Book Review: Seanan McGuire’s “Full of Briars”

Posted August 6, 2016 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews

I received this book for free from my own shelves in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Seanan McGuire’s “Full of Briars”

"Full of Briars"


Seanan McGuire

short stories, urban fantasy in eBook edition that was published by DAW Books on August 2, 2016 and has 44 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

Other books by this author which I have reviewed include Home Improvement: Undead Edition, Indexing, The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination, Half-Off Ragnarok, Midway Relics and Dying Breeds, Games Creatures Play, The Winter Long, Sparrow Hill Road, The InCryptid Prequels, Pocket Apocalypse, Black as Blood, Blocked, White as a Raven's Wing, The Ghosts of Bourbon Street, IM, "Good Girls Go to Heaven", A Red Rose Chain, Reflections, Once Broken Faith, "Dreams and Slumbers", Shadowed Souls, Chaos Choreography, Magic For Nothing, Indigo, Every Heart a Doorway, Down Among the Sticks and Bones, The Brightest Fell, "Of Things Unknown", Beneath the Sugar Sky

A short story (7.1 chronologically and 9.3 publication-wise) from Quentin Solly’s perspective in the October Daye urban fantasy series set in San Francisco and revolving around Sir Toby Daye, a knight errant for the fae.

My Take

It’s so cute. Quentin is so worried about the impression Toby will make on his parents, and it provides McGuire the opportunity to tell us all about Toby’s foibles and manners as well as gain perspectives on other core characters.

“I don’t think Mom likes it when people say hello by puking on her.”

Hmmm, I had no idea Quentin felt like this about Tybalt…nor about Dean! As for how Quentin feels about his parents sending him away, well, it’ll break your heart, but only in a telling sort of way. It does make sense that he felt he had done something wrong. Poor baby.

It is sweet to discover how Quentin has grown and changed in his time in Shadowed Hills. His parents are certainly shocked by some of the changes he’s been forced into, lol. They’re also rather, ahem, surprised by the details Quentin hasn’t fully, um, explained in his letters home, *more laughter*

Tybalt and Raj are quite snarky in this as they put down the High King and Queen. Hoo, boy. Certainly gives you insight into how the cat courts react to the Tuatha de Dannan, *still laughing* It’s also a show of family support, and I don’t mean Quentin’s parents!

I did like the ending, even though it was rather abruptly thrown in. I would have liked more warmth in these final scenes as well.

The true conflict in “Full of Briars” is one of oath breaking and parents not ready for their child to grow up. Only to find that he has indeed grown. Quentin’s assessment of what he was like before being fostered and now is quite insightful. I’ll be hopin’ that McGuire plans to keep the story going with some action when Quentin becomes king.

“It’s not what you are, it’s what you do.”

The Story

It’s Queen Arden’s coronation, and the High King and Queen of the Westlands are coming to bless her reign. And to see their son about coming home.

The Characters

The seventeen-year-old Quentin Solly is a blind foster Daoine Sidhe, who has been at Duke Sylvester’s court for the past five years, and is Sir Toby’s squire. He’s also Crown Prince of the High Kingdom of the Westlands and the son of King Aethlin and High Queen Maida in Toronto. Penthea is his younger sister whom he hasn’t seen since he was fostered out.

Sir Toby Daye, Knight of Lost Words, is a changeling and Dóchas Sidhe in service to her liege lord. May Daye is Toby’s Fetch with Toby’s and Dare’s memories (An Artificial Night, 3). Gilly is Toby’s human daughter whom she can never contact again.

The Court of Dreaming Cats is…
…ruled by Tybalt, a Cait Sidhe, who is the local king and in love with Toby. Raj is his heir, the Prince of Cats, and Quentin’s best friend since events in An Artificial Night, which is also where Raj first met, Helen, his half-Hob girlfriend. Cat in the Rafters is a restaurant owned by a Cait Sidhe.

Winderemere in the Mists is…
…the kingdom in San Francisco over which the newly crowned Queen Arden rules (Chimes at Midnight, 7). King Gilad had been Arden’s father. Madden is a Cu Sidhe, a faerie dog, who worked the coffee shop next door to the bookstore; now he’s Arden’s seneschal.

The Duchy of Shadowed Hills is…
…ruled by Toby’s liege lord, Duke Sylvester Torquill. Sir Etienne, a Tuatha de Dannan, is helping with Quentin’s fencing lessons. Sir Etienne’s daughter, Chelsea, caused all sorts of grief in Ashes of Honor, 6. Melly is a Hob.

Goldengreen is…
…the knowe that Toby passed on to Dean Lorden (One Salt Sea, 5), now Count of Goldengreen and the half-Merrow, half-Daoine eldest son of Dianda, the Duchess of Saltmist, who rules the local Undersea. Marcia is the Seneschal of Goldengreen.

The Cover and Title

The cover is too funny with Quentin in jeans and black leather jacket with his blond hair sweeping up. Yep, he’s a cutie all right, and it’s hard to reconcile this lad with being Crown Prince, lol. The background is a split between the golds and greens of Faerie with a castle on the hill and birds flitting through the air on the left while one of San Francisco’s steep streets, cars parked on the sides, buildings rearing up, and a wee glimpse of the Bay Bridge in the distance on the right. The author’s name is at the top in white while the scratchy-looking yellow title crowds Quentin’s legs.

The title is what this family reunion becomes, “Full of Briars”.