I was sure I wrote this up already. How did I take over a month to get this up? Something is wrong with me . . .
“Um, this IS Toby,” sald Quentin. “We’re always about to die. When we’re not about to die, we’re still about to be about to die. She’s like a Rube Goldberg machine whose only job is generating .life-threatening situations.”
What a difference a book makes -- at the beginning of The Brightest Fell, Toby was happy, her life was looking good, she was relaxing -- and then trouble struck. At the beginning of this book, she's probably in the worst straits she's been in since getting out of the fish pond. Toby and her loved ones are still reeling from and dealing with the repercussions of that last novel ("not dealing with" might be more accurate, but why quibble?). Jazz is messed up in ways that are hard to fathom; her relationship with mentor/champion/sponsor, Sylvester, is in shambles; and worst of all, her fiancé is a shattered version of himself, barely able to be in the same room with her.
And then the other shoe drops (at this point, you might be thinking we're talking about an Imelda Marcos-sized collection, as many of these have dropped): her very human daughter, Gillian has been kidnapped -- and her father and step-mother are accusing Toby.
Yeah, kidnapped again. But this time it's worse (and the last time was no walk in the dark). If anything is going to prove to be the straw that breaks the camel's back -- this could be it. Toby, May, Quentin -- and some other allies band together to find the girl before something happens to her that will make the last kidnapping look pedestrian.
Sylvester is around for a lot of this novel -- I was afraid he wouldn't be. Sylvester has long been one of the -- maybe the -- best part of the series, and to see him in this state? It took so much away from this book. I know that's the point, and I want to stress I'm not complaining -- but man...it sucked. A lot of the emotional beats to this part of the story seemed to repeat themselves -- and I wondered if it was a little filler. I decided that as often as Toby was reassuring Tybalt that they could work through things and get him better, McGuire was reassuring the reader that Sylvester could be recovered. I'm not sure it's the case, but I'm going with that explanation.
This book has the best use of May since . . . well, probably since we met her in this form. Usually, May is too much in the background for my taste. But not in this novel. She's strong, she's emotional -- she's a major player in the events of this novel. We need to see her as active as she is here more often.
The debt that Toby keeps incurring to the Luidaeg is getting huge. Aunt or no, she can't keep going like this forever, and at some point the sea witch is going to collect. This is going to be horrible.
Along the way, we learn a great deal about Toby's human family -- some of which will make the reader's jaw drop, all of which will make Toby reconsider things -- and like so much of what we've learned the last couple of books, what we've "known" before wasn't necessarily right.
This isn't the strongest Toby Daye novel, but an "iffy" Toby novel is still rocking by other series' standards. This was a strong, satisfying read -- as troubling as it was. And the next one isn't going to be much easier to read -- but I know it'll be worth it. I don't know that this is the book to jump on the series with, but it might work. But I can assuring long-term readers that this will scratch that itch just fine.