One Salt Sea by Seanan McGuire
One Salt Sea: An October Daye Novel
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Many fantasy series that aren’t closed trilogies run the risk of becoming nothing more than a set of vignettes loosely tied together. In recent years, story arcs have gotten more common, and they add significantly to the novels’ readability. They keep me engaged and wanting to return to the series. Rather than just being about characters that we love, it becomes something deeper—characters and their life experiences. One Salt Sea, the latest October Daye novel, exemplifies these traits.
(Description nicked from B&N.com.)
“October ‘Toby’ Daye is settling into her new role as Countess of Goldengreen. She’s actually dating again, and she’s taken on Quentin as her squire. So, of course, it’s time for things to take a turn for the worse.
Someone has kidnapped the sons of the regent of the Undersea Duchy of Saltmist. To prevent a war between land and sea, Toby must find the missing boys and prove the Queen of the Mists was not behind their abduction. Toby’s search will take her from the streets of San Francisco to the lands beneath the waves, and her deadline is firm: she must find the boys in three days’ time, or all of the Mists will pay the price. But someone is determined to stop her-and whoever it is isn’t playing by Oberon’s Laws…”
One Salt Sea takes readers to a realm previously only hinted at: the undersea kingdoms. While I’ve liked getting familiar with the land duchies, there’s a certain thrill in going someplace new and seeing how the author has built this unfamiliar area. The Bay Area has, over time, become the series’ home base, and with Toby’s progress as a character, this is a good time to start branching out.
The Undersea kingdoms are beautiful. I’m put in mind of a more practical version of the court of King Triton in The Little Mermaid, to be honest. There are elements of the fantastic mixed with the logical considerations of living under water. It’s a place that I’d love to visit. And the Undersea denizens are just like their environment: fantastical and lovely, with that slightly alien edge that many ocean dwelling creatures display.
I appreciated seeing Toby taking on what amounts to a detective case. Yes, it involves a kidnapping in a fairy kingdom, but Toby gets to use her “real world” skills within the fantasy setting. Those parts of her personality have been present throughout the series, but I enjoyed seeing them so clearly defined.
I can’t talk about this book without touching on something that verges on being a spoiler: namely, the situation between Toby and her two potential suitors, Connor and Tybalt. At the novel’s beginning, Toby and Connor are together, but Tybalt is still very much in the picture. By the end of the story, the situation has been resolved, and in a very unexpected way. I won’t say what happens, but I will say that I agreed with how events fell out and thought it was well written and powerful.
One Salt Sea is undoubtedly McGuire’s best October Daye novel to date, and I look forward to seeing where she takes the story in future books. This author is consistently impressive, no matter what she writes, and I would urge you to pick up any of her novels and prepare to be entertained with a smart, witty and heartfelt tale.
This review appeared on Owlcat Mountain on October 10, 2011.