The sword swung fast and hard toward my face, leaving me with barely enough time to raise my own sword into position to parry.
–Seanan McGuire - One Salt Sea - c.2011
Generalised spoiler warning in effect for the first four books, because, well obviously.
Toby has come along way since we met her back in Rosemary and Rue. Back then she was keeping her head down, avoiding her past, not thinking about her future. She wasn’t really doing much past existing in the present. But now she has friends around her again. She has risen, socially, to become a Countess. Which okay, maybe she wasn’t expecting and didn’t really want, but it has given her options. And she has hooked up with Connor. But as is usual in Toby’s life, things begin to take a turn for the worse.
She is summoned to the Queen of Mists, never good to be commanded to appear before a mad person with power who doesn’t like you, and discovers that someone has kidnapped the sons of Duchess Lorden, ruler of the Undersea Duchy of Saltmist. Toby, of course, begins to investigate. How could she not when there are children involved. Not only that, but if the boys aren’t found it will lead to war.
I’ve really enjoyed all of the Toby Daye books, but I think this is my favourite so far. Toby is far from a perfect hero1 but she does learn and change as the books progress. She isn’t stuck in the same mode all the time. Well, apart from her constant need for caffeine, that is unchanging. She now asks for help, she trusts people. That doesn’t mean she still doesn’t have issues, and being faced with having to *go* to Undersea, well, her time as fish makes her understandably wary of that.
This is an urban fantasy tale with a side-serving of action. The plot moves along at a fair clip and stuff keeps happening. Which isn’t to say that it feels hurried, because it doesn’t, the pacing works really well for me.
As for whodunnit? Well, you sorta know that, but its the process of uncovering, and proving it, that is so entertaining. We also get glimpses at different parts of the Fae world, and the Undersea is fascinating. I also really enjoyed the development of the Luideag and her storyline, plus her history with the Selkies.
Now, the love triangle aspect. Obviously Toby’s emotional life is important, so her love life is important, so the love triangle is important. But it is handled well by McGuire. There isn’t even a hint of Team Jacob v Team Edward, or whatever. Connor and Tybalt are both important to Toby, and to her investigations. They are very different characters and while it is clear that there is something between Tybalt and Toby, she also has a very strong and real relationship with Connor. The love triangle is there, but it never threatens to become all important. It is character development and character background, not the ultimate aim of the story.
If you’ve read and enjoyed the other books in this series then you’ve probably already read this one. If you haven’t you should. And if you’ve never read a Toby Daye book, well go pick one up. You’ll be perfectly able to follow the story in this one, if that’s what you choose, but I’d recommend going back to the beginning and starting with Rosemary and Rue.
how boring would that be ↩