Chimes at Midnight (October Daye #7) by Seanan McGuire
Chimes at Midnight is the seventh instalment in what has seriously turned into one of my favourite UF series. I love these books. Seriously. I have to take my hat off to the author for the vision that she clearly has for this story going forward – she’s not just rumbling along complacently, chucking in a few threats or plots every now and again to shake things up, this is a well constructed story where each successive books peels back yet another layer to reveal something fascinating and utterly addictive!
Speaking of addiction, this book gets off to an immediate start by resurrecting a thread that we left untouched in No.6 – that of goblin fruit. Goblin fruit is like a delicious and yet harmless drug to pure bloods, unfortunately it’s lethal to changelings and humans and in the last book Toby became aware of the fact that it seemed to be enjoying something of a rise in favour. Being a bit distracted with other calamities at the time Toby had to leave the problem to one side and as Chimes at Midnight begins she realises just how big a problem she’s facing. A number of changelings have already died through partaking of the fruit and Toby is wracked with guilt that she didn’t take action sooner. Of course, as we know by now, Toby isn’t one to sit around and let the grass grow and so she immediately rushes off to confront the Queen of the Mists and seek her help stopping the sale of this dangerous drug. New, as we also know Toby’s relationship with the Queen is rather touchy at the best of times and before you can say Oak and Ash Toby finds herself banished with three days to clear out of the Queen’s realm!
So, the gauntlet is down! And, just in case the threat of banishment from her home, family and friends wasn’t enough, Toby is still determined to bring an end to the goblin fruit market and she’s also faced with the task of finding someone – who I won’t elaborate upon further. Suffice to say that this really is the hunt for the needle in the haystack and to add to the drama it’s all a race against the clock – again, I won’t say why. Sorry *not sorry*.
I really enjoyed this book, in fact it was probably my favourite so far in that it really stunned me with some of the turns it took. Having read the previous books I was expecting something bad – in fact much badness – to hit Toby, but I never expected it to be quite what happens here. It was a shock, as much for me as for Toby I think. It made me realise how far her character has come, not just simply in terms of the way she’s written and her character development – it feels more than that somehow. I’m not explaining it very well really other than to say that the series started off in a very dark place with one rather sad and frankly quite lonely character who built a wall around herself as protection, as the series has progressed the wall has come down little by little allowing more people in and finally Toby has realised that she’s happy, she has friends and she’s loved. Of course, once her defences have been so successfully removed she’s in the position to see just how very much she now has to lose and in this story she gets to see that possibility all too clearly.
I mentioned above about McGuire having the long picture in mind and two of the main characters here are particularly relevant in that respect. One of the characters, although I say she’s a key character she’s actually conspicuous by her absence – Armandine. Toby’s mother. And the Luidaeg – Toby’s aunt, feared by most but I suspect loved by most readers of this series – she really could hold a book of her own no problem. But back to the issue – these two characters have a lot of history between them and little by little Ms McGuire is leading us to an inevitable reveal and the anticipation is just so good. A little like the slow build of Toby’s relationship with Tybalt the delicious expectation of what’s about to come is potent stuff – these pages are like goblin fruit themselves. I want the fruit, I know it’s going to be delicious but I really do fear the aftermath.
A great instalment. I can’t wait to read the next book and luckily I won’t have to wait long – there’s another readalong for No.8 over on Goodreads for anyone that’s reached this point in the series who might want to jump in. Details here.
A bloody good read – and I use the word bloody for a good reason as for much of the story Toby seems to be covered in blood – usually her own. Also – I forgot to mention the Library of the Stars – oh yes, I definitely want to visit this place.
I simply have no hesitation in recommending this series. It’s dark and yet it has humour, it has lots of twists and turns, slow reveals and gob smacking surprises. It’s a series that basically has a lot going on. A series of substance.