Book Review: Chimes at Midnight by Seanan McGuire

Posted November 13, 2013 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews / 0 Comments

Book Review: Chimes at Midnight by Seanan McGuireChimes at Midnight by Seanan McGuire
Series: October Daye, #7, #7
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Published by DAW Books, Penguin on September 3, 2013
Pages: 346
Source: the library


Things are starting to look up for October "Toby" Daye. She's training her squire, doing her job, and has finally allowed herself to grow closer to the local King of Cats. It seems like her life may finally be settling least until dead changelings start appearing in the alleys of San Francisco, killed by an overdose of goblin fruit.

Toby's efforts to take the problem to the Queen of the Mists are met with harsh reprisals, leaving her under sentence of exile from her home and everyone she loves. Now Toby must find a way to reverse the Queens decree, get the goblin fruit off the streets--and, oh, yes, save her own life, since more than a few of her problems have once again followed her home. And then there's the question of the Queen herself, who seems increasingly unlikely to have a valid claim to the throne....

To find the answers, October and her friends will have to travel from the legendary Library of Stars into the hidden depths of the Kingdom of the Mists--and they'll have to do it fast, because time is running out. In faerie, some fates are worse than death.

October Daye is about to find out what they are.

Also by this author: Indexing, The Winter Long, The InCryptid Prequels, Pocket Apocalypse, A Red Rose Chain, Reflections, Once Broken Faith, "Dreams and Slumbers", Chaos Choreography, Magic For Nothing, Indigo, Every Heart a Doorway, The Brightest Fell, "Of Things Unknown", Beneath the Sugar Sky, Night and Silence, "Suffer a Sea-change", The Girl in the Green Silk Gown, "The Recitation of the Most Holy and Harrowing Pilgrimage of Mindy and Also Mork", Tricks for Free, That Ain't Witchcraft, "The Measure of a Monster", The Unkindest Tide, "Hope is Swift", Come Tumbling Down, Imaginary Numbers, "Follow the Lady", "The Fixed Stars", "Forbid the Sea", "No Sooner Met", Across the Green Grass Fields

Reviewed by Kathy

Seventh in the October Daye urban fantasy series revolving around a knight in Duke Sylvester Torquill’s service in San Francisco.

Read my review of the short story found in the back of Chimes at Midnight, “Never Shines the Sun“, on KD Did It Takes on Books.

My Take
I love it! Setting the story in San Francisco and the Bay Area helps provide that modern twist that sets October Daye apart from other tales of Faerie. The realism of Toby Daye. The incredible range of friends Toby has acquired who support her where she leads (and needs!). All using the foundation of the basic myths and legends of Faerie.

I thought it was complex before with needing to find the rightful heir. But this addiction to the goblin fruit and Toby’s blood balancing abilities create problems in a HUGE way. It’s terrifying and I couldn’t turn pages fast enough. There has to be a way out of this for I’m as scared as Tybalt, Quentin, and Sylvester.

Toby and Tybalt are still in love, thank god as it took long enough, LOL. Their relationship has such an ease to it, and I love how accepting Tybalt is of Toby, such a modern view by an old sidhe with a gift of knowing.

After all the bigotry on the part of most of the fae, I love that Tybalt and the Ravens look out for their changelings! It’s only right.

Tybalt wishes Toby would “wear dresses more often. They make me itch to peel you out of them.”

Toby’s friends gather, unquestioning, to stand up for her against the queen. There’s simply no question that they’ll do what they can. And the story makes good use of the allies Toby has made so far.

“I am a cat…eventually we must go where we wish to be, not where we are told.”

It’s bittersweet as Toby loses all desire for her favorite addiction: coffee. That’s when everyone knows it’s real. Then, Quentin reveals the truth about himself. Just as I suspected…whew.

It’s a brilliant plan, and could work if Tybalt lives, if Toby can free Diana, if she can free Nolan, if, if, if…

I was just re-reading Chimes at Midnight and found an anomaly when Toby is remembering the rescue of Peter and Dean from  in One Salt Sea, 5. She’s remembering the Luidaeg convincing the knowe that Arden lives, which can’t be right since we [Toby] don’t know until this book that there is an Arden!

I do adore this series. Toby is such a real person. Sure, this is fantasy with fantastic characters at both ends of the good-evil spectrum, but Toby is someone with whom I would love to be friends. She has her quirks and frustrating habits as well as her very good points, and she proves that, despite a dysfunctional childhood and family, it’s possible to be a good person, to gain friends, to build a family of one’s own choices. To have honor and stand up for what’s right.

The Story
Just when things are going well—ain’t it always the way?—Toby discovers a drug that humans and changelings can’t resist. One which leaves their dead bodies littering the city. A danger for which the Queen of the Mists is indifferent, but oh, that offers this evil queen the opportunity to remove Toby from her kingdom.

A mistake, a very big mistake as the Luidaeg sets Toby a task that reveals too much that is wrong.

The Characters
Sir October “Toby” Daye, Knight of Lost Words, is a changeling, living hope chest, a Dóchas Sidhe able to determine the makeup of someone’s blood. The daughter of a powerful Firstborn who is herself the daughter of Oberon—Amandine. Gillian is Toby’s daughter with Cliff.

The teenage Quentin is Daoine Sidhe, a blind foster from somewhere in Canada—Toby thinks Toronto—and Toby’s squire (A Local Habitation, 2) and friends with Raj. May/Mai is Toby’s Fetch (An Artificial Night, 3); Jasmine Patel is May’s girlfriend and a skinshifting raven. Cagney and Lacey are Toby’s half-Siamese cats; Spike is the resident rose goblin.

Tybalt, a Cait Sidhe, is the local King of the Court of Dreaming Cats and uses the Shadow Roads to get around; Raj is his heir, the Prince of Cats. Helen is Raj’s longtime half-Hob girlfriend.

The Queen in the Mists looks like the perfect faerie queen—a mix of Sea Wight, Siren, and Banshee—if only she weren’t mad. She hates and despises Toby, mostly because Toby refused to pretend. Unfortunately, San Francisco is her kingdom. She sends Candela and Ellyllon out to spy on Toby. Lowri is one of the guards.

The Luidaeg is a sea witch and Toby’s aunt. She’s also a patron of the Selkies due to the Roane having been her descendants.

Other Firstborn
Antigone of Albany is the Luidaeg; Eira Rosynhwyr, the Daoine Sidhe Firstborn, was given the Goldengreen hope chest; Acacia; Amandine (Toby’s mom) is Last Among the First; Blind Michael; Black Annis; Gentle Annie, a.k.a., Anglides, the Mother of Trees…

Walther is an alchemist, a pureblood Tylwyth Teg masquerading as a human chemistry professor at UC-Berkeley. Jack Redpath is his human grad student.

King Gilad Windermere, a Tuatha de Dannan, was the last ruler in the Mists, killed in the 1906 earthquake. Arden was his daughter, the Crown Princess in the Mists, and Nolan is her elf-shot brother. Sebille was their mother. Marianne is the nursemaid who whisked them away.

Ardith owns the Borderlands bookstore; Jude works there; and, Madden is a Cu Sidhe, a faerie dog, who works the coffee shop next door. When in his dog form, he answers to Buddy.

Danny McReady, a Bridge Troll, is a taxi-driving friend. Connie is his extremely talented mechanic. King Aethlin Sollys is King of the High Kingdom of the Westlands; High Queen Maida is his wife.

Goldengreen is the knowe that had been held by the Countess of Evening Winterrose, then Toby inherited, and she passed it on to Dean Lorden, now Count of Goldengreen and eldest son of Dianda, the Duchess of Saltmist, a Merrow, who rules the local Undersea. Patrick is his father, a Daoine Sidhe, and both parents were contemporaries of Gilad. Marcia is the Seneschal of Goldengreen, an appointment Toby made that Dean kept. Peter is Dean’s brother and heir to the Undersea.

Li Qin Zhou, a Shyi Shuai, a luck manipulator—don’t ask, seriously, don’t—is the widow of Countess January O’Leary of Tamed Lightning (A Local Habitation, 2), and the current acting regent of Dreamer’s Glass while Duchess Treasa Riordan is stranded in Annwn (Ashes of Honor, 6). April O’Leary, the current Countess of Tamed Lightning, is the world’s first cyber-Dryad and specializes in making mortal technology work with fae magic.

Magdaleana Brook is a Puca and the Librarian for the Library of Stars.

Duke Sylvester Torquill rules the Duchy of Shadowed Hills and is Toby’s liege lord. He’s provided the Victorian house in which Toby, May, Jazz, and Quentin live (Ashes of Honor, 6). Luna is a Blodynbryd, a Dryad connected to fields of roses. Sir Etienne is a Tuatha de Dannan knight in Sylvester’s service and still without his powers; Grianne, a Candela, and her Merry Dancers is still Sylvester’s second-in-command. Jin is an Ellyllon, a hedonisitic fae who heals and Sylvester’s personal physician. Melly and Ormond are the Hobs who come to help clean. Karen, an oneiromancer, is a child Toby rescued from Blind Michael’s lands (An Artificial Night, 3).

Night-haunts are feared, a deep dark secret of Faerie, shadows that came for the dead and carried them away. Those whom Toby encounters are those she knew: Devin/Egil, her old mentor (Rosemary and Rue, 1); Oleander de Merelands, the fae assassin who pursued her for so long (Rosemary and Rue); and, Connor, the Selkie man she had loved.

Goblin fruit is a naturally occurring narcotic that doesn’t affect the purebloods, but an unbreakable addiction for humans and changelings. Changelings are crossbred children of the fae and humans, a born underclass with few to miss them. A Fetch is created when night-haunts consume the blood of the living. A hope chest can change the balance of a person’s blood and were made to keep Faerie in balance.

Oberon’s Law is thou shalt not kill. Purebloods. Humans and changelings are fair game.

The Cover
The cover is blue-purples and black with a pointy-eared Toby clutching a curved dagger and what looks like a fish in a book-lined room glancing to the side as if at a sudden sound.

The best I can come up with about the title is the deadline the Queen has laid on Toby, that the Chimes at Midnight will see her gone from the Kingdom.

Reviewed by Kathy Davie

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