As the story begins, Toby finds the body of a young changeling who died from the effects of goblin fruit, a naturally-occurring narcotic that has "sweet purple berries that smell like everything good in the world and give purebloods beautiful dreams." (p. 2) Purebloods can eat the berries or jam made from the berries and enjoy the effects without the danger of addiction, but if a changeling eats just one berry, he or she becomes immediately and irreparably addicted, "wasting away on a diet of nothing but sweet fruit and fantasies." (p. 2) Toby is determined to stop the spread of goblin fruit addiction, so she asks for assistance from her long-time enemy, the Queen of the Mists. When Toby learns that the Queen is behind the sales of goblin fruit to changelings and that she will not stop selling the fruit to changelings, Toby is furious. As usual, she speaks her mind, and the Queen reacts in her usual vicious manner—banishing Toby from her demesne and giving her only three days to pack up and get out.
When Toby goes to the Luidaeg for help, the sea witch advises her to "try talking to some of the people who knew King Gilad and find out what they can tell you." (p. 43) Toby is accompanied on her investigation by her boyfriend, Tybalt (King of the Dreaming Cats), and Quentin, her squire. As they follow the clues, they learn the truth about the identity of King Gilad's children. The rest of the story follows Toby and her friends as they work hard to take down the Queen before Toby's three days are up. Along the way, Toby is attacked and injured in a manner that almost turns her human. She also learns the identity of Quentin's parents. As a child, Quentin was blindly fostered to Duke Sylvester Torquill (Toby's liege lord), and he has never discussed his parentage with Toby, although she has always been curious.
Toby's love life is the only thing that goes smoothly for her in this book. She and Tybalt have exchanged the "love" word, and throughout this adventure he supports her in every way, right up until the moment when she has to save his life for a change.
This is another great chapter in Toby's story, with plenty of emotional turmoil, compelling action, and nail-biting suspense. Particularly fascinating are Toby's trips to the Library of Stars, where she meets Magdaleana (aka Mags), the eccentric Librarian, and learns the real truth about the Queen of the Mists. The main conflict is resolved in the obligatory show-down scene that ends the book, but there are several loose ends that will trip Toby up in future adventures, particularly the one that includes her rash promise to the scary night-haunts.
Whenever I read this series, I wish with all my heart that every author who tries writing in the first person could do it as perfectly and as elegantly as McGuire does. Toby has always been a strong, courageous, and independent (but vulnerable) heroine who does not have to don black leather bustiers or constantly spout the f-word to intimidate her enemies. She is a breath of fresh air among urban fantasy heroines, and I can't wait for her next adventure. This book is not a stand-alone, though; it should be read in the context of the previous books in the series. If you haven't been reading the series, I recommend that you start with Rosemary and Rue. If you do that, I'm certain that you'll be hooked.
October “Toby” Daye is a changeling—daughter of a fae mother and a human father. In this world, all of the old familiar fairy tales are basically true, but we got the details wrong. The land of Faerie has existed parallel to the mortal world since the dawn of time. Although it is frequently hidden, it is always present. Faerie is inhabited by many different types of creatures, including pixies, elves, gnomes, shape-shifting cats, sea witches, and plenty of Faerie royalty. Faerie society is ancient and complex, with many feuds, rivalries, and shifting alliances, all of which make Toby's life a constant challenge.
Here's what McGuire says about the titles on her web site: "While I'm careful to select plays for their content as much as for having cool-sounding quotes, the parallels may not always be the obvious ones. I'm trying not to repeat plays if I have any other choice, and have a file of potential names, just in case it becomes an issue." Click HERE to read FAQs about the series, including FAQs about Toby's world.
Click HERE to go to to go to the page on McGuire's web site entitled "Toby Short Stories" to read free short stories set in Toby's world. Click HERE to read McGuire's "Fairy Tale Survival FAQ," a clever and humorous page that invites you to imagine that you yourself are trapped in a fairy tale and provides answers to questions that will ensure that you survive your experience. Click HERE to read the "TOBY DAYE FAQ" page, which answers readers' questions about the series.
NOVEL 1: Rosemary and Rue