While the October Daye series didn’t start clicking for me until the third book, it has since become one of my favorite urban fantasy series. I love the expansive world building and even thirteen books in, the series keeps growing without conflicting with itself. I don’t know if McGuire always had this extended world in her head but didn’t know how much time she would have to explore it or if she is going novel to novel on the fly, but it has been such a delight. She also has created an amazing expanded cast of supporting characters but knows to use them appropriately, having them appear only when it makes sense to the narrative rather than simply trying to fit in all the fan favorites all the time.
I’m horrible about using my Audible credits, so I thought maybe a re-listen to the October Daye series would inspire me to actually listen to the books I downloaded. Given my lukewarm view of the first two, however, I chose to start with the third novel in the series, An Artifical Night.
In An Artificial Night, October Daye is called on the case when she receives a call from her best friend Stacy: her youngest child is missing, and her middle daughter won’t wake up from a coma like state. As Toby starts investigating, she quickly discovers more missing children, including members of the local Court of Cats. Tybalt asks October for her help, since he is not only missing some of his followers, but his heir, the Prince of Cats, was one of abductees. October turns to the Luidaeg for answers, and finds herself in Blind Michael’s court as he is preparing for his ride. If Toby can’t save the children before the ride, they will forever be members of his hunt.
Late Eclipses is the fourth novel. When Lily, a bit of a surrogate mother to Toby, and Luna, Sylvester’s wife, are both poisoned, Toby suspects her old enemy Oleander might be back. However, circumstantial evidence allows her enemies to easily make the case against her, so Toby is racing against time to save her friends’ lives and herself, all while questioning her own sanity. While Toby faces many challenges in later novels, I had forgotten how many people in leadership positions openly and inexplicably hated her in the early books, and they are very much present in this one, adding obstacles to an already difficult case.
One thing I discovered doing this re-listen is how some things occurred both much earlier and much later than I expected. For example, while May Daye, October’s Fetch/honorary sister, is a constant presence now, I thought she appeared later in the series. In fact, she has been around since almost the beginning. On the other hand, I thought Lily’s poisoning occurred earlier in the series. It’s actually amazing how much has happened and how much relationships have changed in the series.
The other thing that I enjoyed about doing a reread/listen was realizing how early the stage was set for later novels, such as Blind Michael’s Hunt and references to the Great Betrayer. Toby also discovered at least some of her mother’s secrets much sooner than I remembered, changing Toby’s concept of her identity. This also is a great way to explain any inconsistencies between novels since Toby herself was misled, and thus her earlier ignorance can explain any later contradictions.
The narrator did a great job, and having characters that are various centuries old, also allowed her to do older sounding accents to help distinguish between characters. While sometimes I don’t love how men voice women and vice versa, I didn’t find Mary Robinette Kowal’s Tybalt or Sylvester distracting.