Late Eclipses (October Daye, Book 4)
by Seanan McGuire
Cover Artist: Chris McGrath
Review by Drew Bittner
DAW Mass Market Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780756406660
Date: 01 March 2011 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
October "Toby" Daye never wanted to be in the middle of a power struggle in the courts of faerie--but that's just where she is. Not only that, but there's a murderer on the loose who's targeting her friends...and making it look like Toby is the killer!
In Late Eclipses, the fourth October Daye novel by Seanan McGuire, the titular heroine finally seems to have her life on track. She's earning money as a private investigator/knight errant for Duke Sylvester Torquill, her Fetch (personal harbinger of death) May is her roommate and closest friend, and things seem calm.
It doesn't last.
Toby is summoned to appear before the Queen of the Mists, for whom she did a great service--and then had the bad manners to take credit for it, thus earning the Queen's enmity. The fact that the Queen is somewhat mad only makes matters worse. When she offers Toby a title, though, her ally Tybalt (San Francisco's King of Cats) knows it's a trap. So does Toby, but she has other problems to worry about.
The undine Lily, protectress of the Japanese Tea Gardens, has fallen ill and seems to be dying. Not only that, but Duke Sylvester's wife Luna has also been stricken by some unknown illness. Poison is suspected, and Toby is certain that her old enemy Oleander de Merelands is behind all of it, but proof is lacking.
But proof isn't a problem for the Queen, who accuses Toby of being a murderer and imprisons her in her dungeons. Unless Toby can find a way to prove her innocence, she'll be executed--and a murderer will remain free, to prey upon Toby's family and friends.
Toby Daye, refreshingly, has good reason for her attitude: she lost 14 years of her life doing a "little favor" for her duke. It cost her everything, but it cost the duke even more, as his wife Luna and daughter Rayseline came back...damaged. Toby couldn't save them, and she blames herself for that, as well as several other things that happened in her absence.
Her Fetch, May, is a great character, being a copy of Toby in many ways but with a sparkly personality of her own (much as Toby might have been, had events been otherwise). So is Tybalt, the King of Cats, who is a frustrating but engaging presence in Toby's life. Add in the large (and growing) cast of sort-of-normal changeling families, friends, dependents, and others in Toby's life and it's easy to believe this story can go on for many years to come.
The plot, which sees Toby framed for crimes she didn't commit and forced to go to extremes to prove herself, is well handled. The Queen's malice toward Toby is palpable, giving the heroine a worthy enemy (and she has more than one of those already), but her scheme is clever and ruthless.
A great installment in a series that is becoming a must-read, Late Eclipses will satisfy even the most demanding urban fantasy reader.