The premise of this book seemed really fascinating as did the fantasy elements. Unfortunately, the story turned out to be a snoozefest....moreDid Not Finish
The premise of this book seemed really fascinating as did the fantasy elements. Unfortunately, the story turned out to be a snoozefest. Nothing really exciting happened. There was a whole lot of talking and moving around from one location to the next, but very little action dispersed throughout. The romance was incredibly superficial & unbelievable as were several actions & motivations of the two protagonists. Furthermore, I never connected with the heroine and could not buy for one second that she was a badass assassin.(less)
The thing that made this book worthwhile for me was the protagonist, Raylene. Raylene, a vampire and professional thief, is definitely not the traditi...moreThe thing that made this book worthwhile for me was the protagonist, Raylene. Raylene, a vampire and professional thief, is definitely not the traditional urban fantasy heroine. In fact, Raylene has no true intention to do or be good. This is not to say that she's evil and goes out of her way to hurt people. However, she's not against stirring up a bit of trouble, and she has no qualms with breaking the law to accomplish her goal(s). I appreciate the way Cherie Priest characterizes Raylene. Raylene has an interesting mix of traits that make her quite likable and memorable. She is snarky and a bit cynical but not in an exaggerated way. She's amusingly paranoid, which given her profession of penetrating other peoples' defenses makes total sense. I also like that she constantly tries to convince herself that she's a lot tougher and uncaring than she really is. Repeatedly she tries to reinforce her "lone wolf" status but there are very visible & significant cracks in that facade right from the start (and these cracks only deepen & expand as the story progresses).
Moreover, Raylene's character addresses the nature of a vampire in a interesting "middle ground" sort of way. In other words, vampires are presented as dangerous predators with killer instincts. This includes Raylene, who turns a couple of humans into meals quite efficiently. Nonetheless, as Raylene points out, vampires despite their dangerous nature are still people who are able to feel pain & emotions--they bleed, they die, they love, they grieve, etc.
I also really liked the character of Adrain aka Sister Rose, an ex-Navy SEAL turned drag queen. Yes, you read that correctly. Once again, the way Cherie Priest writes this character is utterly entertaining. One minute he's the typical flamboyant RuPaul persona and the next he's a sexy, kickass macho man. I love his interactions with Raylene, and I think they have great chemistry together.
On the flip side, there were some things that simply did not jive well with me. The mystery plot line centering on a secret government experiment involving supernaturals was really not riveting at all in my opinion. Despite lots of action, it seemed kind of underdeveloped and rushed. Plus, there was a certain aspect involving recruitment of civilians that appeared outright silly to me.
The other important supporting character, turned love interest, was rather dull as well. Unlike Raylene and Adrian, Ian, a blind vampire, comes off very two-dimensional and underdeveloped. And speaking of the romance, it seemed completely tacked on...almost as though it was an afterthought. There was really zero chemistry between Raylene and Ian, and I'm unable to see why these two are coupled together aside from fulfilling the purpose of the mandatory romance angle now seen in most urban fantasy books.
This is the third installment in the October Daye series and, in my opinion, the best. In fact, it has now propelled this series to almost the very to...moreThis is the third installment in the October Daye series and, in my opinion, the best. In fact, it has now propelled this series to almost the very top of my Absolute Must Read list, coming in second to the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews. From book one, I was a fan, but now I'm also an addict, itching to get my next fix.
I think what really made this book rise above the previous two installments is its plot. The stories Seanan McGuire crafts are always exciting and fascinating. This time, the action was virtually nonstop and there were unexpected twists & developments starting in chapter two and continuing through to the very end. I never knew what was going to happen next; I was on the edge of my seat the whole entire time. Toby was taken to hell and back with multiple return trips. Despite the tense roller coaster ride, the plot never seemed convoluted. On the contrary, it was tightly & deftly woven without obstructive loose threads or questionable plot devices. The story made sense and was brimming with suspense, danger, and full-bodied emotions.
Another aspect that I can't help rave about is the rich assortment of characters and their development. Toby is of course the standout. She is funny, smart, brave, and completely devoted to the people she cares about. No matter how great the trouble, she will not stand idly on the sidelines while innocent people (human or faerie) are threatened. She has values and principles that she holds steadfast to no matter what. And despite being totally kick-ass, she has a vulnerable side. Toby isn't too proud to admit to being scared and tired of constantly having to fight. She knows that others look at her as a hero, and she acknowledges and partially resents the weight of that responsibility. There were several moments in the book that made my heart break a little for Toby and made her that much more real to me. One such moment was when she asked where her hero was. I seriously wanted to jump into the book and tell her, "You're not alone; I've totally got your back, girl."
The other characters are also well fleshed out with very distinct and entertaining personalities. What's really great (and something you don't always see in other books) is how, in addition to the protagonist, some of the supporting characters grow and change throughout the series. Take for example the Luidaeg. She was introduced in the previous installment as a scary sea witch that didn't care about anything or anyone besides herself. She was mean, kinda crazy, and didn't seem to have much of a conscience. Now, she has developed an unlikely friendship with Toby that has notably chipped away at the ice that has surrounded her heart for countless years. She's still foulmouthed and intimidating, but she is starting to care and actually take action to help Toby in her endeavors to protect others. This also brings up the point of the wonderfully complex relationships that are further explored in this book. Despite trying to keep everyone at arm's length for fear of getting them hurt, Toby is surrounded by people that care about her. The relationships she has with each one of these people are unique and deep. The one relationship that I'm particularly fascinated by is the hate-love dynamic between Toby and Tybalt, the sexy king of cats. It's both entertaining and frustrating how dense she is about the obvious fact that she holds a very special place in his heart. I have a feeling that when Seanan McGuire decides to finally give this relationship more story time, some serious sparks are gonna fly.
Finally, I have to mention the writing. It is beautiful and witty. Seanan McGuire truly knows how to bring Toby's world to life. The environments are vividly described—some breathtaking and others gritty. There is lots of rich mythology that plays an intricate and profound role in the story development. And Toby's voice is wonderfully expressive and emotive.