The Unkindest Tide by Seanan McGuire science fiction and fantasy book and audiobook reviewsThe Unkindest Tide by Seanan McGuire science fiction and fantasy book and audiobook reviewsThe Unkindest Tide by Seanan McGuire

It’s probably inevitable that any long series, even one I enjoy as much as Seanan McGuire’s OCTOBER DAYE, will have books that just aren’t as great as some of the others. And I want to be fair; I’ve gotten really invested in the Amandine/Eira/August plotline, and it’s made me more impatient with the in-between books, so I want to make sure I’m not being too harsh. But even after thinking it over for a while, The Unkindest Tide (2019) was just kind of middling to me.

The Luideag calls in the favor Toby owes her, so that the Luideag can keep her own vow of resurrecting the Roane. This means that all the Selkies must gather at the Duchy of Ships, including Toby’s daughter Gillian. The Duchy of Ships is a pretty cool new setting, and I also hoped for some development of Toby and Gillian’s relationship. There isn’t much of this, though; Gillian is quickly “swept away by the rapidly-growing Selkie contingent” and the two don’t spend much page time together.

 October Daye SeriesThis plotline is then interrupted by the B-plot, which initially doesn’t even seem related other than that they both take place at sea. I wondered if it would be used to create conflict by, for example, making Toby late to help Gillian or something like that, but no. Toby is so powerful now that the stakes never quite feel high during this section. (She almost dies, but that’s kind of her signature move at this point, and yes, that’s a weird sentence to type.) This plot does get tied in later, but when we’re in the middle of it, it feels a bit like one of the side novellas got dropped into the middle of the novel.

The ending seemed a little deus-ex-machina to me, but that may be inevitable, since some of these beings practically are gods. In any case, the Selkie/Roane thing gets resolved. I’m glad I read it, but it’s not one of the standouts of the series for me.

The Unkindest Tide includes a bonus novella, “Hope Is Swift,” which is told from Raj’s perspective and explores his relationships and his coming to terms with the idea of being King much earlier than he’d planned. It’s also, I think, kind of a paean to animal rescuers. It’s well worth a read if you like Raj and/or cats in general.

Published in 2019. Now in hardcover, the thirteenth novel of the Hugo-nominated, New York Times-bestselling Toby Daye urban fantasy series! Hundreds of years ago, the Selkies made a deal with the sea witch: they would have the sea for as long as she allowed it, and when the time came, she would call in all their debts at once. Many people assumed that day would never come. Those people were wrong. When the Luidaeg–October “Toby” Daye’s oldest and most dangerous ally–tells her the time has come for the Selkies to fulfill their side of the bargain, and that Toby must be a part of the process, Toby can’t refuse. Literally. The Selkies aren’t the only ones in debt to the Luidaeg, and Toby has to pay what she owes like anyone else. They will travel to the fabled Duchy of Ships and call a convocation of the Selkies, telling them to come and meet the Luidaeg’s price…or face the consequences. Of course, nothing is that simple. When Dianda Lorden’s brother appears to arrest Dianda for treason against the Undersea, when a Selkie woman is stripped of her skin and then murdered, when everything is falling apart, that’s when Toby will have to answer the real question of the hour. Is she going to sink? Or is she going to swim?


  • Kelly Lasiter

    KELLY LASITER, with us since July 2008, is a mild-mannered academic administrative assistant by day, but at night she rules over a private empire of tottering bookshelves. Kelly is most fond of fantasy set in a historical setting (a la Jo Graham) or in a setting that echoes a real historical period (a la George RR Martin and Jacqueline Carey). She also enjoys urban fantasy and its close cousin, paranormal romance, though she believes these subgenres’ recent burst in popularity has resulted in an excess of dreck. She is a sucker for pretty prose (she majored in English, after all) and mythological themes.