‘Night and Silence’ is the twelfth book in the October Daye series, and I’m going to be clear up front – while I will try as hard as possible avoid around any explicit spoilers from this particular book, I will be referencing previous books in the series. I am not so super-skilled at review-ballet that I can cunningly dance around everything. So mild spoilers ahead.
The October Daye series has been going strong for a few years now, and I felt that the 11th book, ‘The Brightest Fell’, was a particular high point of the series; dropping bombshells left, right and centre. So naturally, I wanted to have high hopes for the latest instalment, but I was a little put off by the blurb.
“What she doesn’t need is the abduction of her estranged human daughter, Gillian. What she doesn’t need is to be accused of kidnapping her own child by her ex-boyfriend and his new wife, who seems to be harbouring secrets of her own. There’s no question of whether she’ll take the case. The only question is whether she’s emotionally prepared to survive it.”
Wait, hasn’t Toby’s daughter been kidnapped before in a previous book? And her father was shitty and blaming her for it? Pair that with the sorry state of Toby’s personal life and horrible trauma at the hands of Faerie she’s facing at the start of the story – all too familiar territory for her – and you might see why I was concerned that this novel would be spent retreading previous ground. As we are all too often revisiting the same cast of characters and often the same locations in this series, It’s always been something I thought we might be at risk of. How many books in the series don’t involve urgently calling on the Luidaeg, for example?
Now a massive amount of credit due to Seanan McGuire here, but this doesn’t turn out to be the case at all. And I am pleased to be proven wrong.
(Except for the calling on the Luidaeg part, that is. Of course, that happened.)
This book turned out to be one of the stronger entries of the series, and not only does it NOT feel like a re-tread, but it also manages to add to multiple aspects of the series in a meaningful way. And while it is less bombastic than the previous instalment, ‘Night and Silence’ does have a couple of ‘whoa’ moments of its own to offer. Without going into too much detail, there’s more backstory on Toby’s prior history as a knight, more revelations about her blood relatives (because the previous book didn’t have enough of that); and we learn more on what might have triggered the retreat of Faerie’s King and Queens. It’s all a bit of a roller-coaster; but a reasonably intimate one that digs into the strained relationship between Toby and her daughter, and how they might move on from here.
Since the series borrows so much from folktales and other faerie literature, I’ve found myself speculating on who else from these stories might exist in the October Daye universe. (I’m hardly alone here, and Dresden Files readers are probably all too familiar with this as well.) There have been a few characters that I’ve suspected will eventually show their faces in the books; and in ‘Night and Silence’, to my shock, one of them does! But the manner of their introduction and their link to October is just so surprising; it’s almost Pettingrew-esque. (Harry Potter fans? You will know exactly what I mean.) There is no way anyone could have predicted how they tied into everything, and it’s so left of centre, I suspect McGuire might be trolling us. Or at least feeling extremely gleeful about it.
But my favourite part of the book? A wry acknowledgement from Toby herself that she was a bit of a crap detective at the start of the series.
We know, honey.
So, despite initially having dulled expectations, ‘Night and Silence’ turned out to be a delightful entry into the series. My epub copy also contained a short novella from the point of a different character. I’d assume all versions of the book would have it, but it might be worthwhile to double check. While the book itself does a lot of revealing, the novella seems essential for setting up the next part of the story. It would be a shame to miss it.
So c’mon McGuire *cracks knuckles* What else have you got to throw at us? I’m ready!