Once Broken Faith by Seanan McGuire (October Daye #10)
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: DAW on September 6, 2016
My thanks to the publisher for providing me with a digital review copy. No compensation was provided for this review, and all opinions are my own.
Politics have never been October “Toby” Daye’s strong suit. View Spoiler » When she traveled to the Kingdom of Silences to prevent them from going to war with her home, the Kingdom of the Mists, she wasn’t expecting to return with a cure for elf-shot and a whole new set of political headaches.
Now the events she unwittingly set in motion could change the balance of modern Faerie forever, and she has been ordered to appear before a historic convocation of monarchs, hosted by Queen Windermere in the Mists and overseen by the High King and Queen themselves.
Naturally, things have barely gotten underway when the first dead body shows up. As the only changeling in attendance, Toby is already the target of suspicion and hostility. Now she needs to find a killer before they can strike again—and with the doors locked to keep the guilty from escaping, no one is safe.
As danger draws ever closer to her allies and the people she loves best, Toby will have to race against time to prevent the total political destabilization of the West Coast and to get the convocation back on track…and if she fails, the cure for elf-shot may be buried forever, along with the victims she was too slow to save.
Because there are worse fates than sleeping for a hundred years. « Hide Spoiler
This review marks a very exciting first for me: I’m caught up wit a long-running urban fantasy series for the first time since I started blogging at Fine Print three years ago. Huzzah! I’m pleased that it’s with the October Daye series too, since it’s one of my favs – and no worries, my thoughts will be spoiler free for the whole series.
ONCE BROKEN FAITH marks an important turning point in both the life of Fae changeling October Daye and the series overall: she’s finally able to exert some political power. Throughout the series, Toby’s blood status as a changeling has pushed her to the margins of Fae society and has prevented her from being directly involved in Fae politics. Sure, she’s always been good enough to tackle the problems of the purebloods…but now she has a hand in deciding the future of pureblood society. Unsurprisingly, this change in Toby’s life means that ONCE BROKEN FAITH is a much more politically-driven novel than the previous installments in the series, but I didn’t mind sacrificing action for a longer glimpse into the political maneuverings of the Fae.
When Toby is called to give evidence in a hearing on elf-shot, the most dangerous weapon in Fae society, she knows it spells trouble. According to Oberon’s Law, it is an act punishable by death to kill a pureblood unless it’s in war; enter elf-shot, a poison that puts purebloods to sleep for one hundred years. That’s a serious consequence for even the long-lived purebloods, but elf-shot is deadly to changelings like Toby…changelings who are already at risk since Oberon’s Law only protects purebloods from being murdered. The status quo benefits purebloods, and there are those among them who will stop at nothing to ensure that Toby’s testimony doesn’t impact their use of elf-shot…
It’s not difficult to see the social commentary embedded in this plot arc. McGuire presents a justice system that is profoundly unjust, one that discriminates against marginalized peoples and adheres to the letter of the law rather than its spirit. Clearly there are many similarities between the real-world justice system(s) and that of the Fae, and while this is a timely issue McGuire is never heavy-handed in her portrayal. Given everything that Toby’s had to endure because of elf-shot and the fundamentally unjust Fae court system, this commentary makes perfect sense for the series AND has something to say about our own society. I found it profoundly satisfying to read about, especially since urban fantasy isn’t typically a politically-charged genre.
Aside from this plot line, ONCE BROKEN FAITH has all the hallmarks that I’ve come to expect from the October Daye series: fantastic character development, intricate plotting, and creative world building are all present here. Of particular note is Quentin, the teenaged pureblood Fae whose introduction to Toby was…less than stellar. Quentin has come a long way as a character, shedding a lot of his prejudice against other Fae races and changelings alike – he’s even a fan of humans now!
Add to all of this a continually queer-positive message and a number of central, happy queer relationships, and you’ve got all the characteristics I need in a favourite series. I’m sure you’re all tired of me gushing over these books, but I just can’t help myself – they’re that good!