A Local Habitation (October Daye #2)
ALH is the second in the October Daye series by Seanan McGuire. I’m really enjoying this series and have a strange feeling that it’s just going to get better and better. If you’re looking for a new Urban Fantasy series then you might want to give this a go. Also, beware of spoilers below as they will possibly be throwing a little party and I don’t want to spoil book No.1 for those of you who haven’t started the series yet!
In this second instalment we get off to a fairly immediate start. Following the events in Rosemary and Rue Toby seems to be settling down a little inasmuch as she’s started her detective agency work again – that is until Sylvester, her liege, gives her a special assignment. Sylvester is worried about his niece, Countess of Tamed Lightning, January O’Leary, who seems to have been out of contact for a while. Things may not be all they seem over at TL and Sylvester needs to check on his niece but also tread carefully so as not to start a potential incident with the neighbouring rival Duchy.
I must confess from the start that this book took me in a direction I never would have expected. Yes, I guess, the fact that Toby is an investigator and one with a special affinity to blood magic, is going to be a given, but what was unusual with ALH was the combination of new and old – and I won’t say much more than that for fear of spoilers.
What I can say is that there are murders aplenty, in fact I feared at one point that none of the inhabitants of Tamed Lightning would make it out alive, there is some great imagination and a lot of guesswork. I was like a maniac suspecting everyone at the drop of a hat (and usually quite firm in my own conviction until my latest suspect turned up dead)!
So, we have Toby, accompanied by her trusty assistant Quentin (a little bit like having a fluffy poodle puppy following you around!) I like this duo though and I’m kind of hoping that it will be repeated as it gives Toby somebody to have banter with. Connor also makes an entrance (a former love interest of Toby’s that was long since put to rest – although that doesn’t stop Connor from trying it on here and there). And, of course Tybalt puts in an appearance and brings with him his own blend of cool self assurance, wit and sizzling chemistry.
On top of this we make the acquaintance of a number of new changelings with different abilities – not least of which is a computer dryad – which, come on, how cool is that!
I won’t go into the characters too much – they all seem to have their own potential motives for being the murderer and for a while they had me jumping through hoops.
In terms of the setting. Well, I really enjoyed what McGuire did with ALH. She keeps all the focus on the Tamed Lightning setting which gives it an almost claustrophobic feel and helps to ratchet the tension. A bit like an old horror movie where a party of people are stranded at a house and one by one are being picked off. I can see that this could be an issue for some as it tends to give it less of a UF feel but I thought it worked perfectly with this particular story and helped to give it a feeling of being trapped and added to the threat somehow.
The plot. It’s a twisty turny whodunnit and, whilst I managed to see what was going on with some of the issues that were going on, I didn’t manage to second guess the ending.
In terms of criticisms. Well, this is a little like other UF series in that it takes a little while to build up the characters and the world. Frankly I don’t think you can have it any other way. The layers have to be put down book upon book otherwise it would be one huge info dump and a doorstopper size book! As it is I feel like McGuire is settling us in at a reasonable pace and keeping us enticed with her own strange additions to the UF universe – Night Haunts for example!
Very enjoyable second in series and I’m looking forward to No.3.
If you’re interested in joining in with this series we’ll be picking up the next book as part of a readalong shortly. I’ll post details here soon.