Top positive review
Reviewed in the United States on November 29, 2021
An Artificial Night is book 3 of Seanan McGuire's October Daye series. October (Toby) Daye is a half-fairy private investigator in San Francisco. The first two novels were murder mysteries and leaned into Toby's PI profession. This one is different. It is a quest, of the type famously and tediously documented by Joseph Campbell.
Toby is actually not a very good investigator. She has one go-to investigative technique, blood magic, which allows her to rifle the memories of a corpse. It's a good trick, but when it fails her she is at a loss. She herself is dismissive of her investigative abilities. For instance, she writes, "By Wednesday, I knew that we were dealing with a Barghest infestation. I could try to claim the discovery was solely due to my awesome investigative skills, but that wouldn’t be entirely accurate. The truth was, I stepped on one while I was searching the place." (In fact, any investigator will tell you that searching the place until you stumble on what you're looking for is exactly the kind of thing awesome investigators do.)
An Artificial Night looks like a mystery when it starts. A bunch of children mysteriously vanish. However, Toby solves the mystery almost immediately using another awesome investigative skill: asking people who know the answer. The children have been taken by Blind Michael, master of the Wild Hunt. (All this, BTW, is in the publisher's blurb for the book, so I'm not counting it as spoilers.)
So Toby now has the problem of rescuing the children who were taken. That is her quest, and to complete it Toby uses her greatest talent, survival: "I’m just a half-blood with a talent for not getting killed." It is a complex quest. And it makes a beautiful and harrowing story. Therefore five stars.