I was looking at reviews of the previous novel in this series, Night and Silence, and discovered that it had a rather mixed reception. My own review was positive but I can also definitely see why people would have had issues with the previous novel. I loved the further revelations about the wider world of Fae, the discovery of Amandine’s origins (ie the rest of her parentage), and other family line discoveries that Toby made – I don’t remember finding the mystery itself that exciting. Like others, I don’t like Gillian much, I find her rather boring and annoying as a character, and I would have been happy to keep her written out of the series rather than bringing her back.
Since the only way to save Gillian was to give her a Selkie skin, she is a part of this novel as well. She has a lot of anger towards her mother, justified from her view since she couldn’t possibly understand the Fae world before, and yet, she seems to have no interest in sitting down with Toby to have a real discussion now that she knows there is more to the world. Despite everyone telling her to keep her resentment private, she insists on acting like a petulant child in public. Liz Ryan, the former lover of the Luedaig and leader of one of the Selkie clans, is also rather angry and sulky about life and the pact that has led to this final reckoning for the Selkies, so at least she is in good company.
Years ago, humans killed the Roan, and stripped them of their skins, believing it would give them immortality. The Roan’s firstborn mother, the Luedaig, put magic into the skins, and made a deal with the children of the murderers but also promised that one day the debt would be paid. That day has finally come because the Luedaig made a promise and with Toby’s blood changing abilities, she finally has the means to make due on the promise. Given the curse on her, the Luedaig cannot break a promise, so even as she is reluctant to destroy the Selkies’ way of life, she must make good on her promise and bring the Roan back.
Luedaig summons the Selkies to the Duchy of Ships, a neutral ground, and brings Toby and some of Toby’s friends along. As if this upcoming upheaval to the lives of the Selkies isn’t enough, Dianda’s brother also decides this is a good time to rebel against his sister, and accuse her of treason.
While Toby’s role in this gathering eliminates all her debts with the Luedaig, she quickly makes new ones to help Dianda, and one of her new debts should make for an interesting next novel or two. It’s something she already planned on doing at some point, but with it being part of a deal with the sea witch, Toby won’t have many excuses to delay that quest much.
While I liked the previous novel, I enjoyed this one more – it wrapped up a long running story regarding the Selkies, set the stage for the new upheavals in Fae, gave more information on Firstborns and had an engaging main plot. I hope Toby and Gillian have a talk soon because if they don’t, I really don’t need more resentful, sulky teen daughter plots in these novels, so they either need to come to an understanding or Gillian just needs to remain a character the reader knows is living off on the coast somewhere but doesn’t have to see.