Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Ashes and Honor: A Review

Ashes of Honor
Written by: Seanan McGuire
Softcover: 353 pages
Publisher: DAW
Language: English
September 2012, $7.99
Genre: Urban Fantasy/Toby Daye #6

It’s been almost a year since October “Toby” Daye averted a war, gave up a county, and suffered personal losses that have left her wishing for a good day’s sleep. She’s tried to focus on her responsibilities—training Quentin, upholding her position as Sylvester’s knight, and paying the bills—but she can’t help feeling like her world is crumbling around her, and her increasingly reckless behavior is beginning to worry even her staunchest supporters.

To make matters worse, Toby’s just been asked to find another missing child…only this time it’s the changeling daughter of her fellow knight, Etienne, who didn’t even know he was a father until the girl went missing. Her name is Chelsea. She’s a teleporter, like her father. She’s also the kind of changeling the old stories warn about, the ones with all the strength and none of the control. She’s opening doors that were never meant to be opened, releasing dangers that were sealed away centuries before—and there’s a good chance she could destroy Faerie if she isn’t stopped.

Now Toby must find Chelsea before time runs out, racing against an unknown deadline and through unknown worlds as she and her allies try to avert disaster. But danger is also stirring in the Court of Cats, and Tybalt may need Toby’s help with the biggest challenge he’s ever faced.

Toby thought the last year was bad. She has no idea.
+++++++++++++

I love the feeling you get when you truly become invested in a series. A couple of years ago I am not sure if I would have given Toby and her world a shot. But I did and I absolutely love it. It helps that I love anything fey related. I can’t help it. It reminds me of my mom telling me stories from Celtic mythology and all of the creatures that inhabited the world. When I was growing up I would leave milk and honey for the wee ones. I imagined that there kelpies and pixies and the sidhe.

As the series has continued I have managed to gobble them up in a short amount of time as I was a bit late to the party. Some of the books have been stronger than others but even the “weak” ones have something spectacular amidst its pages whether it is character development or plot development.

Things I loved:I love Toby. I love that she is reckless and jumps first before looking. It’s part of who she is and let’s face it half the time her recklessness is the only reason why people make it out in the first place. She is forever the hero, sometimes so much so that she is putting those she loves in danger. I imagine she can be quite frustrating. Always wanting to go in solo because she doesn’t want anyone else to get hurt, which means they usually do.

It’s been a year since One Salt Sea and Toby kind of went through the ringer in that one. She still hasn’t recovered even after a year and it is starting to take a toll not just on her but everyone around her. Oh she is breathing and such, but she isn’t really present. I know how that works, going through the motions hoping you can find your way back, but not sure if you can remember or find the way. She has closed herself off and who can blame her because somehow the people she loves keep dying whenever she is involved. She is scared and lost. She’s never had a family like she has now and its scary as much as she loves having them in her life. It isn’t until this book that she really begins to understand that those characters around her won’t leave her when things get tough. They will stand beside her and fight just as hard.

Admittedly the plot of kidnapped or missing children is getting a bit old, but originally I did like the idea of how children (either fey or human or maybe a bit of both) have learned to survive in this world. And yet somehow despite this plotline that is awfully similar to others, it is unique in its own little ways. Chelsea is a great character, a young girl who is more than she ever thought and part of a world that is supposed to be the stuff of fairytales. And Chelsea is a great reminder why the changelings are not loved amongst the fey because they represent danger. Toby knows this. She knows how she was treated as a child and she knows the choices she had to give her own daughter because of her parentage of all things.

I think one of the main reasons I really liked about this installment is all of the character growth. I love that every time we get to hang with the Luidaeg we learn more about her. In Ashes we discovered more about the Court of Cats and how not everything is going swimmingly. We discover how Tamed Lightning is faring among other territories so it is not just Toby who is evolving, but the entire world and all of the creatures and characters that inhabit it. Each time we get to visit and explore with Toby we learn a little bit more about her world and I absolutely love that.

Speaking of Tybalt and the Court of Cats. Whoo hoo! Finally and yet I am so happy that it took this long. They are a great couple and it was really nice to see some vulnerability from Tybalt. He put it all out there and came clean about some things, but he needed to, had to let Toby she has not been alone for some time. I have loved watching their relationship build and grow, like a real romance. it didn’t happen overnight and there were others involved. And then you find home.

Things I didn’t love so much: The plot as I said is a bit familiar and not as strong as in other books, but that is not why I loved this book. of course because this book is more about character and world development from previous books, it is not recommended for someone new to the series to start here. It would be like starting to watch Friends after Rachel was pregnant.

Buy or Borrow: Buy. If you have liked any of the other books in the series, you will like this one.

Part of: a Series. The Toby Daye series beginning with Rosemary and Rue

Also Recommended: For well fleshed out worlds I would try the world of Matthew Swift (Madness of Angels by Kate Griffin), Felix Castor (The Devil You Know by Mike Carey) and Harry Dresden by Jim Butcher. For great female leads Kate Daniels by Ilona Andrews and Mercy by Patricia Briggs. For more fey whoo hooness The Wicked Lovely series by Melissa Marr, CThe Modern Faerie Tales by Holly Black, and the Merry Gentry series by Laurell K Hamilton

3.5 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks 

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