The Brightest Fell: “Magic can be reversed. Trauma isn’t that simple.”

The Brightest Fell by Seanan McGuire science fiction and fantasy book and audiobook reviewsThe Brightest Fell by Seanan McGuire science fiction and fantasy book and audiobook reviewsThe Brightest Fell by Seanan McGuire

After two “monster of the week” episodes, The Brightest Fell (2017) brings us back to the secrets that were revealed in The Winter Long, surrounding Amandine, Simon, Eira Rosynhwyr — and Toby’s long-lost sister, August. But first, Seanan McGuire draws us in, as she did in Once Broken Faith, with a heartwarming scene of comic relief. This time, it’s Toby’s bachelorette party. The. Luideag. Sings. Karaoke. You don’t want to miss this.

The cozy mood is not to last, though, because Toby’s estranged mother Amandine shows up afterward. She wants Toby to find August. Now. And as collateral, she kidnaps two of Toby’s nearest and dearest. Now Toby is on a quest and a race against time, and she’s traveling with her old enemy Simon, because he’s the only person other than Amandine who might have any idea of where to start.

Their journey revisits places and characters we’ve seen before; it turns out that August’s and Toby’s paths have almost intersected more than once. This means running into old friends, and old enemies — as in the fairy tales, all your long-ago kindnesses will come back to help you, but all your old mistakes will come back to haunt you too.

 October Daye SeriesToby’s arc is great, and Simon’s is stunning, and tragic. For Toby, he provides a cautionary tale of what could happen if she allows herself to become too ruthless in the defense of her family. As he puts it, “a good man might become a villain thinking himself a hero in his heart.” Everything McGuire does with Simon in this book is fantastic.

The Brightest Fell is one of the most intense books yet in the OCTOBER DAYE series, and a welcome return to the overarching plot. Like goblin fruit, it leaves the reader craving more. It also includes the novella “Of Things Unknown,” which I loved. It’s told from the point of view of April O’Leary, the cyber-Dryad, who learns that there may be a way to put right some of the wrongs from A Local Habitation. In this story, McGuire takes us inside a mind that works very differently from the usual human mind, or even the usual faerie mind. I was surprised by how moved I was by “Of Things Unknown,” since it’s been a long time since A Local Habitation was fresh in my memory. Thematically, it fits well with The Brightest Fell; it, too, asks how far one will go to save a loved one.

Published in 2017. Contains an original bonus novella, Of Things Unknown! Things are slow, and October “Toby” Daye couldn’t be happier about that.  The elf-shot cure has been approved, Arden Windermere is settling into her position as Queen in the Mists, and Toby doesn’t have anything demanding her attention except for wedding planning and spending time with her family. Maybe she should have realized that it was too good to last. When Toby’s mother, Amandine, appears on her doorstep with a demand for help, refusing her seems like the right thing to do…until Amandine starts taking hostages, and everything changes.  Now Toby doesn’t have a choice about whether or not she does as her mother asks. Not with Jazz and Tybalt’s lives hanging in the balance. But who could possibly help her find a pureblood she’s never met, one who’s been missing for over a hundred years? Enter Simon Torquill, elf-shot enemy turned awakened, uneasy ally. Together, the two of them must try to solve one of the greatest mysteries in the Mists: what happened to Amandine’s oldest daughter, August, who disappeared in 1906. This is one missing person case Toby can’t afford to get wrong.

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KELLY LASITER, with us since July 2008, is a mild-mannered academic administrative assistant by day, but at night she rules over a private empire of tottering bookshelves. Kelly is most fond of fantasy set in a historical setting (a la Jo Graham) or in a setting that echoes a real historical period (a la George RR Martin and Jacqueline Carey). She also enjoys urban fantasy and its close cousin, paranormal romance, though she believes these subgenres’ recent burst in popularity has resulted in an excess of dreck. She is a sucker for pretty prose (she majored in English, after all) and mythological themes.

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