The fifth book in Seanan McGuire’s October Daye series, One Salt Sea is every bit as incredible as the first four books. And, as with the other four books, I should have taken my own advice and not read the last three or four chapters on the bus. As usual, I wound up trying to sniffle quietly and surreptitiously wipe away tears on my sweatshirt sleeve.
In One Salt Sea, October Daye, the newly minted Countess of Goldengreen is called upon to find two missing children, and stop a war between the Fae kingdoms of the land and the sea. As usual, the research into “traditional” Fae is flawless, and McGuire invents several new species from the sea to fill out her tableau of Fae. The descriptions of the undersea Fae kingdom are gorgeous and lush. The part octopus Fae, and the whale-based mer-type Fae are brilliant and wonderful. The characters feel real and multi-dimensional. Favorites from the past novels show up, and McGuire delivers enough exposition to remind familiar readers of who everyone is. However, you will need to have read the previous novels, as she does not believe in gratuitous amounts of exposition, unlike, say Jim Butcher (Don’t get me wrong, I like Butcher, but his exposition of earlier novels does seem a little excessive sometimes).
Toby’s relationships seem to have all matured, from her romantic entanglements to her friendships with Quentin and May Day. She is still adapting to the cleansing of her blood of the majority if her mortality done by her mother to save her life in the last book. And Toby has to face her fear of water, a fear she’s had since her time as koi in Golden Gate park. And the early Mary-Sue-ish tendencies I spoke of in my review of Rosemary and Rue have largely faded, and also some of the relationships that made me feel that way in the first book have gone for one reason or another (no spoilers). All in all I feel Toby’s become an even more well-rounded character with lots of depth. And she’s the only urban fantasy lead I can think of, who gets beat up as often as Harry Dresden.
All in all, I don’t think there’s much more I can say about this book without spoiling it for you. You will cry at the end, but then I think everybody almost always does. I appreciate that as a series, McGuire does not feel the need to end each book with a very obvious “Next time on…” I think each of these books could be where the stories end, in that they feel complete. She is definitely not pulling a David Eddings and leaving you with cliff-hangers at the end of each novel (something that pisses me off to no end). The next stories are outgrowths of the previous ones, and if each story ending leaves some strings hanging, some of which will be picked up, some not, that’s sort of the way life works, isn’t it?
Again, I highly recommend all of the October Daye books to readers from Young Adult to Adult Adults. Toby has more sex in this recent book, but it’s pretty much very couched and veiled, or fade to black. I’d be comfortable giving these to my 13 year old Niece Not By Blood, and trust me I’m FAR more conservative with what I buy her than her mother is.*
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*I just don’t want to be that asshole friend who buys the kids really inappropriate shit they’ll love, but breaks their heart when mom takes it away.