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Night and Silence
October Daye #12
by Seanan McGuire
Daw, $26.00, 368pp
Published: September 2018

Seanan McGuire is so prolific that, by the time I run out of her books to read and review, all I have to do is take a quick nap and she'll have published another one. Here's 'Night and Silence', the twelfth in her ever-fresh series about October 'Toby' Daye, only six months after I devoured the last, 'The Brightest Fell'.

There are other things that we can safely count on Seanan to provide, because nobody does them better and one is the way that she summarises. It's the wildest understatement to point out that a great deal has happened in the eleven Toby Daye books and a comprehensive summary could easily fill a book of its own. However, McGuire is able to focus on the things that matter and sum them up so well for readers crazy enough to start here, a dozen books in, all while having a great deal of fun having some of her key characters chase around the back alleys of San Francisco trying to catch a bunch of escaped flying hedgehogs. Nobody summarises as naturally as Seanan McGuire.

Nobody hurls out earthshaking revelations like Seanan McGuire either and there's one of those here that means that I have to be very careful indeed what I mention and what I don't. Let's just say that even the Luidaeg is lost for words here, a hundred and seventy or so pages in, and that never happens. But here, the Sea Witch, the most dangerous character we've met thus far, firstborn of the fae, is justifiably gobsmacked. I love that and I love the fact that Seanan McGuire isn't just able to keep the shocks coming in a series this long but also that she does it so naturally that we could be forgiven for believing that she was building up to it all along.

To get from the summarising to the revelation, there are more traditional elements for us to work through. As is so often the case, someone is kidnapped and Toby is put onto the case. Here, it's a little more awkward than we usually see because the victim is Gillian, Toby's only daughter, and the people who are pleading with her to (or demanding that she) track her down and bring her home are the only 'parents' she really knows: her real father, Cliff, and her stepmother, Miranda, who brought her up during Toby's enforced absence. Now, time has passed, not just the fourteen years that Toby spent as a fish, so Gillian is all grown up and attending college at Berkeley.

And, even though Gillian is now entirely human, as Toby gave her the Choice a few books ago, when we could have been forgiven for thinking we'd seen the last of her, there seems to be magic afoot and that opens up a can of worms. Who remembers that Gillian even exists? And who cares, given that she has no fae blood left? What could their agenda be in kidnapping her? There are a lot of questions here and precious few answers until... and there I have to leave you on a heck of a cliffhanger because there's no way I'm spoiling this revelation.

I had to put this book down, after re-reading a couple of pages about half a dozen times, as lost for words as the Luidaeg, except for an unusual expletive, quietly muttered to avoid waking up my better half at crazy o'clock in the morning, given that, as usual, I didn't want to stop reading. I did, though, because I had to. Some revelations force that sort of behaviour and, frankly, this one's a peach. Its only negative side is that it totally overwhelmed the case at hand, which never carried the power it would otherwise have done. I won't say it didn't matter, but it became almost an afterthought.

In fact, I can highlight that this entire book unfolds over a single day of action, because it sort of had to. It's not going to be the case that we're going to remember from 'Night and Silence', even though it's conducted well and fairly, with a not entirely unexpected twist; everyone is going to remember the revelation that is surely going to resonate over the next however many books Seanan McGuire wants it to resonate through before she chooses to put it to bed and rook us between the eyes with another revelation.

I will add a few things, because they're not spoilers and are often unimportant in the grand scheme of things. It's fair to say that Tybalt is back, because he really had to be; it wouldn't have been fair to anyone, least of all us, to keep him gone. Toby meets a Baobhan Sidhe for the first time, which is rather impactful; this species of fae is a fair origin story for what we know as vampires. Don't worry, she doesn't sparkle. And...

No, I'm done. Suffice to say that, if you're a fan of urban fantasy and you want something a little different from the same ol' same ol', the Toby Daye books have become essential reading. Start at the beginning, with the first book, 'Rosemary and Rue', and persevere through the second, 'A Local Habitation' which is the weakest in the series and very likely to stay that way. After that, you'll be hooked, but keep your mind well and truly open, as 'The Winter Long', book eight, is where Seanan McGuire pulls the frickin' rug out from under your feet and you will find yourself reevaluating everything you've read thus far. Each novel since adds something more and this is no exception.

How can I be looking forward to a thirteenth book this much? Ah, yes. It's a Seanan McGuire.

By the way, as is becoming routine, there's a bonus novella included after this novel. This time out, it's 'Suffer a Sea Change' and it retells a portion of what happened in 'Night and Silence', but told from a different character's perspective, then continues on to take that angle to the point it needed. ~~ Hal C F Astell

For other books in the series click here
For other books by Seanan McGuire click here

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