The Winter Long: One of the best books in a very good series

The Winter Long by Seanan McGuire science fiction and fantasy book and audiobook reviewsThe Winter Long by Seanan McGuire science fiction and fantasy book and audiobook reviewsThe Winter Long by Seanan McGuire

Seanan McGuire’s OCTOBER DAYE series is one that can be divided into two types of books: ones that develop the larger “metaplot,” and ones that deal with more episodic concerns (though the events of the episodic books tend to have important consequences later in the series).

The Winter Long (2014) is a metaplot book, and it’s a doozy.

Toby is ready to crash after the new Queen’s winter solstice party, when the doorbell rings. It’s Simon Torquill: twin brother of Toby’s liege lord, and the man who turned Toby into a fish way back at the beginning of Rosemary and Rue. And he wants to bury the hatchet. He wasn’t trying to ruin Toby’s life when he transformed her, he claims; he was trying to save her from something worse.

And that something worse might still be out there.

Toby visits several of her contacts to investigate Simon’s claims, learning some disturbing information about her own family that people have kept from her for many years.  October Daye Series

She learns very little, though, about this greater threat, because whoever it is, they’re so powerful that they can compel the silence of some very high-powered fae, even the Luideag, Firstborn daughter of Maeve.

What follows is an emotionally intense story that revisits plot points from the very beginning of the series; we learn that everything was not as it seemed back then.

What Toby finds will put the lives of all of her loved ones in danger, and the reader is put through the wringer along the way.

The Winter Long is one of the best books so far in a very good series. It leaves us with several big questions and looming problems for future books, but ends on a thoroughly satisfying note nonetheless.

Published in 2001. Toby thought she understood her own past; she thought she knew the score. She was wrong. It’s time to learn the truth.

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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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  1. I’ve never warmed up to this series, but this one does sound interesting. Of course, I can’t really leap to this one (although I have read Rosemary and Rue.)

  2. I wasn’t crazy about R&R but after your reviews of later books, I feel like I’m missing something and should give it another try.

    • Terry also recommends this series.

      I think if I re-read R&R keeping in mind that I’m meeting a character who is living with depression (as least when the books starts) I might have a better experience.

  3. Jonathan /

    It helps that the later books are mostly not murder mysteries. Seanan McGuire excels at many things, but a good whodunit is not one of really one of them.

    • That’s a good point!

      • Yeah, what she’s really good at is all the fae politics/history and relationship stuff (by which I don’t just mean romantic). I think there was way more of A Thing in the late 00’s that urban fantasy had to be a procedural mystery.

        That said, two books after this is a murder mystery (Once Broken Faith), so YMMV!

  4. I do, indeed, love this series, and I’m reading the upcoming entry in the series, THE UNKINDEST TIDE, right now — and it’s in part a murder mystery, but I’ve always liked that about these books. I love Toby’s voice, and the depth of her knowledge of Faerie — I think she’s mostly using real folklore for the deep personalities of her characters.

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