After two “monster of the week” episodes, The Brightest Fell (2017) brings us back to the secrets that were revealed in The Winter Long, surrounding Amandine, Simon, Eira Rosynhwyr — and Toby’s long-lost sister, August. But first, Seanan McGuire draws us in, as she did in Once Broken Faith, with a heartwarming scene of comic relief. This time, it’s Toby’s bachelorette party. The. Luideag. Sings. Karaoke. You don’t want to miss this.
The cozy mood is not to last, though, because Toby’s estranged mother Amandine shows up afterward. She wants Toby to find August. Now. And as collateral, she kidnaps two of Toby’s nearest and dearest. Now Toby is on a quest and a race against time, and she’s traveling with her old enemy Simon, because he’s the only person other than Amandine who might have any idea of where to start.
Their journey revisits places and characters we’ve seen before; it turns out that August’s and Toby’s paths have almost intersected more than once. This means running into old friends, and old enemies — as in the fairy tales, all your long-ago kindnesses will come back to help you, but all your old mistakes will come back to haunt you too.
Toby’s arc is great, and Simon’s is stunning, and tragic. For Toby, he provides a cautionary tale of what could happen if she allows herself to become too ruthless in the defense of her family. As he puts it, “a good man might become a villain thinking himself a hero in his heart.” Everything McGuire does with Simon in this book is fantastic.
The Brightest Fell is one of the most intense books yet in the OCTOBER DAYE series, and a welcome return to the overarching plot. Like goblin fruit, it leaves the reader craving more. It also includes the novella “Of Things Unknown,” which I loved. It’s told from the point of view of April O’Leary, the cyber-Dryad, who learns that there may be a way to put right some of the wrongs from A Local Habitation. In this story, McGuire takes us inside a mind that works very differently from the usual human mind, or even the usual faerie mind. I was surprised by how moved I was by “Of Things Unknown,” since it’s been a long time since A Local Habitation was fresh in my memory. Thematically, it fits well with The Brightest Fell; it, too, asks how far one will go to save a loved one.
October Daye — (2009- ) Publisher: The world of Faerie never disappeared: it merely went into hiding, continuing to exist parallel to our own. Secrecy is the key to Faerie’s survival — but no secret can be kept forever, and when the fae and mortal worlds collide, changelings are born. Half-human, half-fae, outsiders from birth, these second-class children of Faerie spend their lives fighting for the respect of their immortal relations. Or, in the case of October “Toby” Daye, rejecting it completely. After getting burned by both sides of her heritage, Toby has denied the fae world, retreating into a “normal” life. Unfortunately for her, Faerie has other ideas.The murder of Countess Evening Winterrose, one of the secret regents of the San Francisco Bay Area, pulls Toby back into the fae world. Unable to resist Evening’s dying curse, which binds her to investigate, Toby is forced to resume her old position as knight errant to the Duke of Shadowed Hills and begin renewing old alliances that may prove her only hope of solving the mystery… before the curse catches up with her.