Ashes of Honor is the sixth book in the October Daye series by Seanan McGuire. The first five books in this urban fantasy series are as follows:
All links go to reviews so if you are not caught up on the series, you can read about one of the previous books. I would suggest avoiding this review if you do not want events in any of the previous books to be spoiled.
There are at least four more books planned with one coming out every year in September through 2016. Chimes at Midnight will be the next book.
Toby is having a night full of unlikely surprises. First, she’s shot by a group of kids she’s trying to stop from dealing fae drugs. Next, she’s taken in for questioning by a police officer who heard the gunshots. Yet the biggest surprise of all awaits her at home – a visit from Etienne, who has had some shocking news and needs Toby’s help.
While Sylvester was grief-stricken with the disappearance of his wife and daughter, Etienne had a relationship with Bridget, a human woman. When his duties kept him from being able to get away anymore, Etienne lost touch with her and never heard from her again until now. Bridget called to inform him that their daughter, Chelsea, suddenly vanished on her way home from school. As a folklore professor, Bridget knows exactly what Etienne is and assumes the faeries took her daughter – and she is very insistent that he return her.
Etienne was completely unaware of the existence of his daughter and does not know if she was taken or if she simply discovered her ability to teleport that she inherited from him. He didn’t know who else to turn to other than Toby, finder of missing children and a changeling like his own daughter, and wants to hire her to find Chelsea. As always, Toby agrees to do what she can to bring Chelsea back and immediately begins tracking her down. The more she searches, the more she learns just what a dire situation they may all be in. Chelsea is a rare changeling who has extreme power without the limits a fae should have. She’s been teleporting into parts of Faerie sealed away by Oberon himself and upsetting the very fabric of Faerie. If Chelsea can’t be stopped, all of the faerie realm may suffer for it.
The October Daye series has become on of my favorites, and it just keeps getting better and better. The fourth book in this series was wonderful, particularly as it dealt with revealing the truth about Toby’s heritage. After that, the last book was also incredible with quite the emotional ending when Connor died and Toby’s daughter chose to keep her humanity. It was with a mixture of excitement and trepidation that I started this sixth installment since I wasn’t sure how it could possibly manage to be as good as the last two books. While I enjoyed the beginning because spending time with these characters is like visiting with old friends, I was also a bit worried that this book wouldn’t have much new to offer. The premise – Toby searching for a missing child – is one that keeps coming up in this series. The way it began with a scenario that ended up having nothing to do with the rest of the book, the trip to enlist help from The Luidaeg, and the convenient magical device from The Luidaeg were also very familiar. It was fun from the start, but I was initially concerned that with this many books in the series the books were going to start getting stale and repetitive.
These concerns of mine were completely silly and unfounded, and Ashes of Honor ended up being my favorite book in the series yet. The second half kept me on the edge of my seat and my husband can attest to the fact that I was quite literally exclaiming about how awesome it was. Yet the fast pace did not mean sacrificing character development or emotionally charged scenes. McGuire managed to keep a finely tuned balance between focus on moving the plot along and developing the characters just right. Much of the appeal of this series for me is the characters and how alive they all are, especially Toby herself with her humorous narrative voice. The banter and dialogue are so natural and hilarious to read, and I love the camaraderie the characters have when they talk to each other. At this point, they really are like old friends and each has his or her own way about them that belongs to them.
On the subject of characters, much of my love for this volume is probably also due to the fact that this is very much a Tybalt book and he gets a lot of page time. Not only is he present a lot, but some is revealed about his past and the Court of Cats is quite important in this particular book. So, fellow Tybalt fans, rejoice!
Toby remains the star, though. She has grown so much and come such a long way since the first book. As much as I enjoyed the second book, I did get irritated with her for her ability with solving the mystery. Since that book, she has been much better and her competence and level-headedness in this book were quite an improvement. I’m glad to see that many of her foibles were a temporary condition and that she’s not stuck in a cycle of repeating the same mistakes. At the beginning of this book, her grief is still fresh from the last book even though it’s been a year, but there’s also not a lot of time spent dwelling on angst. It is very much a book about moving on with your life, but I think starting it with enough time between this and the last book kept it from being too melancholy and heavy. Toby learns about herself and others, and I really liked where she ended up by the end. The ending managed to be as memorable as the one in the previous book, but in a completely different way.
My one complaint about this book is the same one I’ve had about many of the others: there is quite a bit of infodumping about what went on previously and who Toby is, especially toward the beginning. While this does at times slow down the progression of the book, it’s not a major enough problem to dwell on when the rest of the book is as good as it is.
Ashes of Honor is yet another exciting, funny, and emotional installment in the October Daye series. It further develops the world and characters while maintaining the right balance between a a fast-paced story and character development. Furthermore, it makes Toby deal with tough issues without making these tough issues a stumbling block for story progression. I can’t wait to see what happens in the next book.
My Rating: 9/10
Where I got my reading copy: ARC from the author.