Night and Silence—Seanan McGuire
Y'all, it's release date, which means I am cutting it just past the wire as I finish this one. I was stoked to be approved for an ARC of Night and Silence, this twelfth book in the series, because I love it and I love Toby Daye as a character and because I love Seanan McGuire (who lives in Seattle!)
BUT the only downside is that I had to re-read all of the other books, and there are 11 of them (not including novellas or other stories) so it took a minute.
All that to say, I finally finished this one today. And whew was it worth all of the lead up and the wait. So many secrets revealed, so many new adventures primed.
First, a quick recap of where we've come from. October "Toby" Daye is a changeling—that is, the child of a fae parent and a human parent. A long time ago, she made the changeling choice and opted for the fae side of her, only unfortunately her fae mom was not really interested in being a mother to her. Toby is also a private detective in the Bay Area. In her first adventure, Toby is unceremoniously turned into a fish while pursuing her liege's kidnapped wife and kid. Even more unfortunately, she stays a fish for 14 years. Bummmer. And then throughout the next books, she goes on many more, mostly life-threatening adventures, gathering friends and family and unveiling secrets along the way. McGuire infuses quite a lot of Shakespeare into this series: all of the titles of the books are taken from Shakespeare quotes, many of the characters have Shakespeare-inspired names, Toby herself is a big fan, and as fae are immortal, some of them were contemporaries of old Willy Shakes himself, so it all comes full circle.
I played a fun game while re-reading where I renamed all of the books as if they were Harry Potter books. Night and Silence I renamed "Toby Daye and the Old Home Week."
One thing that is great for new readers: while you can (and in my opinion, absolutely should) start from the beginning, McGuire does a fairly good job of recapping essential information as she goes through the new books in the series, so although you of course won't get the whole action of the previous books, you can get the gist and not be completely lost.
In Night and Silence, Toby's estranged, college-age human daughter Gillian has been kidnapped, Toby's pretty sure by somebody from faerie (so nothing she can explain to her ex and his new wife when they are curious about where the daughter might have gone), and Toby has to track her down. This isn't the first time that Gillian has been kidnapped because of Toby, but it is a bit more dangerous this time around, for a number of reasons. Toby's made quite a few enemies over the years, so the list of people who might want to punish or blackmail her by taking her daughter is pretty extensive.
I can't really get into too many more details without giving bits away, and the bits are too good to give away. Boy are them some doozy secrets revealed in this one. It feels like a whole new beginning for Toby and a refresh for the series (not that it needs it). I have to admit, when I saw the synopsis for the book, I thought to myself, "Again? She gets kidnapped again?" Especially since some of the characters that pop up as villains once again are folks that we thought were vanquished. Are we never going to be able to trust that someone is dealt with and/or dead, for real? But all of those thoughts went out the window as the story went on, with ever-increasing stakes and a satisfying resolution that left me wanting to read the thirteenth book in the series immediately. (Alas.)
One of my absolute favourite things about this series is the family that McGuire has built around Toby. I think many of us can relate to the idea of our biological families not always being what we need them to be, and of constructing a chosen family around ourselves to fill the gaps. That's truly what Toby has around her now, and they all grok her on such a deep level that it often brings tears to my eyes. The unspectacular way that McGuire has introduced such a diverse range of characters and experiences among the gang is aspirational. And I will always want to be a little bit like Toby: selfless and reliable to a fault, enormously gooey with a hard shell, and endlessly sarcastic. (I think I got that last one pretty well down, actually.)
I highly recommend this series if you are at all interested in faerie/fairy stories, or magic, or just generally awesome fantasy with spectacular and intricate worldbuilding. And if you like this series, Seanan McGuire has written other books under her name, as well as pseudonyms for other genres. They're all stellar.