Review of A Red-Rose Chain by Seanan McGuire (Daw, September 1, 2015)
This is the ninth October Daye novel. She is engaged to the King of Cats, Tybalt, and in this volume their relationship deepens as they both realize losing the other one would be horrible. A crazy woman has evented a way to put fae to sleep for one hundred years by using something called an elf-shot arrow, and a neighboring kingdom seems to think that is an excellent way to get rid of problem people like October and her crew. They try to avoid getting shot while also working on a cure to wake those who have already been shot before they miss any more time.
While all this is going on, October has been sent on a mission as a diplomat to stop a war (and yes, the characters in the book think it is funny too)! This involves a trip to Portland, which was quite well-done. Having just visited there prior to acquiring the novel, many of the quaint shops and weird things October saw seemed quite familiar.
We find out quite a bit of history of the setting in this volume, including details about Walther the alchemist that we didn’t know previously. Spike the rose goblin goes on the road trip with them and we learn more about his species in this volume too. Quentin the squire has to make some choices about when and how it is appropriate to endanger himself, since he is the crown prince; we also we get a glimpse of some of his tastes in clothes and culture in this story. Some local Portland people of Faerie make guest appearances and are quite a contrast some from other locales, so it would be interesting to see them visit in later volumes.
As much urban fantasy as Your Humble Reviewers get asked to review, it is rare that we go out and start an existing series in order to be in a position to review the new volume. We liked this one enough to do that when it was on volume eight! Having already been sucked into Seanan’s other work via short stories and the InCryptid series, the covers, blurbs, and reviews of the October Daye stories made us want to read about her. Toby’s world is rich and vibrant, so detailed you feel like you are in it. Seanan uses just enough real world info to make you feel that if you went to that part of the city, you could find the Faerie things there. Toby is a jeans-leather-jacket-comfy boots kind of girl, so we identified with her right away. We find her discomfort with getting her clothes magically changed to dresses and hatred of having to put on finery for court to be a more reasonable response to being thrust into a princess world than the response of most urban fantasy heroines.
This is an urban fantasy which has a sort of traditional Celtic view of Faerie with some slightly modern twists added. The mystery plot is sort of a linear but branching one with unexpected surprises. As is her norm, Seanan’s characters practically walk off the page. So, urban fantasy fans, if you like good character stories with strong plots you should try Seanan McGuire’s October Daye series. Because of the modern setting and sort of traditional faerie trappings it is easy to pick up the series at any volume, although you would probably end up reading them all once you got going!
Review of Seanan’s Book Release Extravaganza at Borderlands in San Francisco on September 5, 2015
This was our first trip to Borderlands, but it will definitely not be our last! They stock many wonderful genre books both new and used. Their café is delightful and has nice tables for reading and writing. There are cozy corners in the bookstore to stand out of the way to browse.
They have an excellent space for author events and had a well thought out location for the signing table so the line had room to form. There were plenty of copies of the new book, as well as good supply of older things for people just discovering the author.
The launch party started with a brief talk by Seanan and then on to music sets and drawings for prizes. The filking featured Seanan singing some tunes, with her girlfriend Amy on the fiddle as well as several other singers and musicians. All were excellent and the geeky lyrics were great.
We were also treated to lovely little baby cupcakes of various flavors suitable for all types of dietary issues. This was a good idea because it made everyone want to buy a drink in the café. The prize drawings allowed you to pick what you wanted from the pile and there were enough prizes for about half the audience. It was nice swag and everyone seemed happy with what they received.
This is about the nicest book launch Your Humble Reviewers have attended and we have attended book launches in many locations on both sides of the Atlantic! When visiting Angela’s family in Sacramento, we will definitely try to time some short jaunts to San Francisco to coincide with trips to Borderlands for book launches.