Tuesday, June 21, 2011

An Artificial Night by Seanan McGuire

An Artificial Night (October Daye, Book 3)This is the third book in the October Daye series, and moves things along nicely. McGuire never really burdened her readers with a ton of descriptive information and back story on all of the characters in the first book, but just jumped into the action with just enough explanation to, well, explain. As we've gotten deeper into the series, we continue to get glimpses of the people, places and history that occupy Ms. Daye's world. It may seem a bit stingy, but it works.

Someone has begun kidnapping children, beginning with two of October's friend, Stacy's youngest. We know from the earlier books that Toby has issues with having an estranged daughter, after spending fourteen years in a koi pond, but the opening scene at a screaming, hollering kiddie birthday party gives us the information that Toby likes kids, and seems to relate well to them. When Andy and Jessica disappear, Toby is called to investigate, and finds out it's not just a mundane abduction, but that there are magical forces in play.

As she digs further, her Cat Lord friend, Tybalt, divulges that children are missing from his court, too, and requests her help recovering them. When she gets to Sylvester's court, looking for information, she finds that children have been taken there, as well. She consults Lily, the naiad, which leads her to Luna, the kitsune and wife of Sylvester, and eventually back to her acquaintance, the Luidaeg, who shows her a path she can follow to the realm of Blind Michael, leader of The Hunt. He has taken the children to replace casualties among his riders and steeds, and will transform them in horrible ways if Toby doesn't do something about it.

Blind Michael is one of the First Born, however, and there are few left in faerie with comparable power, so it looks like certain death to face him. This seems to be further confirmed when May Daye (again with the month names), arrives on the scene in the middle of this muddle. May is Toby's Fetch, the agent sent to escort her to the land of Death. May is also basically Toby's doppleganger, which works out well when Toby finds ways to use her that aren't strictly traditional.

One of the things that this volume does quite well, I think, is develop Toby's understanding of herself and the people around her. She's gone for quite some time as the typical loner heroine, and has a hard time accepting help, or the idea that she's actually loved. McGuire shows her and us in An Artificial Night that she really does have a family, just not of the traditional sort, who are willing to put their own lives on the line to help her when it counts.

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