Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Ask not for whom the bell tolls...

We're coming full circle here at James's Genre Books, as I'm returning to the series that started this blog off.

One of the biggest issues with any series fiction is keeping things fresh. After all, if a relatively weak character spends every book going up against long odds and coming out unscathed, it kills any sense of suspense. How different authors get around this tends to color the series, from making the main narrator a god like necromancer schtupping every werecreature that moves to treating most of the lead's romantic interests like Bond girls.

Here, in Seanan McGuire's Chimes at Midnight, we see a more interesting trend. The Scooby Gang. Our Heroine, October Daye, Dóchas sidhe changeling and narrator, starts off by trying to stop the influx of Goblin Fruit and winds up involved in The Mists's revolution. Along the way, we meet new friends and expand on old ones.

Goblin fruit, originally grown only in one of the closed plains of existence, is instantly addictive to changelings, and exceptionally fatal for mortals. (It is for changelings as well. Just takes longer.) There's a rather large influx of the stuff on the Fae haunted streets of San Francisco,  and October and her crew are trying to take it out before it breaks the veil that hides Fairie from the mortal realm. Sadly, as October finds out, the Queen in the Mists is behind the current influx of the stuff. And in finding this out, October is given a 3 day notice of eviction and exile.

Which leads to seeking out The Sea Witch (one of Maeve's brood, and a First One, kind of the Antediluvians of the fay world) , who imparts on October knowledge that the Queen is not who she says she is. And thus is the major thrust of the plot, finding the real children of Gilad Windermere and getting them on the throne.

We get to meet Mags, the flighty librarian of The Library of Stars, who was one of my favorite characters in the novel. We also meet Madden, Cu Sidhe (dog fairy), who's guarding Anwen and her brother, in hiding from the usurper Queen in the Mists. (Madden is quite gay, and tends to steal the few scenes he shows up in.) Dianda, Queen of Saltmist, comes back for the revolution, and winds up providing some of the best scenes in the book, on the only way a mermaid kicking the crap out of guards can. That she swears like a proverbial sailor (not quite 4 letter words, but the intent is much the same) helps.

And, much like the authors note at the beginning promises, the end of this one and the short story tacked in the end of the novel set the stage for a much larger conflict to spread out over several novels. And that is a voyage I look forward to joining.