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Guest Post: Four Stars Ashes of Honor by Seanan McGuire

Someone seems to be writing a lot of guest posts huh? Almost like he likes to read books or something weird like that…. Please welcome my (frequent) guest poster Stochastic! And after reading this review, Ashes of Honor got added to my to-read list, oof! Also this is a book in a series so there are spoilers for the earlier books.

Stochastic: McGuire’s October Daye novels have had me hooked since book one. McGuire is the kind of writer who builds long-term storylines spanning multiple novels — and sometimes, just when you think her characters are cornered with no way out but deus ex machina, they’ll escape with a desperate gambit whose setup was established two or three novels ago. You can gauge an author’s skill by just how tightly they can paint their protagonists into corners, while still leaving unexpected and often totally insane escapes, and by this measure, Seanan McGuire is a fantastic author. The October Daye novels are gritty and brutal, and you’ll have little possibility of closing these books for the night and getting any sleep. I’ve been waiting on tenterhooks for the release of her sixth novel in the series, Ashes of Honor, and having just bought and blazed through the book overnight, I am neither rested nor disappointed.
Ashes of Honor by Seanan McGuire
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Ashes of Honor: An October Daye Novel
Author: Seanan McGuire
Pages: 358
Genre-ish: urban fantasy/mystery
Rating: ★★★– witty and compelling, missing secondary characters of awesome
Setting:  California Bay Area, and realms of Faerie hidden therein
Premise:  Fellow Knight Etienne, full-blooded Fae, needs Toby’s help: he has just learned that he has a daughter, Chelsea, born of a love affair sixteen years ago with a human. And Chelsea has vanished, and may have been kidnapped. Worse, she is that rare Changeling of whom the most terrifying histories are written: she has tremendous power but no control, and unable to control when and where she teleports, she has begun to punch holes in the fabric of Faerie reality.


  •   McGuire does a good job of making the reader laugh between moments of tension, with a dry wit and snappy dialog.
  •  There are engaging subplots and long-term superplots, and McGuire has a knack for concealing plot elements she plans to use in a future novel. In Ashes of Honor, for example, a love affair reaches fruition that has been in development for five previous novels.
  • Consistent and interesting long-term character development. McGuire doesn’t let the characters fall by the wayside.Even those who die will, through their deaths, continue to play a role in future novels.

Weaknesses (I’m having a hard time thinking of any):

  •  There’s no sex. I’m reaching here: the lack of obligatory sex scenes is refreshing, so this might be considered a strength. But from the point of view of marketing, this is a weakness.
  • Instead there are mushy, tender moments to which your inner pre-teen may say “ick, gross, kissing!”
  •  Although certain characters of long-term importance are mentioned, their appearances are brief. I think McGuire is keeping these characters around so they can be used in future novels.

Some of October Daye’s successes have cost more than failure. She has faced down legends and myths, and along the way has lost allies, friends, lovers, a daughter, and years of life. She spent a long time as a fish. Her twin sister is a death omen. The King of Cats appears to be at her beck and call. One of her cats is a rosebush. Toby is an interesting character.

In Ashes of Honor, one of the things the reader can enjoy is the way that McGuire matures her protagonist. Where Toby was once a reluctant hero, she now embraces her role and its responsibilities. She acknowledges the destructive streak she’s developed, resulting from her string of personal tragedies. She also acknowledges its effect on those closest to her. She also admits that she’s been in love for a long time.

This means that the main characters are primed for something interesting in the next novel. As waiting for the next novel will cause me a certain amount of mental anguish, I’m trying but failing to not speculate. In other words, I’m really looking forward to the next novel. In the meantime I’m going to reread the whole series to date.

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Ashes of Honor by Seanan McGuire

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