berkeley who recently moved to the Bay Area and whom Lily has permitted to move temporarily into her knowe. Karen Brown, the second daughter of Stacy and Mitch, has been embracing her dreams power. As an oneiromancer, she can see the future in dreams and use them to tell people what she thinks they need to know. Needless to say, Karen has been chatting with Toby quite a bit. Amandine is Toby’s mother and we learn so very much more about her relationship with her daughter as well as her background. Etienne is in charge of the Duke’s guard for whom Toby was his squire at one point. Jin, an Ellyllon, is the healer for the ducal court. The Luidaeg makes a few brief appearances.
The Queen of the Mists hates Toby for finding Dawn’s murderer and her knowe and, while she prefers that Toby never appear at her Court, does whatever she can to humiliate or cut Toby down when she does show. Unfortunately, she’s also Sylvester’s liege lord. Dugan Harrow is one of the queen’s courtiers to whom I suspect Toby is gonna do something nasty. He certainly deserves it! Oleander de Merelands is a half-Peri, half-Daoine Sidhe and happily utilizes the traits of both sides of her parents as an assassin. She and Toby have a history, a very fishy history and she is determined to destroy Toby and if she gets to murder people, fae to whom Toby is close, well, all the better. Manuel is also willing to lie to destroy Toby.
Read this for the adventure and the heroics. McGuire has created some great characters that seem realistic for their state in life. Sure, there’s a bit of the overdone in each and yet isn’t that what makes for an interesting character? The trick is not going so far overboard that you drown in caricature and McGuire is successful in this. Most are what you would expect while a few are wholly McGuire’s invention.
I really do recommend this series. Even for young adults.
Whoa, Toby in a ball gown with Tybalt’s leather jacket. Of course, this being Toby, she’s also carrying a knife and the goblet she suspects of poisoning the Duchess of Shadow Hills as she stares out at us with a glaring question in her eyes in the midst of a lovely twilit flower garden. My take is that the title is a reference to Toby’s last chance at a choice. A Changeling’s Choice, one of her Last Eclipses.