Book Description from Goodreads:

Toby thought she understood her own past; she thought she knew the score.

She was wrong.

It’s time to learn the truth.

Seanan McGuire’s debut Rosemary and Rue was an intriguing start to the October Daye series, and it became one of my favorite urban fantasies after reading the first few installments: there’s darkness and difficult choices, but endearing characters and amusing narrative and dialogue keep it from becoming overwhelmingly gloomy. Although I do find it annoying that Toby often misses the obvious, this does fit her character since she’s not really the reflective type. She’s the type to jump into the action feet-first and do whatever it takes to make things right, and she’s admirable because of her determination and heart. The books in the series kept getting better and better, and I was hooked.

Although I still enjoy the series and plan to keep reading it, I did not think The Winter Long was as good as most of the earlier books (and I thought the previous book ended the streak of the books continuing to get better as well). It’s possible that my expectations for this particular volume were much too high since the book description promised that Toby would learn the truth about her past, and the acknowledgments discuss that events in this book have been planned since the very beginning. While it’s true there are a lot of revelations, none of them were as surprising as I’d been expecting nor did they change much for Toby as a character. They certainly tie into her past in earlier books and some of what is learned will probably be more important to her story in future books, but I thought the new knowledge gained in this book was a letdown compared to the revelations about Amandine and therefore Toby’s magic in Late Eclipses. It seemed like the first half of the book mostly consisted of Toby being upset about learning the truth about one situation, wandering around to check on everyone, and then searching for answers that are rather conveniently found by simply showing up in the right place at the right time.

Earlier books in the series could be dark with terrible, lasting consequences, and another issue I had with this book was how easily anything potentially bad was resolved, often as a result of Toby’s magic. It’s beginning to seem like a rather convenient way to reset everything back to normal like it never even happened, which is making it difficult for me to be concerned about the characters being in danger anymore. (At the same time, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if I were being intentionally lulled into a false sense of security before everything awful in the universe happens in a later book.)

Although I didn’t enjoy it as much as most of the other books in the series, The Winter Long is an entertaining book with some high points. Despite her abilities becoming a solution to so many potential problems, I did like reading about Toby’s magic and what she discovers she can do with it. Her relationships with the other characters are also great, and it’s fun to read the conversations she has with them. Also, some of the new information learned in this book is interesting even if it’s not quite as earth-shattering or compelling as I’d been hoping.

While a couple of momentous events happened, I didn’t feel like The Winter Long advanced the series very much. It had the amusing dialogue that I’ve come to expect from these books, but Toby and her friends did not evolve as characters and any major obstacles thrown at them were quickly resolved with only temporary costs. It’s possible more will be done with the new knowledge gained in this book in future installments, but there wasn’t much in this book that surprised me—and I didn’t feel like most of what was revealed changed anything other than making Toby more knowledgeable about what had happened in the past.

My Rating: 7/10

Where I got my reading copy: ARC from the publisher/author.

My Reviews of Other Books in the October Daye Series:

  1. Rosemary and Rue
  2. A Local Habitation
  3. An Artificial Night
  4. Late Eclipses
  5. One Salt Sea
  6. Ashes of Honor
  7. Chimes at Midnight