Book Review: The Brightest Fell by Seanan McGuire

Posted November 1, 2017 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews / 2 Comments

Book Review: The Brightest Fell by Seanan McGuire

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Brightest Fell by Seanan McGuire
Series: October Daye #11
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Published by DAW Books on September 5, 2017
Pages: 368
Format: Hardcover
Source: the library

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Also in this series: Chimes at Midnight

Also by this author: Chimes at Midnight, 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, "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

Eleventh in the October Daye urban fantasy series set in San Francisco and revolving around a half-human, half-fae knight. This story takes place in 2013. It’s been four years since Rosemary and Rue, 1.

My Take

Talk about dysfunctional families. You know how there are mothers whom you simply cannot please? Yeah, meet Toby’s mom. What. A. Bitch.

“‘Do this for me, and you will be forgiven.’

Forgiven? Forgiven for what?’

‘For refusing to be the child I needed you to be.’”

Unlucky for us that McGuire uses first-person protagonist point-of-view, which makes us empathize that much more strongly with Toby.

It’s a tale, a series-long tale, of how one woman makes herself a hero, growing in herself, as does her family of choice. A woman who always strives to do right, no matter the cost. It’s a hard road, but one heaped with the friends Toby has made over the years.

The characters…whew. I love Toby and her chosen family. I also enjoy the core characters and the interweaving and progress (or reversal) that McGuire creates for them. And I think The Brightest Fell has the most horrible set of bad guys ever in this series, possibly in most series I’ve read. Selfish, spoiled people who need a MAJOR time-out.

McGuire certainly takes us on a whirling journey of emotion and danger, as our heroes encounter past conflicts as well as past successes, some I would never have anticipated. One of the minor conflicts in the series is Toby’s anger at Sylvester over what she learned in The Winter Long, 8. Little did I expect how her anger would be flipped.

This is a litany of excuses from Simon. All the reasons he did the horrible things he did. And a nasty bit of foreshadowing it turns out!

It’s all part of the amazing world McGuire has created, pulling together the “facts” of the fae and creating a most wondrous blend of magic, myth, and reality.

There’s good in here, and so very much that is bad. No, no, not the writing. It’s the horrible things happening in the storyline, that ending…and I have to wait for a year before Night and Silence comes out!

The Story

It all starts at a karoake bar at Toby’s bachelorette party. It’s the, shall we say, quality of the guests that causes Amandine to prepare so carefully. And as a Firstborn fae, she cares not whom she insults with that wicked tongue and careless manner.

A lack of consideration that leads to hostage-taking, and a warning from the Luidaeg that Amy likes her pets but won’t care to remember she can’t break them.

It will mean waking Simon, a traitorous fae who had committed horrible crimes against his own brother. It will mean Toby losing the marks of her mortality.

The Characters

Sir October “Toby” Daye, a changeling and Oberon’s granddaughter, is more fae these days than human and serves as a knight of the realm for Duke Torquill. Her “day job” is as a private investigator. Quentin Sollys is her squire and a crown prince-in-hiding. Spike is a rose goblin and one of Toby’s pets along with her half-Siamese cats, Cagney and Lacey. Maye Daye is Toby’s Fetch and her roommate. Jasmine “Jazz” Patel, a Raven-maid, is Maye’s live-in girlfriend.

The Luidaeg is Toby’s aunt and a fearsome fae, the sea witch, the most powerful of the Firstborn. When asked for aid, she must give you what you’re willing to pay for.

The Summerlands are…

…Faerie. Acacia, the Mother of Trees, is Blind Michael’s widow and Luna’s mother.

Amandine’s Tower is…
…in the Summerlands and is where Toby grew up with her mother, Amandine the Liar. Last Among the First, and sister to the Luidaeg, she can smell your ancestry from your blood. August is the older sister Toby barely knew existed (The Winter Long, 8). Simon Torquill, the fae who turned Toby into a fish and left her in a pond for 14 years, that fae?, seems he’s Toby’s legal father, as he’s married to Amandine, and Sylvester’s younger twin brother. Gillian is the human daughter Toby lost when she was turned into a fish.

The pixies were…
…made by Maeve. Poppy, Dandelion, Parsnip, Lilac, and Stoplight are some of the pixies, and they’re thrilled to see Simon again and are asking about Patrick.

Annwn is…
…where Duchess Treasa Riordan (formerly of Dreamer’s Glass) ended up after Ashes of Honor, 6. Her court consists of Daoine Sidhe, Tuatha de Dannan, Selkies, Satyrs, Folletti (a sky fae she uses as her personal guard), and more. Officer Thornton is a human policeman who had been taken.

In Between

The Court of Dreaming Cats is…
…ruled by the King of Cats, Tybalt, Toby’s fiancé. Both he and Raj, Tybalt’s nephew (and the crown prince who is great friends with Quentin), are Cait Sidhe able to ride the Shadow Roads.

Shadowed Hills is…
…a duchy ruled by Sylvester Torquill, Toby’s uncle, and a Daoine Sidhe. Luna Torquill, a Blodynbryd, is his duchess, a daughter of Blind Michael (An Artificial Night, 3), and she hates Toby. Sir Etienne, a Tuatha de Dannan, is one of the guards and married to Bridget, a human. Chelsea is their changeling daughter who can open doors. Grianne, a Candela with her Merry Dancers, is still Sylvester’s second-in-command. Jin, an Ellyllon, is the resident healer. Celaeno and Septimius Torquill were September (the deceased sister), Sylvester, and Simon’s parents. Melly, a Hob, is in charge of the kitchens at Shadowed Hills.

Windermere in the Mists is…
…ruled by Queen Arden Windermere. Nolan is Arden’s younger brother who finally awoke from his elf-shot induced sleep. He’s also Crown Prince of the Mists. Madden is her seneschal, a Cu Sidhe, a faerie dog, who works at Borderlands Café, and is one of Arden’s few friends. Alan is the café’s owner. Walther Davies is a Tylwyth Teg alchemist and a chemistry professor at UC-Berkeley who created the cure for elf-shot. King Gilad had been Arden and Nolan’s father; he and his wife were murdered by Oleander during the Great Quake of 1906.

Tamed Lightning had been…
…ruled by Countess January O’Leary, Simon and Sylvester’s niece.

Stacy Brown is one of Toby’s oldest and closest friends. Cassandra is Stacy’s oldest daughter. Karen is another daughter and an oneiromancer. Kerry is another changeling friend. Danny is a bridge troll who drives a taxicab. Dianda Lorden, a Merrow, is the Duchess of Saltmist. Patrick Lorden is her husband and Daoine Sidhe (he can’t breathe water); he’d been one of Simon’s best friends (and Baron of Twycross) when they were younger. Their sons include Dean, the Count of Goldengreen, who is Quentin’s boyfriend. Marcia is Dean’s seneschal in Goldengreen.

High King Sollys (in Toronto) is Quentin’s father. His queen, Maida, had been a changeling.

Fae holdings are “knowes“, anchored to the mortal world by enchanted doors. Doaine Sidhe are descended from Titania and Oberon through their daughter, Eira Rosynhwyr; Tuatha de Dannan are descended from Oberon alone; Dóchas Sidhe are two generations removed from Oberon and are a result of Amandine having a baby with a human. Acacia gave birth to the Blodynbryd, rose Dryads who, when they cut their hair, sow rose goblins. Selkies were born in slaughter. The Raven-mays were born in sacrifice.

The Cover and Title

The cover is a contrast in light and dark blue with purple overtones. It’s a long-haired, pointy-eared Toby in a black leather thigh-length jacket and a purplish gray high-wrap top in blue jeans, knife drawn and held ready to use, as she carefully glances about in a late-fall forest of huge, reaching, leafless trees. The light comes from the bright white of power shining from behind her, as cautious steps take her across a rock- and spider-web-strewn forest floor. The author’s name is at the top in an embossed, black-outlined silver font with the title in a distressed bright red at the bottom with the series information tiny below that in white. There’s a royal blue round medal just under the author’s name on the left announcing that October Daye was a Hugo Finalist in Best Series. Well deserved, in my opinion.

The title is a metaphor for August, as one of The Brightest Fell and has not understanding nor compassion.

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