Fae Friday/October Report: A Cyberpunk Faery-Tale Murder Mystery

Virtual greetings, E-Bookwyrms! Today’s post is a trip down memory board lane, to Book Two in the October Daye series: A Local Habitation. This is Toby’s second case after escaping the pond, a simple check-up on her liege’s niece that, of course, goes horrifyingly sideways.

I will, of course, be reviewing Book 15, When Sorrows Come, in the not-too-distant future, but in the meantime, here’s a very byte-sized preview:

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Rating: 4.75 out of 5 maple and amethyst accents.

Genre: Urban faery tale murder mystery with a heavy dash of political intrigue/The Wedding Episode.

Coffee Pairing: a Tim Horton’s latte with about fifty pumps of maple syrup, garnished with edible amethyst crystals. I’m sure that’s a readily-available condiment in the High King’s kitchens.

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And now! Back to Fremont, California, June 2010.

Cover of A Local Habitation, by Seanan McGuire. A dark-haired, leather jacketed Toby stands against a greenish-grey wall at the edge of an open doorway, her fist clenched around a dagger.  Through the doorway, you see a shadowy, hooded figure with glowing red eyes.

Seanan McGuire. A Local Habitation. New York: DAW, 2010.

Rating: 4.95 out of 5 times people — including Toby herself — break safety protocols and wander the complex alone.

Genre: Cyberpunk faery-tale murder mystery

Playlist: Hook yourself up to the Matrix – Soundtrack (1-3) and Cyberpunk/Dark Techno/Industrial playlists on Spotify. Particularly relevant titles are:

  • Neural Link, by Extra Terra
  • Bad Blood, Alternate Mix, by Ministry (explicit) – from the Matrix soundtrack
  • Reload, by Rob Zombie and Charlie Clouser – from the Matrix Reloaded soundtrack
  • Afterlife Avenue, by Lyde
  • Net Neutrality, by Neo Fresco

Coffee pairing: Hot. Black. Extra-Extra-large. With bottomless refills. This was Toby’s mortal-enough-to-sustain-an-epic-caffeine-addiction phase.

Close up of the red-eyed figure on the cover.

The nutshell: Toby has just about gotten her land legs back after solving the murder of her frenemy Evening Winterrose and avoiding her own death-by-posthumous-curse. She’s rebuilding some semblance of a social life, going out clubbing with her old friends and trading affectionate insults with the King of Cats. She’s also re-entered the mortal private investigation business, firmly declining her liege’s offers to relocate her to the much-more-glamorous Summerlands, where she’d be free from such an offensively mundane concern as rent.

Oh hey, speak of the uncle! Sylvester shows up the morning after a particularly wild night, asking Toby for a favor. His niece January hasn’t been returning his calls and he’s getting a bit worried. She’s the head of a magical tech company called ALH, in the county of Tamed Lightning (where she’s also the countess, btw), and she usually calls once a week. Now it’s been three weeks of silence, and Sylvester can’t go there himself for political reasons.

I mean, it’s probably nothing, but, you know. Just in case. No harm in Toby taking a quick road trip to the county on the edge of the Mists’ closest enemy kingdom, right? As long as the duke himself stays in his geopolitical lane, there should be no trouble.

Oh, and just to be on the safe side, Sylvester sends his young and inexperienced page, Quentin, to observe. He needs the field experience, and this way, nothing catastrophic would dare happen!

Naturally, Toby and Quentin end up walking into the territory of a serial murderer who seems to be draining the victims of their very souls, and find themselves high on the hit list.

What a fabulous learning experience for Quentin!

Close up of the red-eyed figure.

So, somehow, Toby’s stunning ineptitude re: this case made a lot more sense on second read. It is, as I said, only her second official Faerie case and she is still getting her bearings back after her fourteen lost years. She probably still has residual PTSD from that as well as her more recent traumatic experiences. And then there’s the mind-compromising effects of being around Alex and Terrie.

Plus, the thing with Tybalt and the ALH cats no longer seems like a plot hole, since said cats have apparently never been inside the buildings.

And also, even knowing what happens in Of Things Unknown 9.5 books later, there’s still a strong sense of dread and tragedy in this story.

And also also, I can still see why the killer’s identity was a surprise to me the first time around — the red herrings are quite pungent.

Even the Captain Obvious statements and repetitive repetition didn’t annoy me as much; it could be that Toby’s trying to (constantly) convince herself that she doesn’t believe in shielding kids from life’s cruelties. Plus, she needs the assistance and everyone else on the ALH campus is at least as clueless/inept as she is.

Close up of the red-eyed figure.

Other things I (still) love

  • That the county is so poetically named — what else would you call electricity but Tamed Lightning? It fits so well with the interwoven modern/archaic vibe of the whole series. The people who set Faerie’s political boundaries have lived through multiple social and technological revolutions, and yet they never quite outgrow certain childhood world-views. It’s kind of like how the floppy disk will never not be the symbol for “Save” in my mind. Just on a greater time scale.
  • The shuddery spookiness of the night haunts — this is a great one for Halloween. Toby literally summons demons in this one, and their whole purpose and backstory are so delightfully chilling-yet-deeply-and-humanly-understandable. They’re basically the key to not only the secrecy of Faerie but its place within nature. They keep Faerie from being totally disconnected from the earthly plane — which is, I literally just realized as I was writing this — a profound contrast to the killer’s ultimate motive.

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So! If you’re still looking for a good Halloween chiller to curl up with on these delightfully gloomy nights, I highly recommend A Local Habitation! And if you’d like to see my initial review, glitch on over to goodreads.

And that wraps up Halloween Month 2021! What do you think, Bookwyrms? Any of these genre scrambles sound particularly intriguing? Re-read anything lately that pleasantly surprised you into giving it a higher rating? What are your plans for this wicked weekend?

P.S. If you’re craving more sub-genre recs, see Katie Gibson’s list of her favorite literary subgenres at Cakes, Tea and Dreams. I totally second her love of books about books — to which I’d raise her the sub-sub-genre of self-metanarratives (think City of Dreaming Books or The French Lieutenant’s Woman).

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Credits:

Fae Friday © Kristy @ Caffeinated Fae. My post technically fits today’s prompt, since Toby is functionally a vampire.

2 comments

  1. Great post! I’ll be adding the October Daye series to my TBR list too… now… if I could just find a time turner to have more time to read 🙂

    • Ha! A time turner would be so handy for us bookwyrms! Maybe we should request that audiobook editions of the Toby books be added to Libby or Hoopla. Libby has the text versions, but only Wayward Children audios.

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