Seanan McGuire has caused me to abandon work and kept me up nights more than any other author I’ve read recently. Her work is so compelling that I absolutely must find out what happens next. Ashes of Honor was no exception to this rule. It’s the sixth and latest in the OCTOBER DAYE series, and offers up new surprises about the knight and hero of the Court of Shadowed Hills, Toby Daye.
Toby is surprised herself when Etienne, another of the Court’s knights, approaches her for help. Etienne never seems to have approved of Toby, as he’s a more traditional sort of guy — one who lives in the realms of Faerie rather than the real world of its approximate location, San Francisco. But when he learns that he has unknowingly fathered a changeling, and worse, that the changeling, now a teenager and just starting to come into her powers, has gone missing, he knows he needs someone familiar with the ways of the world to find his child. That’s not an easy task, because Chelsea’s blood makes her a teleporter, and she appears to be a powerful one at that, opening doors that are better left closed. Worse, some of the more evil parts of Faerie find her useful, and aren’t afraid to treat her as badly as necessary to meet their goals.
Many of the best characters in the OCTOBER DAYE series make appearances in Ashes of Honor, even if only for a moment. The Luidaeg provides the magic potions necessary to stop Chelsea, offering a few surprises of her own (not the least of which is that Toby doesn’t have to drink something disgusting in order to accomplish her task, though she does have to submit to the Luidaeg’s bite to provide a bit of blood to incorporate in the magical tools). April, the current Duchess of the knowe called Tamed Lightning who played a starring role in A Local Habitation (the second book in the series), is of assistance to Toby in her search for Chelsea. Officer Michael Thornton of the San Francisco Police Department, with whom Toby has had prior run-ins, also makes an important appearance.
More critically, however, Raj, the heir apparent to the Court of Cats of which Tybalt is the present king, has also gone missing. His father, Samson, is plotting against Tybalt, which complicates the search for the missing teenagers, as do the machinations of Treasa Riordan, the Duchess of Dreamer’s Glass, an ambitious woman who wants more than she’s got. It all turns into a tangled ball of plot, but McGuire never loses the thread. By the time Ashes of Honor ends, the loose ends are all accounted for — or officially abandoned, perhaps to serve as possible fodder for further books in the series.
Ashes of Honor is also available as an audiobook from Brilliance Audio, read by Mary Robinette Kowal. Kowal has a lovely way with McGuire’s language, which tends to flow by when one is reading but takes on a special luster when one is listening. Either way, print or audio, this book is a must for urban fantasy fans.