Night and Silence

by Seanan McGuire

Cover image

Series: October Daye #12
Publisher: DAW Books
Copyright: 2018
ISBN: 0-698-18353-3
Format: Kindle
Pages: 353

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Night and Silence is the 12th book in Seanan McGuire's long-running October Daye Celtic-inspired urban fantasy series. This is a "read the books in order" sort of series; you definitely do not want to start here.

Gillian, Toby's estranged daughter, has been kidnapped. Her ex-husband and his new wife turn to her in desperation (although Miranda suspects Toby is the one who kidnapped her). Toby of course drops everything to find her, which she would have done regardless, but the obvious fear is that Gillian may have been kidnapped specifically to get at Toby. Meanwhile, the consequences of The Brightest Fell have put a severe strain on one of Toby's most important relationships, at the worst possible time.

Once again, this is when I say that McGuire's writing has a lot of obvious flaws, and then say that this book kept me up way past my bedtime for two nights in a row because it was nearly impossible to put down.

The primary quality flaw in these books, at least for me, is that Toby's thought processes have some deeply-worn grooves that she falls into time and time again. Since she's the first-person narrator of the series, that produces some repetitive writing. She feels incredibly lucky for her chosen family, she worries about her friends, she prizes loyalty very highly, she throws herself headlong into danger, and she thinks about these things in a background hum through every book. By this point, the reader knows all of this, so there's a lot of "yes, yes, we know" muttering that tends to happen.

McGuire also understands the importance of plot and character recaps at the start of each book for those of us who have forgotten what was happening (thank you!) but awkwardly writes them into the beginning of each book. That doesn't help with the sense of repetitiveness. If only authors would write stand-alone synopses of previous books in a series, or hire someone to do that if they can't stand to, the world would be a much better place. But now I'm repeating myself.

Once I get into a book, though, this doesn't matter at all. When Toby starts down a familiar emotional rut, I just read faster until I get to the next bit. Something about these books is incredibly grabby to me; once I get started on one, I devour it, and usually want to read the next one as soon as possible. Some of this is the cast, which at this point in the series is varied, entertaining, and full of the sort of casual banter that only people who have known each other for a long time can do. A lot of it is that Toby constantly moves forward. She ruminates and angsts and worries, but she never sits around and mopes. She does her thinking on the move. No matter how preoccupied she is with some emotional thread, something's going to happen on the next page.

Some of it is intangible, or at least beyond my ability to put a finger on. Some authors are good at writing grabby books, and at least for me McGuire is one of those authors.

Describing the plot in any detail without spoilers is hopeless this far into the series, but this is one of the big revelation books, and I suspect it's also going to be a significant tipping point in Toby's life. We finally find out what broke faerie, which has rather more to do with Toby and her family than one might have expected, explains some things about Amandine, and also (although this hasn't been spelled out yet) seems likely to explain some things about the Luidaeg's involvement in Toby's adventures. And there is another significant realignment of one of Toby's relationships that isn't fully developed here, but that I hope will be explored in future books.

There's also a lot about Tybalt that to be honest I found tedious and kind of frustrating (although not half as frustrating as Toby found it). I appreciate what McGuire was doing; some problems are tedious, frustrating, and repetitive because that's how one gets through them. The problem that Toby and Tybalt are wrestling with is realistic and underdiscussed in fiction of this type, so I respect the effort, and I'm not sure there was way to write through this that would have been more engrossing (and a bit less cliched). But, still, not my favorite part of this book. Thankfully, it was a mostly-ignorable side thread.

This was a substantial improvement over The Brightest Fell, which was both infuriating and on rails. Toby has much more agency here, the investigation was more interesting, and the lore and character fallout has me eager to read the next book. It's fun to see McGuire's world-building come together over this long of a series, and so far it has not disappointed.

Followed by The Unkindest Tide.

As has become usual, the book ends with a novella telling a story from a different perspective.

"Suffer a Sea-Change": The main novel was good. This was great.

"Suffer a Sea-Change" retells a critical part of the novel from Gillian's perspective, and then follows that thread of story past the end of the novel. I loved absolutely everything about this. Gillian is a great protagonist, similar to Toby but different enough to be a fresh voice. There is a ton of the Luidaeg, and through different eyes than Toby's which is fun. There's some great world-building and a few very memorable scenes. And there's also the beginning, the very small beginning, of the healing of a great injustice that's been haunting this series since the very beginning, and I am very much here for that. Great stuff. (9)

Rating: 8 out of 10

Reviewed: 2023-01-16

Last modified and spun 2023-01-17