"One Salt Sea" by Seanan McGuire

Pros: This book didn’t wrench my emotions around like the last few did.
Cons: The basic plot felt like what I’d just read in another book in this series.
Rating: 4 out of 5

Review book courtesy of Penguin Group

 

Toby’s life is finally settling down; she’s adjusting to being a countess, she’s taken on a squire, and she’s even dating. It’s only a matter of time before the other shoe drops. The children of the Duchess of Saltmist have been kidnapped, and Toby has only a short amount of time to find them. The Duchess has accused the Queen of the Mists of their kidnapping, and so it’s up to Toby to prove her queen’s innocence. If she can’t, there will be war between the Fae of land and sea. As she searches on land and under the sea one thing becomes clear: someone doesn’t want her to find these children, and they’re willing to do anything to keep her from them.


 

I’m a big October Daye fan, and I’ve been looking forward to One Salt Sea ever since I finished Late Eclipses. So much happened there that I had a few concerns about where the series was headed. Thank goodness I don’t seem to have anything to worry about! Ms. McGuire is wise to give us a plot that eases off the emotional throttle a bit, giving me as a reader the chance to adjust to some of the changes that have taken place. My main gripe about the plot, however, is that we just had a child abduction plot two books ago, in An Artificial Night. The stakes are more political than personal this time, but I was still left with a bit of a “Didn’t I just read this?” feeling which was a bit unsatisfying. It also took away a decent amount of the emotional suspense, since I felt that like the other book, things would be resolved.

Ms. McGuire’s wonderful humor is definitely still in evidence. She’s got a wonderful sense of the absurd, which leads to one of my favorite paranormal moments of any book: a changeling Countess riding on a mermaid’s lap in a wheelchair down one of San Francisco’s many hills in order to escape an assassination attempt. Toby’s conversation with her former Duke as he convinces her to take a squire is also not to be missed, especially if you’ve ever done any heavy swordfighting.

It was also somewhat surprising to see the way that some of the over-arcing conflicts in the last few books were dealt with. One, arguably the major twist of the book, I thought happened too soon. It felt almost too convenient, and I would have been curious to see what Toby would have done had she been forced to deal with it a bit longer. A second conflict’s resolution was hinted at by a bit of prophecy, which is why I wasn’t as surprised to see that arc end the way that it did. Prophecy can be tricky for a writer, since they generally don’t want to give away too much. I found this one rather easy to figure out, and I’m not sure if that was intentional or not but I can’t help wishing it had been a little more obtuse.

We also get to find out a lot more about who Toby really is, which can be a lot to absorb if you as a reader aren’t too terribly familiar with fae lore. I was very glad to not find the revelations overwhelming; rather, I’m not desperate for the next book so that I can see how they’re going to play out over the story as a whole! I also found Toby’s visit to the Duchy of Saltmist enlightening, since it gave me a chance to see a contrast to the courts Toby usually frequents.

All in all, I found “One Salt Sea” to be another solid addition to the October Daye series. Its slower emotional pacing (because of the similar kidnapping plot) gave me a chance to sit back and watch changes being played out without the entire combination being too overwhelming. There are still plenty of changes happening, and although one or two may feel a bit rushed, they still open up even more interesting possibilities for Toby and her friends. I’m eagerly looking forward to the next installation in this series.

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