The Holy Terror's Reviews > A Local Habitation

A Local Habitation by Seanan McGuire
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May 08, 11

bookshelves: urban-fantasy, fairies, bought-02-10, color-yellow, owned, dumb-female-characters, magic, 2010
Read from April 20 to 21, 2010

I really wanted to like this one. I did. But it was bloated and Toby was a terrible detective. Let me explain...

Toby gets a visit from Sylvester, her liege, just as she's starting to pick up the pieces of her life from the last book. He wants her to check on his niece, January, over in another kingdom because she hasn't check in for a few weeks. January's county is situated in between his and another Duchess's lands so if he goes to help her there would be political conflict. So he asks Toby to go instead and she agrees because she always helps him when he asks a favor. January is actually the boss at ALH, a computer company of sorts, and when Toby gets to the office building she finds out that all is definitely not alright with Sylvester's niece. And what Toby ends up uncovering is something she never could have dreamed up, and probably something she wishes she had never stumbled upon.

I'm gonna start with the positives. I like the cover art for the book. I like that the author weaves in a lot of faerie lore that hasn't been overused in other novels. Tybalt is intriguing, but at this point, barely a bit player. Finding out what/who the nighthaunts are was also pretty cool. I appreciated the pronunciation guide at the beginning.

Now, for the not so positives.

Toby is stupid. Or at least, she shouldn't be a detective. Look for another line of work, girl. There were three main mysteries throughout the novel: Who was killing people, why they were doing it, and what exactly was going on with Alex and Terrie. I figured out two of the three mysteries before the first 100 pages were up. And with a book that was almost 400 pages, this was incredibly frustrating. I understand that as a reader we have better insight into the whole picture, but come on. I actually think most of the time I'm pretty dense when it comes to mysteries, but I felt like I was hit over the head repeatedly with who the villain was. I honestly don't understand why it took her so long to put the pieces together.

And it dawned on me just about instantly what was going on with Alex and Terrie even though it's not something I've come across frequently. It was something new, but at the same time it was made abundantly clear what was going on with them. Some might think under the circumstances Toby's judgment was clouded, but I think that's just a cop-out. She should have figured it out, it wasn't that hard.

The third thing, exactly why the killings were going on did elude me until the end, but I think that's only because it was so far-fetched and not something you'd expect in faerie-land. I don't mind being surprised though, I wish I had been for the whole novel and not just the last 20 pages or so.

Now, the part about it being bloated. This book is just chock-full of repetition; Toby getting lost, Toby remarking about how the scenery is different when she looks out the windows, Toby saying how the knowe changes at its whim, Toby drinking coffee, Toby telling people to stick together, people not listening, Gordan bitching Quentin and/or Toby out, Toby drinking more coffee, Quentin wanting to grow up and stay and help, Toby wanting Quentin to grow up but leave and be safe, Toby trying to figure out the murders while more people die, Toby hurting herself, Toby drinking even more coffee (why doesn't this girl have to run to the bathroom every second?!?), everyone that's left getting mad that Toby hasn't figured anything out yet, the cats congregating on the lawn ... lather, rinse, repeat. I honestly think over 100 pages of this monotony could have been cut to streamline the story better.

ARGH. I'm so frustrated with this book. This one made me so mad that I'm questioning whether I really liked the first one as much as I thought I did. I didn't even like Toby at all in this one but at the same time I really didn't even get a feel for her character, she was running around so much and missing clues while her personality was never really developed that well. She seemed so flat and disconnected that I didn't really care what happened to her. Strangely enough, the only character that I even had any emotion for was Sylvester and I think he's maybe present for all of 10 pages.

I'm not really looking forward to the next book like I was looking forward to this one after reading Rosemary and Rue. I was really hoping this one would be great but it turns out it's been a sophomore slump. I will buy the third book, because I'm guessing we'll find out more about her mother and that's something I've been curious about, but I'm not going to be running to the book store on its release date that's for sure.

Check out my review for books one and three in this series: Rosemary and Rue, An Artificial Night.
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Reading Progress

04/20/2010 page 0
0.0%
04/20/2010 page 112
29.71% "I think I know what's going on with Alex and Terrie - I just don't know what they are!" 3 comments
04/20/2010 page 150
39.79% "Ok the villain is so obvious it's painful and Toby better figure things out! I actually hope I'm wrong because I still have 227 pages to go" 12 comments
04/21/2010 page 302
80.11% "Bleh. Well I called that one almost 200 pages ago."
04/21/2010 page 327
86.74% "Ding ding ding! You finally figured it out Toby! Good for you! ::sarcasm::"
04/21/2010 page 348
92.31% "Didn't you say earlier that the catwalk looked like something a dumb blonde would use in a horror movie? Sigh ... come on Toby ..." 1 comment
04/21/2010 page 355
94.16% "Now of course we need the villain to deliver a drawn-out monologue to give Toby the chance to save the day..." 7 comments
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Comments (showing 1-18 of 18) (18 new)

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CJ - Drop Dead Cute I somehow feel like I've failed you here. So I offer you 1 hug and 1, yeah, I never thought that Toby was a good detective but I did think the book was more about Toby's gradual awakening of her abilities and her tolerance level than the actual mystery. I actually did enjoy the book but it might be because I wasn't clever enough to figure out the murder/ress before the end of the book (every time I thought I knew I would get distracted!).

However, yes, I do agree that the monotony of the coffee drinking and the flat-out ignoring of sound advice could've been cut down but I also feel these books are more character driven then plot driven so that could be why the 'paint-by-numbers' mystery was so irksome?


The Holy Terror See that's the thing though, I thought the characters were weak, Toby especially. Did she grow? I honestly didn't see it. She didn't get to use her magic at all either except near the end.

And I wonder if I drank coffee if that sort of thing in books wouldn't bother me so much. Jenna Black does the same thing and it drives me crazy. Oh, kinda like that vampire nazi book with all the tea drinking. It's like, come on, I want something to happen! Quit sitting around drinking beverages all the time!

Plus, I don't like mysteries. I suppose I should throw that out there. This was way more mystery oriented than anything else and it's just not something I enjoy.

And honestly, I didn't really care about any of the people that she was trying to help. They were either lying to her, yelling at her, disappearing, or being stupid and going off on their own.

And it was irresponsible for Sylvester to allow all that stuff to happen all because of politics, especially for a family member. He should have found a better way in sooner to help out.

And I don't blame you for me not liking this one! I would have read it whether you liked it or not. I'm worried about her new series now though. I actually had it in my cart at bookdepository to preorder but now I'm rethinking that ...


message 3: by new_user (new)

new_user LOL. I've been there. I remember getting frustrated with this one book where they were investigating a murder because the characters were sitting around drinking orange juice and folding laundry. LOL. Perfectly formulated to inspire boredom in the reader.


message 4: by CJ - Drop Dead Cute (last edited Apr 22, 2010 06:33AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

CJ - Drop Dead Cute Shannon wrote: "See that's the thing though, I thought the characters were weak, Toby especially. Did she grow? I honestly didn't see it. She didn't get to use her magic at all either except near the end.

And I w..."


I agree, everyone in this book operated on faulty logic. Which is frustrating. Despite all of the flaws though I liked it.

As for abilities - Toby doing that little spell to attract the night-haunts? I thought that was a good example of her abilities and I thought she was pushing her limits magically throughout the book. I mean, she did bring a guy back to life.

Yeah, sitting around and doing nothing - ugh. Spot on with the nazi vampires and their damned tea.

Doesn't Toby at one point basically say that she's not equipped to handle this? That she would need to rely on her old-fashioned skills (which albeit need to be worked on) and that she thinks that nothing will be solved by doing that?

Jenna Black just drives me crazy now.

Wait...New series?


The Holy Terror CJ wrote: "As for abilities - Toby doing that little spell to attract the night-haunts? I thought that was a good example of her abilities and I thought she was pushing her limits magically throughout the book. I mean, she did bring a guy back to life."

The nighthaunts was one of the parts I liked - I did mention that in the brief paragraph of positives, lol. I'm not sure about the whole thing with Alex though, I kept thinking, what, now she's a vampire? I understood her logic behind everything but I don't really see how it worked. Seemed almost too easy.

"Doesn't Toby at one point basically say that she's not equipped to handle this? That she would need to rely on her old-fashioned skills (which albeit need to be worked on) and that she thinks that nothing will be solved by doing that?"

She does say that. She talks about how she can't use her ability and she can't bring in a forensics team so she'll have to do it the old-fashioned way. By making her rely on her skills and not her magic we get to see just how much she relies on blood to help her. Lol, she needs to go back to detective school and work on the basics again!

"Wait...New series? "

She's got a book coming out at the end of the month under a different name: Feed.


CJ - Drop Dead Cute Shannon wrote: "CJ wrote: "As for abilities - Toby doing that little spell to attract the night-haunts? I thought that was a good example of her abilities and I thought she was pushing her limits magically through..."

We should start a fund for Toby Daye - The Toby Daye Fund for People Who Can Detect Good and Stuff.


The Holy Terror Lol.

Oh, I was just thinking of something. I was kind of mad how you were dangling Tybalt in front of me! grr... ::shaking fist::

At the end he can't even look Toby in the eye. I don't see how things could progress forward for them in the next book, if anything it seems like their relationship is only going to suffer since he seems to want to distance himself from her.


CJ - Drop Dead Cute lmao

Listen, it wasn't really dangling, just sort of hovering?? It was the simple fact that McGuire doesn't give us a lot of Tybalt so those fifty pages are like pure gold for me. :)

Also, he can't look at Toby because he doesn't understand what she did with Alex and because he secretly wants her. That's my story and I'm stickin' to it.


The Holy Terror I took it as he was either disgusted and/or scared of her power. He didn't seem pleased that she had that ability. Kind of like, "what the hell did you just do?!?"


CJ - Drop Dead Cute Yeah. I hope it was a scared feeling.


Cathy I really have to agree about the coffee. Too many authors let their personal obsession/addiction overflow into their writing! I've been noticing this more an more lately. Of course I mostly resent it because I can't drink it much anymore and really want to every time they mention it. It's just cruel to bore me and tempt me by mentioning it over and over again ;)


CJ - Drop Dead Cute Cathy (greytfriend) wrote: "I really have to agree about the coffee. Too many authors let their personal obsession/addiction overflow into their writing! I've been noticing this more an more lately. Of course I mostly resent ..."

I feel that way with food. I really enjoy the Stephanie Plum books but everytime that girl eats a donut suddenly I'm starving!


Estara Shannon wrote: "See that's the thing though, I thought the characters were weak, Toby especially. Did she grow? I honestly didn't see it. She didn't get to use her magic at all either except near the end.

And I w..."


I totally agree with your review and you're saying it so much more clearly with examples. I was really feeling bad because lots of people I trust really like this series.

My only addition is that I recognise in Toby her self-centered persona. I don't need that, I have that myself *wry grin*.


Kymba Khan Thank You!
Gawd, i thought it was ME.
She seriously is the stupidest detective ever. I find my self especially and pointlessly annoyed by how she's "teaching" Quentin over the corpse, pretty much nape-of-the-neck bringing him up to the body and trying to teach lividity (sp?) while my entire being is screaming "PHONES NOT WORKING CONTROLLED BY WHOM?"

So, yeah, i completely agree with your review. =(

Now, should i finish this and even bother with her 3rd book?


Cathy The 3rd book was much better. It was an adventure more than an investigation. She's better as a knight/hero than a detective.


Kymba Khan Cathy (greytfriend) wrote: "The 3rd book was much better. It was an adventure more than an investigation. She's better as a knight/hero than a detective."

Thanks for the rec! I'll give it a shot; that's the thing, I *want* these to be good for lots of meta reasons.


Lilli Perspice Your review covered my complaints nicely. Had I not already purchased the next two books, this book would have been a series-ender for me. I'm off to see what you thought of the third book. :)


Theshrewedshrew I am with you, I am not even 200 pages in and I am pretty sure I know the answer to all 3. I read your review cause I was wondering if its just me. I read the comments and came up with a solution.

1. Toby is severely out of whack with mortal tech. I mean we know she was born in the 50's lived there till she was 9, and 14 years ago she was living as a mortal/fae detective also playing knight.

In the first book, I let a lot of things slip. The fact a knight of any court goes around unarmed... I am having horror-esque nightmares of weekends of d&d in high school where we woke up outside a bar, in clothes and all of our gear taken.

Right away we realize Toby isn't a very big thinker. First book she would have already won her daughter back, she was found naked in a garden with cuts and scrapes. She could have said she was kidnapped and kept prisoner for a long, time, never seeing her captors face. Asking the police officer to get her a gallon of chocolate ice cream, that she had to take her baby some ice cream. And she would have been in like flyn. But no... Toby sulked. Which is fine, and even understandable.

Toby is a 1940's private eye. She takes pictures and tails via the car. She has magical abilities that are rare in fae but not all that rare.

She doesn't do cell phones... I have to wonder if that's a personal haunting or doesn't want the ability to call at anytime.

The only question I have yet to answer, because like Toby the author is pretty blunt. Is what is toby's 10 year plan. I mean I get she is slowly regaining contacts. She is gaining status again, she is forced into these games... Because lets face it, Toby as much as she says that she isn't just reacting, is moving exactly like a pawn.

Look at the first book, she moved one square at a time, then was confronted and for 14 years, waited for the game to start up again, for her piece to be put back on the board. Evening and (i've forgotten his name Darius/Darvin/w.e.) game, which might have been a system of moves on a larger game look at the queen's reaction. First she hides, then she starts trying to gain momentum before crashing into her old life, unfortunately crashing from the word go. This book started off amazing. Tybalt is one of the reasons I still am going to read not only this book but the next as well.

Toby is thick, about as thick as a ton of bricks... I just wish the author wouldn't constantly shove it into our face.

Also about the coffee thing. Here is my thoughts, remember how in the first book she talked about caffeine at her old job, I think the author is trying to stress that a semblance of the old Toby is re-forming. Just I don't really enjoy the way she is going about it. Also as you said detective she aint. But possibly the reason she aint super detective is one out of touch with tech, two not back up to 100% yet, and three the readers aren't typically mystery fans.


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