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The Unkindest Tide (October Daye Book 13) Kindle Edition
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Hundreds of years ago, the Selkies made a deal with the sea witch: they would have the sea for as long as she allowed it, and when the time came, she would call in all their debts at once. Many people assumed that day would never come. Those people were wrong.
When the Luidaeg--October "Toby" Daye's oldest and most dangerous ally--tells her the time has come for the Selkies to fulfill their side of the bargain, and that Toby must be a part of the process, Toby can't refuse. Literally. The Selkies aren't the only ones in debt to the Luidaeg, and Toby has to pay what she owes like anyone else. They will travel to the fabled Duchy of Ships and call a convocation of the Selkies, telling them to come and meet the Luidaeg's price...or face the consequences.
Of course, nothing is that simple. When Dianda Lorden's brother appears to arrest Dianda for treason against the Undersea, when a Selkie woman is stripped of her skin and then murdered, when everything is falling apart, that's when Toby will have to answer the real question of the hour.
Is she going to sink? Or is she going to swim?
"The top of my urban-paranormal series list! I am so invested in the worldbuilding and the characters.... The romance is real and awesome, but doesn't overshadow the adventure." —Felicia Day
"The 13th outing for Daye is just as fresh and exciting as the first. McGuire has built a complex world, where seemingly loose ends are woven tightly into the series. Highly recommended." —Library Journal (starred)
"Toby’s combination of pragmatic heroism and relentless self-destruction makes her a compelling heroine in a secret folklore-filled world that still feels fresh and dangerous after all this time." —Publishers Weekly
"The worldbuilding in this series has astonishing depth, and Night and Silence is no exception—12 books in, McGuire is still giving readers fascinating new pieces of the Faerie puzzle." —Booklist
"I can't believe McGuire can come up with another adventure as riveting as this one. But then I say that after every book in this series." —SFRevu
"McGuire has never lacked for courage in her writing.... The phenomenally inventive October Daye series showcases her narrative daring and ingenuity beautifully." —RT Reviews
"Prepare to be dazzled.... Like the best of urban fantasy, with each reveal and mystery solved, Toby's world grows ever more enticing. As seductive as Faerie itself, this is one series I could never give up." —All Things Urban Fantasy
"These books are like watching half a season of your favorite television series all at once.... More than anything else, it's the fun of it all that's kept me returning to McGuire's books and to this series." —SF Signal
"The plot is strong, the characterization is terrific, the tragedies hurt...and McGuire's usual beautiful writing and dark humor are present and accounted for. This has become one of my favorite urban fantasy series." —Fantasy Literature
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
March 8th, 2014
What's the unkindest tide?
-William Shakespeare, Two Gentlemen of Verona.
Some people believe the rise of the cell phone-and the associated rise of the cell phone camera-must have been a boon for the private detective. After all, when your camera isn't just handheld, but is also attached to a personal communication device, it seems like it should be easier to surreptitiously photograph people doing things they aren't supposed to do. Like cheating on their spouses, or money laundering, or trying to violate the terms of their custody agreements. All those charming, frustrating little ways that people like to break the rules, captured for the courts with a single press of a button. No fuss, no muss, no need to get anything developed. Swell, right?
Not so much. The trouble is, cell phone cameras have a long way to go before they'll match the capabilities of a good zoom lens or long-distance rig, much less exceed them-and that's where I have a problem. I still need my good lenses, but the more ubiquitous cell phones become, the more your classic camera stands out to the curious bystander. I used to be able to wander around with my trusty Canon slung around my neck and be confident that anyone who saw me would take me for a tourist. Not anymore. These days, people notice. People talk.
Some days I wind up taking lots of pictures of flowers and graffiti and showing them to anyone who seems too interested. It deflects suspicion, and it's surprisingly soothing, even if I'm not going to get a gallery show any time soon. More often, I use some of my precious magic to hide my camera behind a veil of illusion. It makes me look like some sort of bizarre mime whenever I take a picture, but somehow, this is less obviously weird, at least in San Francisco.
Humans are strange.
I'd been following a man around the city with my veiled camera for three days, trying to get pictures of him meeting with a group of "investors" who were planning to use underhanded means to buy shares in his company. I didn't fully understand why they didn't just call their stockbrokers, but the man who'd hired me was the first man's business partner, and he was paying me well for my time and expertise. I don't question the check, as long as it cashes.
I used to be a more or less full-time private detective. These days, knight errantry eats up a lot of time, leaving me with curtailed work hours. Knight errantry also doesn't pay, not when you're talking cash money, and I'd jumped at the chance to pad my bank account back to something resembling normal. I have a lot of mouths to feed at home, and that doesn't even go into the cost of veterinary cat food for my two geriatric Siamese.
My patience had paid off. Patience so often does. After three days, several near misses, and two false positions, it had all come together in a photo opportunity so perfect that I'd checked to make sure it wasn't being staged. I'd captured the pictures my client wanted without being seen by my target, and had dropped off the film in exchange for a lovely check, complete with hefty bonus. Not too bad for half a week's work.
Depositing the check had been quick and easy and best of all, gave me an excuse to pick up burritos from my favorite taqueria. The scent of them filled the car, making me drive a little faster. Burritos are best when they're hot, and I wanted to get these home to my family before they had a chance to cool.
Home. Family. Two words I used to think would never apply to me again, which just goes to show how much things can change. Sometimes they even change for the better.
My name is October Daye. I'm a changeling, which is a fancy way of saying "one of my parents was human, and one of them wasn't." It sounds simple. It's not. Being a changeling means never really knowing where you belong. It means always feeling like you're standing on the outside of two worlds, unable to commit to being a part of either one, equally unable to walk away.
It's even more complicated in my case. I was raised thinking I was half Daoine Sidhe on my mother's side, making me a descendant of Titania. Well, it turns out my mother, Amandine the Liar, is actually the daughter of Oberon himself. She's Firstborn, and I'm . . .
I'm not completely new, but I'm not all that old, either. There are only three of my kind of fae in all of Faerie. We're called the D—chas Sidhe. I'm still trying to figure out exactly what that means.
To add another fun little wrinkle, my mother's mother is a human woman, Janet Carter. Yes, that Janet, the one whose interference with Maeve's final Ride led to the Winter Queen's disappearance and changed the course of Faerie forever. So that's something fun for me to live with. Janet is still alive, by the way. She married my ex-fianc after I disappeared for fourteen years. My daughter Gillian calls her "Mom."
My family tree has a lot of thorns, and a tendency to draw blood.
Being a changeling usually also means living on the fringes of Faerie's political structure, since the fact that we're mortal is seen as a sign of weakness. Again, things are different for me. Duke Sylvester Torquill of Shadowed Hills stepped in as my protector and patron while I was still a child. Thanks to him, when I got tired of living on the streets with the rest of the changeling kids, I had someone to back me up and take care of me. Under his protection, and after I'd discovered a new knowe for the then-Queen of the Mists, I'd been able to study for and eventually achieve my knighthood-something that was almost unthinkable for a changeling, even one with my bloodline.
Being a knight gave me a place in the Courts. It was a low place, sure, and many people regarded it as scarcely better than being treated like a particularly clever pet, but it had been enough to give me something to hold onto. I'm surprisingly difficult to shake once I have something to hold onto.
I started as a knight, became a knight errant-sort of a fancy way of saying "odd jobs person for the fae courts of the San Francisco Bay area"-deposed an illegitimate monarch, and helped the true ruler of the Mists claim her family's throne. It was a lot of work, and resulted in my being named a hero of the realm, which is sort of like being a knight errant, only more so. Heroes of the realm protect people.
And I have people to protect. Somewhere along the way, despite everything, I found my people. I have a squire. I have a Fetch. I have a man I love, who wants to marry me. I have a family, and they were all waiting for me to get home with dinner.
I drove a little faster.
The past three months hadn't been perfect, but they'd been surprisingly peaceful, despite presenting their own unique challenges. Gillian-who had been born a thin-blooded changeling and then turned completely human in order to save her from a painful, elf-shot-induced death-was finally part of Faerie. I'd been resigned to the possibility that I'd never see my daughter again, that one day I'd have to add her grave to the list of those I visited regularly, decking them with rosemary and rue.
Only it hadn't worked out that way. One of my old enemies, the false Queen of the Mists, had arranged for the kidnapping of my only child, and had nearly killed her by jamming an arrow dipped in elf-shot into her shoulder. Elf-shot is always fatal to humans. Gilly should have died. Gilly would have died if Tybalt hadn't reached her before the poison could stop her heart. He'd carried her onto the Shadow Roads, which are only accessible to the Cait Sidhe, and from there to the Luidaeg, the sea witch of legend, and my mother's sister.
Like I said, my family is complicated.
The Luidaeg had been able to give Gillian a chance to survive. She'd draped my daughter in a Selkie's skin, chasing the mortality from her bones for at least a hundred years. Most Selkies don't keep their skins that long, but in Gilly's case . . .
The elf-shot would linger in her system for a century. That's what elf-shot was designed to do. It puts purebloods to sleep, and it keeps them that way until the world changes around them, becoming something alien and strange. If Gilly set her sealskin aside before the poison faded, she would die. Her humanity was the price of staying alive. It was seeing her father, her friends, everyone she'd ever cared about grow old and die while she continued on. She'd chosen to be human when I gave her the Changeling's Choice, and then the false Queen and the Luidaeg had taken that away from her, one out of malice and one out of mercy, and I had to wonder whether she'd ever forgive any of us.
I haven't spoken to her since the day she woke up and realized her life had changed forever. I promised to give her whatever space she needed, to let her be the one to come to me. But really, I don't know what to say. "I'm sorry I saved your life" is a lie. So is "It's better to be fae." And "I didn't want this for you" just might be the biggest lie of all. Of course, I wanted this-or something like it. She's my daughter. I want her with me.
But I'm not the mother she reaches for when she's scared, or lost, or lonely. That honor goes to my own grandmother, Janet Carter, who stepped in and raised my child when Faerie conspired to take me away from her for fourteen years.
Sometimes I hate my biological family. Maybe that's why I've worked so hard to build myself a new one.
It was simultaneously late enough and early enough that traffic was light. The Market District was closed for the evening, sending its burden of businesspeople and their support staff scurrying back to their safe, secure homes, while the bars and clubs downtown had yet to hit their full swing. I passed Dolores Park and pulled into the driveway of my old Victorian-style house in nearly record time. The kitchen lights were on. I turned off the car, opened the door, and was accosted by the sound of classic rock blasting through the open window. May was singing along as Journey asserted the need to continue to believe. May, like me, can't carry a tune in a bucket. The effect was surprisingly charming. It said "you're safe here." It said "nothing is currently wrong."
It said "welcome home."
Since there were people home, the wards weren't set; all I needed to get inside was my key. I stepped into the warm, bright kitchen, where my Fetch was dancing in front of the counter as she mixed a bowl of cookie dough. She turned and grinned at me.
"I hope you got extra burritos," she said. "We have extra mouths in residence."
I raised an eyebrow. "How many?"
"Dean and Raj."
I raised the other eyebrow. "Raj got away for the evening?"
May nodded. "Uh-huh. Gin told him part of kingship is being able to delegate every once in a while, so he's our problem until midnight. That's why I'm baking cookies. They're working that poor boy to the bone."
"That poor boy is going to be King of Cats; he signed up for this." I swiped a fingerful of cookie dough as I headed for the hall. May laughed and hit me with her mixing spoon, getting more dough on my wrist. I grinned and kept walking, sticking my wrist in my mouth to suck off the sugary goodness.
As my Fetch-technically retired, since Amandine broke the connection between us when she changed the balance of my blood to save my life-May and I used to be identical. Now, years and quests and changes later, we still look like sisters, but we're not twins anymore. Her face is the one I had when she was called into existence, soft and round and human in ways my own face has forgotten. Her eyes are a pale, misty gray, and her hair is the no-color brown that drives a thousand salon appointments, a color she's constantly at war with, covering it in streaks of blue and green and purple and, most recently, flaming orange. It makes her happy, and I like it when she's happy. After all, she's my sister in every way that counts.
Her live-in girlfriend, Jazz, was in the dining room, sitting at the table and clipping coupons out of an advertising circular. She tensed and looked up at the sound of my footsteps, golden eyes briefly widening before she relaxed and offered me a somewhat weary smile. "Hey, Toby," she said. "Need me to move?"
"Up to you." I held up the bag of burritos. "As soon as I crinkle the foil, we're going to have an invasion of teenage boys. Salsa may fly. Your coupons could get royally wrecked."
"Yes, but I'll have salsa, so I'll live."
I watched her gather her coupons as I set my bag down and unpacked its contents. Fortunately for my ability to eat my own dinner, I always make it a point to pick up a couple of extra burritos these days. My house contains between one and four teenagers at any given moment in time-more if Chelsea's over and has decided she needs one or more of Mitch and Stacy's daughters to save her from being outnumbered by the boys. If there's one thing fae and mortal teens absolutely have in common, it's the ability to eat more than should be physically possible. I once found Quentin absently gnawing on a stick of butter while he was doing his homework. It would be terrifying, if it wasn't so impressive.
Jazz is a Raven-maid, one of the few types of diurnal fae. She and May make it work, mostly by spending their mornings and evenings together, then each doing other things while the other is asleep. For Jazz, "other things" usually means running her small secondhand store in Berkeley, on the other side of the Bay. Recently, though . . .
Recently, it's mostly meant staying in the house with the doors and windows closed, steadfastly refusing to look outside and see the birds in flight. My mother broke something deep inside Jazz when she kidnapped her from what should have been the safety of her own home. It had been part of an effort to blackmail me into bringing back her eldest daughter, my missing sister, August. As usual, Amandine hadn't cared who might get hurt, as long as she got her way.--This text refers to the mass_market edition.
- ASIN : B07L7RVR7S
- Publisher : DAW (September 3, 2019)
- Publication date : September 3, 2019
- Language : English
- File size : 3196 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 366 pages
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #60,306 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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I was very critical of the last Toby Daye novel, Night and Silence. While I also acknowledge that McGuire and this series remain automatic reads for me, at least for a few more books, it IS a relief that there are major improvements in UT. Generally, a new environment, new exploration of Toby’s magical skills (the ability to see how a spell is constructed), and the conclusion of a major plot point (debt/Selkies), definitely makes it feel as if we’re treading new ground.
There are certainly cons as well, which are included below ****with spoilers**** and are significant enough that this rates about a 3.5/5 for me.
Pros (in no particular order with MINOR SPOILERS):
Pacing. Either McGuire or her editors pared this down to the essentials, which keeps the plot moving forward. Unlike previous books, we’re not bogged down with pages of background. When Toby references the past, it’s a concise summary. Very much appreciated.
The disbursement of debt (finally). I’m glad we no longer need to refer ominously to Toby’s accumulation of debts now that she and the Luidaeg are (basically) square. Yes, she accumulates more here - I’m really glad Simon is part of her new set of debts and I’m looking forward to that eventual book - but we can thankfully move past the Selkies, their uncertain future, and Toby’s role for at least 7 more years.
Tybalt and Jazz. One of my gripes with the last book was how clumsily Tybalt and Jazz’s trauma had been addressed. Here, They’re clearly coping (or not) in different ways, and I appreciate that Tybalt’s recovery is depicted as incrementally improving (he’s got back some of his verve) but still fragile. It’s a sensitive portrayal.
Logical inconsistencies (SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS).
There were plot holes that could have been tightened up. The two that bothered me the most:
The Luidaeg explicitly told the Selkies that they could steal each others’ skins but then was shocked that the Selkies might resort to assault and murder. Seriously? You’ve given these people a hard deadline to secure their and their childrens’ immortality. Why would anyone with more than two brain cells to rub together - which the Luidaeg demonstrably has - believe this would be a civilized affair? Also: did she WANT it to be a civilized affair? My initial belief was that she laid down these ground rules purposely IN ORDER to incite a massacre the way the Roane were massacred. That would’ve been crazy (awesomely) diabolical, but it turns out she was just sloppy with her words. I understand that the Luidaeg is the all-powerful-but-not-cruel semi-goddess and we’re trying to humanize her, but she’s starting to seem toothless to me.
How on earth did Toby jump to the conclusion - with zero evidence or foreshadowing - that Torin was involved with Isla? Honest question, if I missed something, let me know. I quite literally have no idea how or why that suspicion formed.
Tybalt and October’s relationship. This might be unpopular, but I found Tybalt and October’s dynamic really unhealthy. I counted three or four times when October essentially dismissed/ignored Tybalt’s pleas to consider his feelings or his desire for her safety. And mind you, he wasn’t trying to limit her, he was asking to be factored into her decision-making.
These weren’t overbearingly chauvinistic requests , and I hate that October either became immediately defensive or outright ignored his feelings. This isn’t a model for a healthy relationship and I don’t know why I’m supposed to be rooting for this couple. Perhaps if I thought McGuire was going to address this honestly, it wouldn’t be a pet peeve, but I’m not seeing any sign of that happening. Instead, Toby hugs it out with Tybalt, stokes his hair, and placates him, but doesn’t respect him enough to take his fears/wants/desires seriously. She’s being a jerk and it’s gross.
Mainstay characters reduced to caricatures. Specifically, the previously well-drawn Quentin is now the wisecracking sidekick teen while Dean has been written as some fluttering damsel perpetually horrified by Q’s lack of gravitas and fainting everywhere. It’s irritating when October plays irreverent ad nauseam and it’s equally so here. If you’re going to write a primary character badly or feel like you don’t have the space to do them justice, write them out of the instalment. It’s not like I was missing Sylvester, or even May, for that matter.
Ambivalent: Gillian and Raj’s short story. I despise Gillian, so the fact that I’m ambivalent about her presence in UT either means my tolerance has risen, my standards are lower, or she was slightly more likeable. Hard to choose. Raj’s short story was welcome, but not enough to add (or detract) a star from UT.
Ultimately, I recommend this book with caveats. I mean..UT is $13. Night and Silence is now ~$8. If you’re hesitant and not in a huge rush, then wait for the price to drop. I’m not yet at that point, but it’ll be a factor in the future if the next books are in the 2-3 star range.
There are improvements where it counts - and probably more than I’m listing above - although the ‘cons’ on this list REALLY irked me (and it wasn’t an exhaustive list either). I think it’s up to each reader to decide whether this worth the immediate investment.
Very interested in hearing others’ thoughts.
Edit: I should add that the cost bears some responsibility for my ending here. Lately I've had to abandon purchasing several beloved authors - ones who have series like this one that I've followed for years - because of the cost. I did not purchase hardcover books before Kindle because I couldn't afford them. Now some Kindle prices are approaching what hardcover books used to cost. If this book had been amazingly good, like the first many books in the series, I might have ignored my irritation over the cost, even though it meant not purchasing other books I wanted, in order to continue the series. Since it is so pricey, and since I didn't care for this book and didn't love the previous one, I'll end it. I'm glad for the years that I had to read the series, because it was really good for many years. If you haven't read the series, I highly recommend doing so, but be aware that this is one series that may not continue to entertain as well after a certain point.
#1. Price is too high, losing the reason to have a Kindle for me, esp. since the quality of the stories are dwindling. From now on I will wait till there are enough reviews to read, before considering paying $12.99 for the latest release.
#2. Way too much rehashing of previous stories to explain the present things that are happening. Please put whatever info is pertinent in a forward, or whatever format is appropriate. Having to skim multiple pages thru out the book kills the enjoyment.
#3. This book feels like a mish-mosh of ideas from previous ones, and the characters are mostly thin and disappointing, compared to before. Tybalt is but a stick figure and sycophant (so far gone from what made him an irresistible character), whose main job is to beg Toby to reconsider her ridiculous schemes. Toby's virtual indestructibility has become ludicrous, as her latest unbelievable atrocious injuries illustrate. You can only rely on this as a plot device so many times before it becomes useless. Rejuvenating blood donations can only suspend belief for so long.
#4. It seems like the author has lost her enthusiasm for the story, or just really needed to get this one over with, obligation wise. It's time to move on, at least for me.
Top reviews from other countries
Everyone knew that the day would come that the Luideag, the Firstborn Seawitch, would call in the debts owed to her. And now it’s time for Toby to pay up and make them even again. And the fae race of the Selkies, who came into life by killing the Luideag’s decendant race, the Roane, also have to finally pay for the crimes their ancestors did to the witch.
So Toby and a part of her usual gang join the Luideag on a enchanted ship and the adventure on the ocean begins.
As usual, Toby bleeds a lot, does her cool hero thing and has actually one of her best ideas ever, but: no spoiling the good stuff. But although I love October to death, this is the Luideag‘s story, even if she is away for a good part of the book. The things she said were so wonderfully written that I read them over and over.
Aside from the flawless world and character building, there is another story arc of this series coming to an end and in a exciting way. Added to that, there is one future job for Toby announced that is surely going to be another great hero’s story and a few ominous sentences are uttered that promise more twists and turns in the series.
If you’ve read any of my other „Toby Daye“ Reviews, you know that I’m a fan of the series, so you have to take that into account. But in a sea of mediocre urban fantasy books, these really are just plain goodness.
I also loved the novella at the end, from Raj’s point of view. I thought there was some great character development there, and growth. He’ll make a great King of Cats. I also liked that there was a non-binary character who was accepted by everyone, and treated with the same respect as anyone else.