Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Ashes of Honor by Seanan McGuire

This is the sixth novel in the October Daye series. Toby is still grieving over the loss of her lover, Connor, and her changeling daughter's decision to remain in the human world, where Toby can never see her again. This, of course, has blinded her to something that's been obvious to us for a while, Cat King Tybalt's own undeclared love for her. Once again, I'm seeing the same theme here as in so many of the "strong heroine" urban fantasy novels being penned today - if only she would trust her friends more, and not be so self-destructive, everything would be all better. Oh, and quit resisting the overtures of the strong, dark, mysterious leading man, as well.

Also, again, Toby is presented with the case of a missing or kidnapped child. McGuire actually discusses her repeated involvement in these things, but doesn't necessarily justify it well, other than to say that Toby is driven to solve these things, and people know she's good at it. I think that a case could be made for Toby's own experience in being raised in an Oliver Twist-like fashion by a Fagan-ish figure, Devin, having predisposed her towards helping out troubled children and orphans. Her background there does come in handy on occasion, as when she is imprisoned in a dark tower in Annwn later on and needs to know how to pick locks to free herself and her companions from the villains of the piece.

One of Sylvester's retainers, Etienne, whom Toby doesn't really care for, fathered a changeling child with a human woman about sixteen years ago, and never knew the child existed until now, when the mother, Brigid, called accusing him of kidnapping the girl, Chelsea. Chelsea has inherited the power of opening teleportation portals from her Sidhe father, but has not inherited the control that would naturally come if she were a full blood. She is opening gates into dangerous places in Faerie that were sealed by Oberon long ago, and the fabric of reality is beginning to come unraveled, which could result in disaster for the Summerlands and all of its dwellers. Toby needs to find her in a hurry, before said dire results occur.

So Toby and her loyal squire, Quentin, the Cat King, and an assorted host of allies flail about a bit until they discover that Countess Riordan has gained some control over Chelsea, and is using her portal-opening abilities for her own ends. In the middle of discovering this, a coup attempt in the Cat King's court comes very close to succeeding - with slasher flick type of results when the main conspirator turns out to be amazingly hard to kill (cats have nine lives, you know). One thing that doesn't play all that well for me in this book is how Toby repeatedly comes within a hair's breadth of dying, only to be whisked away by her friends to Sylvester's healer, Jin, who rants and raves like Star Trek's Dr. McCoy each time about how it was all she could do to save Toby. Just a little overly dramatic, Toby bleeding to death from internal injuries...curtain falls...blackout! Then we wake up and everything is OK.

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