The latest book in Seanan McGuire’s long-running October Daye urban fantasy series, Once Broken Faith, came out a little over a month ago. I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’m a McGuire fangirl. I love her writing, and I recommend this series every chance I get.
But now we’re 10 books in…and frankly, it can be a little intimidating to start a long-running series. I’ve seen many series lose steam and direction after a few books are out.
That’s not the case here.
I thought I’d break it down, point by point–the five reasons you should pick up the October Daye books if you haven’t already:
1) The long-term payoff. One of the big problem with long-running series is that they often lose focus as they go on. Not true with the October Daye books. You can tell that McGuire has a firm hand on her world and characters. Information will be revealed in one book that may not pay off until several books later. Even 10 books in, we are still waiting for answers to a lot of important questions. A lot of the tension in the story builds from the fact that other people know things that Toby herself does not. McGuire uses this tension skillfully, and it’s very much to the story’s benefit.
2) Fantastic worldbuilding. One of the things I’ve always admired about McGuire’s writing is her amazing ability to build worlds. Whether it’s the ghostly Midwest of yesteryear in Sparrow Hill Road or the mythological creature-rich world of her InCryptid series or a boarding school for kids who have been sucked into parallel universes in Every Heart a Doorway, McGuire has an incredible ability to create a world out of the fantastic that feels real in its vividness and complexity. In this series, fae live among humans, hiding in plain sight. There are rules, social norms, dress codes, territories, and conflicts, and they are all drawn out so vividly that you feel like you’re there.
3) Slow-burn romance. These books definitely sticks more to the urban fantasy side of the urban fantasy/paranormal romance spectrum, but that doesn’t mean Toby is completely romance-free. But it takes a long time to get there, and it may not be with the person you initially expect. But by the time you do get some payoff from the romance, you really feel like they’ve earned it. In addition, it’s not—shall we say—graphically depicted, so those who prefer less explicitness in their fiction are in the clear.
4) Real consequences. Some writers seem to believe that “fantasy” is essentially a “get out of jail free” card. Killed off a beloved character? Just bring them back to life! Burned down a major city during your epic battle? That’s okay, you can just use the magic restoration potion to fix everything. But in the October Daye universe, things stick. Bad things happen, and there are sometimes long-term consequences. McGuire is also—be warned—willing and able to kill beloved characters…permanently. But the bad things in Toby’s world make the good things seem all that much more special.
5) Great side characters. Sometimes in urban fantasy, the side characters don’t feel as complex or developed as the protagonist. Not so here. Everyone from the King of Cats to the ancient sea witch to Toby’s teenage squire to Toby’s death omen (long story, don’t ask) have rich, compelling inner lives. As a bonus, McGuire has written several short stories and novellas set in Toby’s world featuring many of these characters as protagonists. (Many of these stories are free on McGuire’s website.)
And as a bonus…
6) LGBT representation. McGuire is a very outspoken advocate for inclusion in fiction, and she practices what she preaches. Bisexuality is the norm in fae culture, particularly among pureblooded fae, so you get to see many of the characters engage in same-sex relationships. One of the secondary characters is also transgender, but we don’t find out until well after the character has been introduced, and it’s dropped into the story so casually you might forget about it. But the coolest part about the inclusion is that it’s not a big deal within the story. Nobody makes an issue of it, and it’s not the defining characteristic for any of these characters. They are not included in the story as the “token” queer characters; they each play roles in the story that have nothing to do with their sexuality or gender identification.
So there you go. If you haven’t done so already, pick up Rosemary and Rue. It’s a great book, and the books get stronger as you go along. And if you have, let me know what you think!
On another note…
My Goodreads giveaway is still running through November 11. I’m giving away 15 signed, personalized copies of my urban fantasy novel, The Demon Within, about a young woman who finds out that she’s half demon–just in time for the entire angelic population of Manhattan to start hunting her down. If you’re interested, you can enter here.