One Salt Sea, by Seanan McGuire
September 3, 2011
October Daye has faced a lot of challenges since recovering from the transformation spell that ripped her from her human family at the start of this series. Lately, though, she’s accepted new responsibilities, formed new friendships, and she’s even given romance another shot. But when a kidnapping threatens to spark a war between the land fae and their dangerous cousins from the sea, everyone that Toby cares about is in the line of fire. She’s got three days to find the missing kids in a maze of old enemies, confusing allies, and uncomfortable secrets, or else her people will be left to fight – and possibly die – in a war that they’re unlikely to win.
We get to explore a new area of faerie this time, one that Toby doesn’t know much about. A couple of the established characters have connections to the Undersea, though, which brings up some interesting complications. There are plenty of twists that involve purely land-based drama as well, including several major shocks to both Toby’s surroundings and her personal life.
Toby’s had a lot of roles over the course of these books, and we see her move through most of them here. She often seems to feel out of her depth, but she compensates for that by really putting thought into how to act like the mentor or the countess or the friend that the people around her deserve. It’s nice to see a heroine making that level of effort towards caring for other characters, because sometimes novels get so caught up in saving everyone that the actual relationships fall through the cracks. I read too many books where I’m told how the characters feel about each other without really getting it on a gut level. But in this book, it’s easy to understand why Sylvester would be concerned about Toby even while he’s sick with worry over his daughter. It’s easy to understand why Tybalt is willing to stand up for her.
I’m pretty sure I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: this is the best urban fantasy series going. The mix of episodic action and ongoing story is spot on, and best of all, the longer-term arcs are really starting to pay off. It’s rare for me to find books that match my ideal pace so consistently. The stakes keep getting raised for Toby, but it happens in a smooth, natural way that doesn’t feel like the author’s just shaking things up without purpose.
This book has some really great emotional moments. It answers some questions and closes the door on a few chapters in October’s life. And like my very favorite series books, it leaves me immediately wanting more.