Just finished reading . . . An Artificial Night
An Artificial Night (October Daye series, book 3) by Seanan McGuire
This audiobook was given to me by Brilliance Audio for review purposes.
Audiobook read by Mary Robinette Kowal.
Everyone in the Bay Area knows about Blind Michael, the unseen, dangerous figure whose Hunt sweeps the Berkeley hills on full moon nights. He’s a familiar hazard of life in the Kingdom of the Mists, and most people don’t waste time worrying about him. October “Toby” Daye certainly doesn’t. She has better things to worry about, like paying the electrical bill on time. So it’s understandable that she’d be upset when Blind Michael suddenly starts taking an interest in people that matter to her, like the youngest children of Mitch and Stacy Brown.
Tasked to find the missing children, and with the stakes growing higher by the minute, Toby has few choices and fewer allies to help her through the dangers yet to come. With the Luidaeg’s help and a candle to light her way home, there’s a chance that she’ll come through this latest danger…but the sudden appearance of her Fetch doesn’t give Toby all that much in the way of hope…
I always worry when I’m about to read (and review) a book that I’m really looking forward to. I’m afraid that my expectations are unrealistically high, and that the book is doomed before I even crack the spine (or turn on the ipod, as the case may be).
But, as with book 2 (A Local Habitation, reviewed here), An Artificial Night not only lived up the the high expectations, but took the series in ever more interesting and complex directions.
The above description describes the plot well, but for as much as I enjoyed the originality of the plot and the action kept me turning the pages, it was Toby’s character development that I found most absorbing.
AAN touched on two themes with regard to Toby. The first one was that of childhood. When Toby is commissioned to rescue the missing children from Blind Michael, she doesn’t realize how greatly she will have to get in touch with her own “childhood”, and her feelings about her own daughter from whom she is alienated. It was great to see a child-Toby still retain her intrinsic “Toby-ness”: brave, outspoken, and just a little bit irreverent.
In a lot of ways, her journeys through Blind Michael’s land reveals more about her than previous books. The second theme in AAN (and in the series in general) is that of the meaning of heroism. (And not necessarily the “heroism” of a typical uf kick-ass heroine, where the emphasis tends to be on the “kick-ass” part, but on the more classical definition of “hero”.) Toby spends much of the book denying that she is a hero. Yet, she embraces the ideals of a true hero—honor, loyalty, and the importance of keeping one’s word—and I love how through the course of the book she comes to accept what those around her keep telling her: that she is a true hero. When she finally did accept it, I really felt like cheering for her, and couldn’t help but think about what a long road she’s been on since escaping her enchantment as a goldfish in book 1.
Tybalt, the King of the Caith Sidhe, continues to drop in on Toby, and steal every scene he’s in. I love his dry sense of humor, and he always seems to get the best lines. I hope that the burbling chemistry between him and Toby that remains (at this point) mostly under the surface, will become more in the near future.
Mary Robinette Kowal did another wonderful job on the narration of this audiobook. She really has a way of imbuing each character’s voice with their distinctive personalities, and making it a fun listen.
I’m still hoping for an appearance of Toby’s estranged daughter, but at least in AAN, I gained a great deal of insight into Toby’s character that will (hopefully) lay the ground work for her daughter’s inclusion in a future book in the series. I was glad to see on Seanan McGurire’s livejournal that she has 2 more Toby books (The Brightest Fell and Ashes of Honor) in the works (among some other really interesting looking projects). I can’t wait to see what Toby will do next.