Full of Briars

by Seanan McGuire

Cover image

Series: October Daye #7.1
Publisher: DAW
Copyright: August 2016
ISBN: 0-7564-1222-6
Format: Kindle
Pages: 44

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"Full of Briars" is a novella set in the October Daye series, between Chimes at Midnight and The Winter Long, although published four years later. It was published independently, so it gets a full review here, but it's $2 on Amazon and primarily fills in some background for series readers.

It's also extremely hard to review without spoilers, since it is the direct consequences of a major plot revelation at the end of Chimes of Midnight that would spoil a chunk of that story and some of the series leading up to it. So I'm going to have to be horribly vague and fairly brief.

"Full of Briars" is, unlike most of the series and all of the novels, told from Quentin's perspective rather than Toby's. The vague thing that I can say about the plot is that this is the story of Toby finally meeting Quentin's parents. Since Quentin is supposed to be in a blind fosterage and his parentage kept secret, this is a bit of a problem. It might be enough of a problem to end the fosterage and call him home.

That is very much not something Quentin wants. Or Toby, or any of the rest of the crew Toby has gathered around her in the course of the series.

The rest of the story is mostly talking, about that decision and its aftermath and then some other developments in Quentin's life. It lacks a bit of the drama of the novels of the series, but one of the reasons why I'm still reading this series is that I like these characters and their dialogue. They're all very much themselves here: Toby being blunt, May being random, and Quentin being honorable and determined and young. Tybalt is particularly good here, doing his own version of Toby's tendency to speak truth to power and strongly asserting the independence of the Court of Cats.

The ending didn't have much impact for me, and I don't think the scene worked quite as well as McGuire intended, but it's another bit of background that's useful for series readers to be aware of.

This is missable, but it's cheap enough and fast enough to read that I wouldn't miss it if you're otherwise reading the series. The core plot outcome is predictable, as is much of what happens in the process. But I liked Quentin's parents, I liked how they interact with McGuire's regular cast, and it's nice to know exactly what happened in this interlude.

Followed by The Winter Long (and also see the Toby Short Stories page for a list of all the short fiction in this universe and where it falls in series order).

Rating: 6 out of 10

Reviewed: 2018-04-29

Last modified and spun 2018-04-30