It’s been a month since the defeat of Oleander de Merelands, since the Duke’s mad daughter Rayseline went on the lam, and since October Daye was brought back from the brink of death and restored to the power level she should have had all along.
This is a lot to deal with, and now there’s a new problem in Faerie. The two sons of a mermaid Duchess have been kidnapped. Unless they can be found, the sea fae will declare war upon those of the land, with disastrous casualties for both sides. If anyone can find the boys before it’s too late, it’s Toby, though it’ll mean facing her fear of the water. In a reversal of the fairy tale “The Little Mermaid,” Toby goes to the sea witch (a.k.a. the Luideag) for a spell that will enable her to survive underwater. She investigates both land and sea in her search for the boys… and then the case takes a turn for the very, very personal.
In One Salt Sea, Seanan McGuire deepens her exploration of most of the major characters. In one of the book’s most haunting scenes, she shows us just how broken Rayseline really is, making me pity her as much as I hated her. Another character, whom I’d found boring, won a bittersweet sort of admiration from me here. We learn more about Toby’s Fetch, May: why she attached herself to Toby in the first place, and why she’s still in existence. We see Toby’s human ex and daughter again. We get tantalizing moments of Tybalt goodness. And Toby herself is compelling as always — maybe even more so than usual, since this case strikes so close to home — and as an added bonus, she’s on the ball this time and there aren’t any moments of wondering why she’s missing the obvious.
One Salt Sea is the best October Daye book to date; everything that’s great about the series comes together in one book. The plot is strong, the characterization is terrific, the tragedies hurt, a few things that were confusing are explained here, and McGuire’s usual beautiful writing and dark humor are present and accounted for. This has become one of my favorite urban fantasy series, and I can’t wait to find out what happens next.