Chimes at Midnight (October Daye #7) by Seanan McGuire

chimesChimes 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.

 

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Chimes at Midnight (October Daye #7) by Seanan McGuire, readalong week 3

chimesToday is the third week of a four week readalong of Chimes at Midnight by Seanan McGuire.    How I’m loving this series and it feels as though each book just keeps adding more depth to the world created by McGuire.  Feel free to join us.  A Goodreads page is set up here or simply jump in with the comments.  Also, be aware that spoilers will be lurking below so be careful!

This week Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow is providing the questions so lets get a budge on:

1. “We took titles as a warning. ‘Stay away. Here there be monsters.'”

This week we learn the Luidaeg’s original name, and also that she really does, perhaps, have her sneaky ways of answering some of Toby’s unasked questions – or starting to, anyway. What speculations are you drawing from what we learn in Toby’s blood-vision? Given this teaser, what questions might you ask the Luidaeg if you were in Toby’s shoes.

Personally, if I was in Toby’s shoes I’d be gobbling those frozen blood pills down like they were candy in search of questions – which would probably be very unwise.  I’m getting from these flashbacks, and how ingenious of the Luidaeg by the way to come up with that, that Toby’s mum was very much trying to protect Toby – I don’t know if I’ve picked everything up but clearly Armandine is very powerful and clearly sometimes being so powerful is a risky business – why else would the other firstborn have the titles and ‘stay away. Here there be Monsters’ thing going on.  But, we had a different hint in this section – I think I would be asking just exactly who my father was if I was Toby – we know that one king already tried to hide his family to save them – what if Toby’s father wasn’t human.  Toby could be very powerful and maybe a potential threat to others – maybe in danger.  I don’t know, I’m jumping around all over the place but I’m beginning to wonder if Toby really is a changeling.

2. “I know a lot about being royal.”

Surprise! So the truth about Quentin’s background is out, and I’ve got to know: did you suspect this at all or did it in fact surprise you? Any predictions for the young squire-prince going forward from here?

I was completely surprised.  I’ve been making a lot of surprises about Toby but I really didn’t follow the breadcrumbs with Quentin and I was gobsmacked.  At least I didn’t have a pie in the face!  I really don’t know – will he be required to complete his time as a squire?  I can’t see how that would work really.  It feels like Toby has already started to change towards him and although she has always been a little bit protective I think she will feel differently towards him.  I don’t think it will affect their friendship – just maybe the way she feels about the whole situation or how comfortable she is ordering him around.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think Toby changes the way the acts around people depending on their status, I just think that knowing him to be a prince now will just change things.  You can’t ‘unknow’ it can you?  Perhaps Quentin could help Arden to become accustomed to her new role?  I definitely think that he would be a champion for Toby in the future which can’t be a bad thing – he’s seen how she works and how fair she is so…

3. “You protect your family by making the world a better place for them to live. Not by running away.”

Toby’s got some hard truths for Arden, and well she should know about them… Do you think Arden will stand by her choice here? And what do you think of October Daye looking set up to have the ear of the next Queen in the Mists?

Yes, for once I can see that maybe Toby won’t be hated by the Queen in the Mists – of course Arden will be a relatively innocent Queen – in terms of what she doesn’t know, she’s led a very innocent life in terms of the fae after all – I think she will need somebody like Toby, who tells her things the way they really are and doesn’t bow and scrape or curry favour or seek power.  In terms of Toby – having the ear of the Queen probably won’t make a difference – she’s not really seeking power or titles is she?

4. There’s plenty more to chew on in these chapters, but what parts stand out the most for you, and why?

So much in these chapters.  Where to start.  This book is so good.  I pretty much know that things are going to get so much worse before they get better or maybe that’s my pessimism sneaking in.  I want to know more about Quentin for a start.  Tybalt and Toby – very revealing that Toby finally has found her place – no more floundering around for her – she’s chosen where she wants to be and that might come with sadness over what she’s leaving behind but she is ready to move forward.  May – I think she might be getting ready to leave Toby and set up with Jazz but I could be wrong.  She’s always ready to step in and I think she’ll always be there for Toby but the scene where she was leaving with Toby to go to Muir and she was looking back at the house worrying about Jazz, well, I couldn’t help thinking that the two of them are becoming very serious and ready to move on together.  I loved reading about the Cu Sidhe – dog fae!  Especially winding down the window on Danny’s cab – why do dogs love to stick their heads out of car windows – which basically means a blast of cold air in the face – but yet they hate it if you blow in their face!  What is that.  Why?  And the Luidaeg – I can’t help thinking that everything could be improved by her appearance.  So tetchy and grumpy and pushing people around – but underneath it all – yeah, she’s still a grumpy puss, but she has heart.

 

 

Chimes at Midnight (October Daye #7) by Seanan McGuire, readalong week 2

chimesToday is the second week of a four week readalong of Chimes at Midnight by Seanan McGuire.    How I’m loving this series and it feels as though each book just keeps adding more depth to the world created by McGuire.  Feel free to join us.  A Goodreads page is set up here or simply jump in with the comments.  Also, be aware that spoilers will be lurking below so be careful!

This week I’m providing the questions so lets get a budge on:

Well, as ever I’m curious about the Luidaeg.  I used to feel as though she’d simply withdrawn from the world of the fae but the more I read the more it feels like she really is very restricted.  Any guesses why the Luidaeg is so restricted in what she can say and do?
I’m so all over the place with the Luidaeg.  What a fantastic character she is and how cunning of Ms McGuire to make us like her so much and hanker after more of her in these stories.  I can’t help feeling that I’m all over the place with this story line.  Or maybe I’m just too close to it – maybe it’s right in front of my eyes but I just can’t see it.  Everything about the Luidaeg involves water.  The water people are on Toby’s side at the moment, the Luidaeg is on Toby’s side.  Toby was turned into a fish – was that really as simple as it seems or was the choice of a fish meant to be something a little bit nasty, like a joke at somebody else’s expense!  Has there been some sort of war and the Luidaeg was banished to her own area and restricted from talking about virtually anything?  Did she accept these terms to save somebody else?  It’s so intriguing that I might actually pop.
Is it suspicious that there was an earthquake the night that Arden and Nolan’s parents were killed – was that part of something bigger or was it just pure chance.  Was somebody helping the Queen in the Mist to gain the throne that isn’t hers.
Frankly, and I’m probably barking up the wrong oak and ash here, but, I don’t particularly think the Queen of the Mists was smart enough to pull off a coup of this sort – yeah, I’m probably wrong, but she just doesn’t seem too savvy.  First of all, she’s sent Toby off with a flea in her ear and hasn’t even thought about the fact that she will start uncovering things.  Secondly, she just doesn’t come across as somebody with all the smarts.  She seems almost childish.  I can only assume that somebody was pulling the strings??
Marianne, the nurse who whisked Arden and Nolan away from danger, provided them with protective illusions and then left –  do you think she’ll turn up again?  Do you think this nurse could be known to us – or maybe in hiding somewhere?
Who is Marianne.  Come out come out wherever you are.  This whole storyline intrigues me.  From the king and the way that nobody ever saw him with his children or his partner. I understand the desire for separating your private life out from your public life but he really did take this to extremes.  Why?  I mean, did he have massive paranoia or was he just incredibly good at foreseeing the future because clearly he was right in terms of his family being under threat.  I need all the answers.
There was one particular comment in these chapters about no other Fetch having lived as long as May – I’m curious about that and worried in equal measure.  Why do you think May has lasted so long and does this bode ill?
Well, I’m hopeful that Fetch’s don’t usually last this long because the person that they have come for usually dies.  So, therefore, Toby is still alive (barely at the moment) so May is still alive.  I’m sticking with this theory because otherwise it means that there is doom and gloom on May’s horizon.
So, we’re searching for a Hope Chest – any ideas about firstborns that might be holding one??  Interesting too that the Hope Chest name was Goldengreen – any other guesses about names?
I’m rubbish this week, I really have no theories.  The only thing I can come up with is that maybe some of the other more recent knowes might also be named for hope chests?
A pie in the face – very slapstick and quite horrific how easy it is to become addicted!  We seem to be onto something with Toby’s blood helping to stave off the hunger, do you think this might be the key to a cure somehow?
Well, that was certainly a slapstick way to try and kill somebody wasn’t it!  And how awful.  It is strange because Toby’s blood seems to have brought her out of her sleep, it distracts her from her hunger and now that she has her very own blood M&Ms it seems she might be able to hold on for a little longer.We know that her blood abilities are strong, drugs travel in the blood stream – I don’t actually know what I’m talking about right now but maybe there is a cure just right in front of us – even if I can’t put my finger on it.  Yet.

Chimes at Midnight (October Daye #7) by Seanan McGuire, readalong week 1

Today is the first week of a four week readalong of Chimes at Midnight by Seanan McGuire.    I’m loving this series and it feels as though each book just keeps adding more depth to the world created by McGuire.  Feel free to join us.  A Goodreads page is set up here or simply jump in with the comments.  Also, be aware that spoilers will be lurking below so be careful!

First, a little about the book:

chimesThings 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 down…at 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.

Now to the Q&A hosted this week by Lisa at Over The Effing Rainbow:

1. We return to a couple of previously ‘spun’ story threads here, ie. Toby’s relationship with the Queen in the Mists, and the problem of goblin fruit on the streets in San Francisco – and the two are connected in ways Toby wasn’t expecting… Do you think the goblin fruit as a catalyst for Toby’s exile is just that, or did the Queen perhaps deliberately engineer this situation?

Well, from previous books we know that the Queen doesn’t like Toby and will use just about any excuse to get rid of her – even setting her up for execution!  So, I think there’s a good chance that the Queen knew that Toby would eventually show up at Court to discuss the problem of Goblin fruit.  Yes, deep down, I think the Queen has engineered this situation – she really does dislike Toby.

2. Speaking of queens and opposition, there’s a surprise revelation here: this queen was not the heir to her throne. Larger plots are kicking off now, and it seems the Luidaeg is deeply involved this time. What are your thoughts on this development, and where it might lead?

I was surprised but also not surprised by this revelation.  To be honest I really hadn’t guessed about the Queen not being the true heir – but, I knew something just wasn’t right.  I hope that this will lead to more revelations about the Luidaeg and why she seems to be so restrained in what she can and can’t say!  Clearly Toby is going to have to find the true heir and that’s going to be very interesting. And, let’s be honest – I love any story that gives me more about the Luidaeg!  She’s such a great character.

3. We also get some fresh exploring to do, in the Library of Stars! If you could visit a magical library like this, what sorts of books might you look for?

I would be like a child in a sweet shop.  I’d probably spend about an hour getting nowhere fast, dithering, and jumping from one thing to the other!  I think I would love to look at anything about myths and legends but more than that I would want to visit their SFF section!   Can you imagine – I can.  I have this idea that maybe they would have all sorts of original manuscripts for people like Wells, the Brontes, Tolkien – you could discover just about anything here and take it to that cosy living room between the shelves.  I think there’s a very real chance I would never re-emerge.

Plus, this:

‘librarianship is a form of heroism.  It’s just not as flashy as swords and dragons.’