Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Local Habitation

A Local Habitation is the 2nd of Seanan McGuire's urban fantasy series featuring the changeling detective October 'Toby' Daye.

Following the events in the first book (Rosemary and Rue) Toby is in the process of putting her life back together. She's left the exciting world of checkout girl in a late night supermarket and has regained her PI licence. Following a drunken night with friends she receives a visit from her liege lord; Sylvester Torquill, the Duke of the Shadowed Hills.

Sylvester wants Toby to go to the County of Tamed Lightning, which is in Fremont, near Silicon Valley. He has fallen out of contact with the Countess of the County, his niece; January O'Leary and he is concerned that all may not be well. This is especially concerning as Tamed Lightning is a buffer between the Shadowed Hills and an aggressive rival duchy.

Cool, I thought, roadtrip. Better was yet to come, Toby would have a sidekick; the teenage Tuatha de Danaan fosterling Quentin. Readers had first met Quentin in Rosemary and Rue. I liked him as a character and looked forward to getting to know him better.

Things are not good in Tamed Lightning. Members of January's computer company are being picked off one by one and despite multiple attempts she has not been able to contact her uncle for assistance. This doesn't make sense to Toby as the very reason Sylvester sent her there in the first place was to check on January, because he hadn't been able to make contact with her.

Toby is soon fighting for her own life and that of her friends Quentin, the selkie Conor and the Cait Sith King of Cats Tybalt. Toby needs to find who the killer is before she becomes the next victim.

This was a change of pace from Rosemary and Rue. Whereas the first case readers saw Toby investigate was rather Raymond Chandleresque, A Local Habitation put me in mind of some of Agatha Christie's work, especially And Then There Were None, where the guests on an island are picked off one by one by an unknown killer.

I did like the Toby/Quentin dynamic and her big sisterish protection of the teenager, it was rather reminiscent of the relationship between Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden and his apprentice, Molly Carpenter. The ending of the book left it unclear as to whether Quentin will play a major part in further volumes or not. I'm not a particular fan of Tybalt, but I know other readers are and things will probably head down that road, I'd rather see Toby with Conor, but as he's married to a crazy lady that more than likely won't happen. Toby trashed her car again and this seems to be a running gag ala Janet Evanovich's bounty hunter Stephanie Plum.

Again Seanan explored some of the lesser known fae, such as bannicks, coblynau and Gean-Cannah. I always look for these now in the books, to see if I work out what they are before the author lets the readers know.

The 3rd Toby book; An Artificial Night is out and I know Seanan has plans for at least 3 after that. I'll be reading.

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