Seanan McGuire is a writing monster — she’s pumping books out like crazy — she’s got the Toby Daye books, the InCryptid books, the Indexing serial, other short fiction — plus the stuff she puts out under the name Mira Grant. And they’re all really good (well, I assume the Grant ones are — not my taste — but based on reviews/awards, etc. they’re just as good). It’s really not fair. But I’m not complaining. As much as I’m enjoying Indexing and the InCryptid books are just plain fun, neither are in the same league as the Toby Daye books — and somehow, I forget just how good that series is between novels. I’ve been hooked since, maybe Chapter 3 of Rosemary and Rue and the addiction just grows each time.
Chimes starts off with Toby looking into the Goblin Fruit trade, seeing what she can do about it. It turns out that the situation is worse than she thought it was, and so she decides she needs to take it to the Queen. Which makes sense, unless you think about how well things go between those two, but Toby does her duty — and things go from bad to horrible (skipping right over “worse”) in a New York minute.
The series grows by a few new characters, most of whom I fully expect to see returning often, if not in every book from now on — all interesting, powerful, and I want to know more about. The stakes are higher than normal here, which is saying something, because they’re usually pretty high — and the long-term ramifications of the possible (and actual) plot developments are significant. You can feel the significance of the choices Toby’s making on almost every page, she’s pushed to new limits and deals with them in her own inimitable way.
A couple of highlights for me: I swear at one point at the end of Chapter 5, Toby channels Leverage‘s Nathan Ford, which was a lot of fun to read, and says a lot about the improbability of what Toby’s trying to pull off. Also, we’re introduced to a new Sidhe — the Cu Sidhe (the canine equivalent of Tybalt’s Cait Sidhe) — and it might be my favorite thing ever that Maguire’s created. Sure, I’m a sucker for well written dog characters, and the way she introduces and uses this particular character? Magic.
The only quibble I have here is how quickly things are resolved — to get the ending that we do, I’d expect another 70+ pages of action, maybe even another book before we get to the conclusion we have here. I don’t want to say that McGuire rushes or hurries through things here, because I see (I think) how and why she did what she did. It just seems to be that it’d have been better to spend more time on it. Then again, considering the tension I felt during the last 100 pages or so, maybe it’s better that things went they way they did.
McGuire calls this this start of the second stage of Toby’s adventures, and in retrospect, I can see an element of closure in Ashes of Honor. Based on the shake up in royalty, the deals Toby has to make to get things done and save those she cares about, and the revelations about one particular character — there’s plenty of fodder for a great second stage, even without whatever new ideas she has in store.
I cannot wait.