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September 3, 2017

Review & Excerpt: The Brightest Fell by Seanan McGuire

by MK French



In the eleventh book of the October Daye series (named after the main character), she finally has a bit of peace. She can have a bachelorette party and take a break from being a hero of the realm... until her mother Amandine ransoms her fiance Tybalt and Jasmine so that Toby is forced to find her sister, who went missing in 1906. Toby has no choice but to go to Simon Torquill for help, and hope he still doesn't want to do her harm.
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The Brightest Fell
September 2017; DAW; 978-0756413316
ebook, print (368 pages); fantasy
It might be a bit hard for newer readers to jump into the eleventh book of a series, especially when there are convoluted relationships and histories for a lot of the characters. Some we've seen before are back, like Danny and Walter, and some like Simon we thought we would never see again. But Seanan McGuire has a way of finding the loose ends we don't realize were there and making us feel bad about forgetting about them.

There's a bit of a backstory given with the characters, just enough to serve as a reminder for those that did read the series, and enough to help a newer reader gloss over and keep going when the action starts. While we already know a lot of Toby, this gives us more insight into the family dynamics, the powers that she has developed, and even makes us feel a little bit sorry for Simon Torquill and the choices he made prior to the start of the series. A little, because he still doesn't regret his actions and would do them all over again.

The pacing in the novel is breakneck, even after the deadline of fourteen days is given. Time is always of the essence when Toby is involved in something because lives always hang in the balance.

She's come a long way since the first book in the series, Rosemary and Rue. There, Toby is drawn into the world of faerie against her will after both sides of her changeling heritage left her feeling broken and damaged. There were so many flaws and edges, and she had to be forcibly pulled out of her pity party. It was a darker side of Toby, and she's grown a lot since then. There is still the sarcasm and wariness, but this time it's also tempered with hope.

She is still brash and can charge into a situation to do The Right Thing, but now she's learned to accept the help of others around her. She no longer rejects others automatically and doesn't feel that she's all alone in the world. Toby understands her place in the world, between faerie and human, and this time actually wants the gifts that she had developed over the course of the series. There is inevitable loss and pain - blood magic and the deals with the fae never come cheaply.

We are also given a novella Of Things Unknown along with The Brightest Fell. This gives us a look into what the citizens of Tamed Lightning have been up to since the events of A Local Habitation, the second book in the series. It's told from April O'Leary's point of view, and we get an interesting look at what it's like to live within code and data streams, as well as see what has gone on in the county.

It's a novella, so we don't delve too deeply into the lives of characters other than those that touch April's most directly, Li Qin especially. I'm sure there's going to be a lot of fallout as a result of the events in the novella, which will be wonderful to read about.

Buy The Brightest Fell at Amazon


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Excerpt

October 9th, 2013
Angels are bright still, though the brightest fell .—William Shakespeare, Macbeth.

THE FETCH IS ONE of the most feared and least understood figures in Faerie. Their appearance heralds the approach of inescapable death: once the Fetch shows up, there’s nothing that can be done. The mechanism that summons them has never been found, and they’ve always been rare, with only five conclusively identified in the last century. They appear for the supposedly significant—kings and queens, heroes and villains—and they wear the faces of the people they have come to escort into whatever awaits the fae beyond the borders of death. They are temporary, transitory, and terrifying.

My Fetch, who voluntarily goes by “May Daye,” because nothing says “I am a serious and terrible death omen” like having a pun for a name, showed up more than three years ago. She was supposed to foretell my impending doom. Instead, all she managed to foretell was me getting a new roommate. Life can be funny that way.

At the moment, doom might have been a nice change. May was standing on the stage of The Mint, San Francisco’s finest karaoke bar, enthusiastically bellowing her way through an off- key rendition of Melissa Etheridge’s “Come to My Window.” Her live-in girlfriend, Jazz, was sitting at one of the tables closest to the stage, chin propped in her hands, gazing at May with love and adoration all out of proportion to the quality of my Fetch’s singing.

May has the face I wore when she appeared. We don’t look much alike anymore, but when she first showed up at my apartment door to tell me I was going to die, we were identical. She has my memories up to the point of her creation: years upon years of parental issues, crushing insecurity, abandonment, and criminal activities. And right now, none of that mattered half as much as the fact that she also had my absolute inability to carry a tune.

“Why are we having my bachelorette party at a karaoke bar again?” I asked, speaking around the mouth of the beer bottle I was trying to keep constantly against my lips. If I was drinking, I wasn’t singing. If I wasn’t singing, all these people might still be my friends in the morning.

Of course, with as much as most of them had already had to drink, they probably wouldn’t notice if I did sing. Or if I decided to sneak out of the bar, go home, change into my sweatpants, and watch old movies on the couch until I passed out. Which would have been my preference for how my bachelorette party was going to go, if I absolutely had to have one. I didn’t think they were required. May had disagreed with me. Vehemently. And okay, that had sort of been expected.

What I hadn’t expected was for most of my traitorous, backstabbing friends to take her side. Stacy—one of my closest friends since childhood—had actually laughed in my face when I demanded to know why she was doing this to me.

“Being your friend is like trying to get up close and personal with a natural disaster,” she’d said. “Sure, we have some good times, but we spend half of them covered in blood. We just want to spend an evening making you as uncomfortable as you keep making the rest of us.”

Not to be outdone, her eldest daughter, Cassandra, had blithely added, “Besides, we don’t think even you can turn a karaoke party into a bloodbath.”

All of my friends are evil.

As my Fetch and hence the closest thing I had to a sister, May had declared herself to be in charge of the whole affair. That was how we’d wound up reserving most of the tables at The Mint for an all-night celebration of the fact that I was getting married. Even though we didn’t have a date, a plan, or a seating chart, we were having a bachelorette party. Lucky, lucky me.


My name is October Daye. I am a changeling; I am a knight; I am a hero of the realm; and if I never have to hear Stacy sing Journey songs again, it will be too soon.

Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and golden retriever.

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2 comments:

  1. hahhahahahha. Love the excerpt. And love her attitude and her friends.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Another great excerpt! I don't mind jumping into a series in the wrong place. Just makes the reader think a bit harder and sometimes it's very tempting to go and find out what happened in the beginning with all the characters.

    ReplyDelete

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