I reviewed Chimes at Midnight, the seventh volume of Seanan McGuire’s October Daye series, back in 2013. After I finished The Winter Long (Book 8 in the series) in the fall of 2014, I celebrated by starting over at the beginning and rereading Books 1–7 in the span of about two weeks. I know some people always reread a series when a new one is on the way, but I have never been one of them.
The Winter Long, though, was a game-changer. Almost everything we thought we knew about the events of Books 1–7 was turned on its head. And the reread revealed that Seanan knew exactly what she was doing the whole time.
The only conclusion I can draw from this is that Seanan McGuire is an evil genius. (Kidding. I knew Seanan was an evil genius a long time ago.)
In A Red-Rose Chain (DAW, September 1, 2015), Book 9 of the series, the pace isn’t quite as intense as it’s been in the previous two installments. The stakes, though, are as high as ever. It begins with the new Queen’s seneschal being elf-shot, which leads to Toby being sent to the neighboring Kingdom of Silences as a diplomat in order to avoid a war between the two kingdoms. Fans of the series will know that Toby and diplomat are probably not words that should appear in the same sentence.
Toby gathers her team of Tybalt, Quentin, May, and resident alchemist Walther and heads to Silences. The things Toby and company learn there reveal a much, much darker side of Faerie—one that’s certainly been alluded to in previous books. To their surprise, they find their old nemesis, the former Queen in the Mists, at the side of Silences’ King Rhys. I wouldn’t have previously thought this possible, but the false Queen’s evil is somewhat dimmed by Rhys. The pair prove to be a formidable enemy.
These books are always difficult to review without spoiling too much, but I’ve said before and I’ll say again: Seanan’s character development and world-building are top-notch. Toby’s relationship with Tybalt continues to delight. This book also includes an expanded role for Walther, along with some interesting and masterfully-handled reveals and character moments.
And of course, it wouldn’t be a Toby story if the gang didn’t find themselves in some incredibly tight spots, and if Toby didn’t bleed a lot. (She does. A lot.) This installment is true-to-form in terms of adventure, if somewhat slower-paced than the previous ones, and some of the events have potentially far-reaching implications for the future of the series. Again, I don’t think fans will be disappointed.
A Red-Rose Chain is on shelves now. Once Broken Faith, Book 10, will be published in the fall of 2016.
Seanan McGuire wrote Finding Your Fairy Godmother: A Guide to Acquiring a Literary Agent for Absolute Blank in September 2009. We interviewed her alter-ego, Mira Grant, in April 2011. You can find her at Live Journal and on Twitter as herself and Mira Grant.