Rather than try and review each of these books separately, as I rushed through them so quickly that I can no longer separate them, I thought instead I’d just mainly explain to you why ALL of the books are awesome, and why they’ve become one of my top two favorite urban fantasy series. Then I can review the latest, One Salt Sea, without the other books hanging over my head calling for their reviews.
As I’ve already reviewed Rosemary and Rue, you’ll know that the main character of the series is October “Toby” Daye, a half-breed Daoine Sidhe who has her mother’s blood magic but is greatly weakened due to her mortal father. After a certain age, Toby grew up mostly on the streets, until she became a knight under the service of Sylvester, the Duke of Shadowed Hills. On her first and only failed case, Toby wound up transformed into a fish, while her liege lord’s wife and daughter endured years of suffering. After recovering, Toby decided to avoid the magic world, until she wasn’t given a choice. Ever since she was mostly restored to her role as a knight in the first book, Toby’s returned to the world of magic, got tied up in complicated politics, saved (and failed to save) countless people, and very nearly died. More than once.
There are so many things to love about these books that I can’t express them all. Even just on the surface, the fact that all of the books are named by a Shakespeare quote appeals to my very literary soul, and shows that McGuire is going a bit further than your standard kickass girl urban fantasy. These books get to you, at least they got to me, and they worm their way under your skin. The magic system is so clever and fleshed out, with new species and kinds of magic revealed in every single book. McGuire pulls from myths, from standard fantasy, and from an imagination that is very clearly her own to create a world that’s one of the best mixes of fantasy and city I’ve ever seen. Toby may live in the city, but many of her magical counterparts live in old-fashioned duchies and counties, their knowes hidden across the landscape.
And then there are the characters and their relationships with one another. Toby loves fiercely, even when it’s complicated, and will protect those she cares about with a vengeance. As the series has moved on, these relationships have developed, whether they are with her ex Connor, who is now married to the daughter of her liege lord, her Fetch May, whose appearance in theory means she will die soon, or the King of the Cait Sithe, Tybalt (my personal favorite).
Best of all, the books have that “epic” feel which you all know I absolutely adore. Somehow, when Toby is up against the world, the book just consumes me and the struggle feels real, immediate, and breath-taking. These are the kind of books I dash through because I’m so worried about the main characters and I need to know what happens to them. After I read the first book, I bought ALL of the rest because I knew I was going to need them, and then I read them and pre-ordered the latest. These are the books you simply can’t put down, that keep you up at night, that make you ignore anyone who actually tries to speak to you while you’re reading (seriously, how dare they?).
So, in conclusion to this, if you’ve ever enjoyed any sort of fantasy, urban or not, I’d highly recommend this series to you. McGuire just gets better and better with every installment, and I can’t wait to share One Salt Sea with you next week. And also, I must thank Ana of The Book Smugglers for introducing me to this series, as she pressed the first book into my hand and told me I should read it. She was so right!
If you do read these, and you really should, the series order is:
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