Sunday, August 8, 2021

Late Eclipses

After finishing An Artificial Night, I decided to jump straight into the next October Daye book, Late Eclipses.  This time around, Toby is summoned to the court of the Queen of the Mists.  After some vague warnings from Tybalt, Toby finds herself given the title of Countess of Wintergreen.  She knows it's a trap though: changlings never get titles.  But at this point there's no indication of just what the Queen is up to.

Toby's immediately pulled away to the Tea Gardens, to find something equally unsettling: Lily is sick.  As an undine and pureblood, Lily should not be able to get sick.  Toby vows to get to the bottom of it.  But before she can do much investigating, she has to make an appearance at the Torquill's Beltane Ball.  Only while there, she is the only witness to Luna fainting, possibly from being poisoned from wine.  Toby got a whiff of Oleander de Merelands' magic - Oleander is one of the ones who were responsible for turning Toby into a fish for fourteen years.  Oleander is also an assassin extraordinaire, whose weapon of choice is poisons.  But there's one problem: every time Toby seems to believe Oleander is around, no one else can see her.  Is Toby's changeling blood finally making her go mad?  Or is there a sinister plot afoot that she's tangled up in?  

I was quite interested in the story up to about this point (and was even thinking of ordering the next two books in the series because I was having so much fun with it).  But then things started to take a rather...dare I say: familiar...turn.  Rayseline, Sylvester's daughter, hates Toby.  When Luna is incapacitated, and Sylvester turns mad with grief, Raysel uses the opportunity to take control of the Knowe, naming herself in charge.  She banishes Toby, and starts spreading rumours that Toby is the one who hurt Lily and Luna.  After Lily dies, Toby returns to the Knowe, but Raysel uses it as a chance to have her arrested.  You see, having been named Countess, Toby is now no longer under Sylvester's protection, but the Queen's.  And the Queen orders her to stand trial, a sham used to convict Toby and sentence her to execution.  She's locked in an iron dungeon for a few days; her friends break her out and bring her back from the brink of death by iron poisoning.  But Toby cannot stand idly by, and insists on returning to Sylvester's Knowe in an attempt to save Luna.

While the plot trappings are different, the second half of the story was, in many ways, a repeat of An Artificial Night, and how Toby kept charging back into Blind Michael's lands.  She was even held prisoner and poisoned (although it was more a mental poisoning rather than the iron poisoning she suffered here).  But even after all that, she had to charge back into danger after barely healing to see it through.  There's nothing necessarily wrong with this plot on its own merits, but reading it right after An Artificial Night got very, very boring.

Now sure, there was some interesting things going on too. Toby got shot with Elfshot, which is deadly to Changlings.  Her mother mysterious showed up and changed her, making her far more fae.  This saved her life, but also means that iron is now a problem when it wasn't before (the change happened just before she was sentenced and thrown into the iron jail).  Her features even changed, becoming more fae.  

Another thing that was interesting (though sad) was Lily's death.  Lily's subjects were able to mourn, but Toby never was (she was just a crazy exhausted mess running from one fire to the next trying to put them all out).  I would have loved if the book slowed down a bit to deal with (and really show) some of this stuff.  But Toby herself even says that there's no time to deal with it now.

I'm also a fan of the relationship she's developing with Tybalt.  Somewhere along the lines she's started trusting him.  And while he's still very aloof, you can tell he cares for her.  That's all going to get complicated in the coming books because Connor, her one-time crush and Rayseline's husband, is freed from the marriage at the end of the book (Raysel did some unforgivable things, and his Selkie clan dissolved their political marriage immediately).

So all in all, this ended up just an okay read.  I do wish I had waited awhile before reading it, rather than starting it immediately after An Artificial Night.  But thanks to all the repetition in the plot, I'm done with the series for now - if I go back to it, it won't be for a long while.

No comments: