Frith (frith_in_thorns) wrote,
Frith
frith_in_thorns

keep your shield before you and your head held high

naye asked me to talk about the October Daye book series, by Seanan McGuire.

I have LOTS TO SAY about them.

These books are an urban fantasy series set in San Fransisco, and about the Fae community. The main character, October "Toby" Daye, is a changeling (only half-fae) and works as a private investigator. Basically Fae's only private investigator, as most of the pureblooded fae consider her methods far too modern and controversial. She's also very much an outsider — there's huge stigma attached to changelings, and they're considered very much second-class.

I love Toby. She's headstrong and not too good at stopping to think before acting, and completely oblivious to FEELINGS going on around her. She achieves her results by barrelling into mysteries and basically shouting at them and refusing to stop until they're solved. She's also in her 40s, with an estranged husband and daughter, and basically is a lovely genderflip of the Vimes or Harry Dresden esque noir detective.

Toby is the viewpoint character, but the books very much aren't only about her. One of the lovely things is the gradual progression from Toby at the start of the series being very much alone, with no close friends, to her building up this entire network of people hanging around at all hours and who she wouldn't dream of doing things without. She's the mentor to two teenage boys who utterly hero-worship her, and has distinct and different relationships with a whole network of friends and relatives.

Something I find wonderful about these books is how diverse the cast is. San Francisco's a pretty diverse place, and that's represented in both the Fae and human characters (I particularly love that as well as just having non-white characters, many of these characters also represent non-Western fairy tale mythos and Fae races, which are described in exactly the same way as ones which readers may be more familiar with, ie kitsune vs selkies.) And there are also queer people! And queer characters in steady relationships which do NOT end in tragedy.

Another thing I love is how the Fae world is blended with the human one. The fae use enchantments to use the subway for free and to avoid parking tickets, and hate the Golden Gate Bridge because of all the iron, and there are telephones in the Fae palaces with indicators on them to let them know if they're being called from a human phone or by another fae, and the second book is about a group of fae running an internet start-up. There's a troll who's a taxi driver and has a load of charms so that he doesn't get caught by traffic cameras. There's a dryad who lives in a server information tree. One of the fae is a chemistry professor at Stanford and Toby starts getting him to scientifically analyse potions and spells.

Basically, I really love these books. The first one is a little shaky compared to the rest, as it was the author's first novel, but you really are rewarded for sticking with them. Definitely the best thing about the books are the characters — McGuire is very like Bujold in writing loads of characters that you love, and some that you end up doing a complete 180 on over the course of the series. (Except unlike Bujold, there is no surprise!transphobia to trip over, and way less heteronormativity.) They can be really dark, but at the same time fun and lovely and I just want to give everyone millions of hugs.

In short: Read these books! They're awesome!

The books so far:
Rosemary and Rue
A Local Habitation
An Artificial Night
Late Eclipses
One Salt Sea
Ashes of Honor
Chimes at Midnight


Posted at http://frith-in-thorns.dreamwidth.org/111402.html with comment count unavailable comments.
Tags: books, recs
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