Review: A Local Habitation by Seanan McGuire

Wednesday, August 3, 2016
Title: A Local Habitation
Author: Seanan McGuire
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: October Daye #2
Pages: 377
Published:March 2nd, 2010
Source: Borrowed, Library
Rating: 3.75 out of 5

October "Toby" Daye is a changeling, the daughter of Amandine of the fae and a mortal man. Like her mother, she is gifted in blood magic, able to read what has happened to a person through a mere taste of blood. Toby is the only changeling who has earned knighthood, and she re-earns that position every day, undertaking assignments for her liege, Sylvester, the Duke of the Shadowed Hills.

Now Sylvester has asked her to go to the County of Tamed Lightning—otherwise known as Fremont, CA—to make sure that all is well with his niece, Countess January O'Leary, whom he has not been able to contact. It seems like a simple enough assignment—but when dealing with the realm of Faerie nothing is ever as simple as it seems. Toby soon discovers that someone has begun murdering people close to January, whose domain is a buffer between Sylvester's realm and a scheming rival duchy. If Toby can't find the killer soon, she may well become the next victim.

The first Toby book and I are on rocky ground. I love the way Seanan writes the fair folk and the way she integrates their world with ours, but I feel like Toby's backstory isn't well done. And since so much of that plot revolves around Toby returning to the world after being a fish for fourteen years and how she reintegrates with the people from her past...not great.

This book takes Toby and Quentin, her lord's foster and page, to southern California, away from Simon and Sylvester and the Luidaeg, so there's significantly less backstory to muddle the plot. Sylvester's niece, January, has stopped returning his calls and her own Duchy is in a perilous political position that stops him from going himself to check on her. Our heroes, of course, stumble into a murder mystery that has all but emptied the Duchy.

It's a locked room mystery, with no one able to come in or out, which makes the time it takes Toby to solve it a little frustrating. When we're literally down to two suspects and you're still not right? It makes me question the main character's credentials. The answer isn't all that interesting either.

But April. Now here's the brilliant writer I know Seanan will become. She's an orphaned dryad whose forest has been destroyed by human expansion. Instead of dying with her kin, she was rescued by January, who works her still-living tree branch into a computer. Because what is a group of files in a program called? A tree. April's now a cyber-dryad, the first and only, able to appear anywhere in the building, see everything, and tell when the remaining characters have been "removed from the network". GENIUS.

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