Review: A Local Habitation by Seanan McGuire

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4 out of 5 Local Stars

This is the 2nd book in the October Daye Series

I was not expecting this. The series is already a blend of anachronisms, I mean, it’s about a fae knight whose fealty lies with a fae lord under a knoll in Paso Nogales, and this time, it’s blending modern technology with ages old fairy racism and tradition. October Daye is the changeling knight of the local Ducal court at Shadowed Hills. There are many fae Duchies hiding amidst the mortal world – it’s a world we humans don’t see. And they want to keep it that way. When her liege lord, Sylvester Torquil, can’t reach his niece in the neighboring duchy of Tamed Lightening, he sends Toby to investigate. He can’t go himself, because the neighboring county of Dreamer’s Glass has a power hungry duchess who will see it as an act of aggression and lose her fairy shit.

October is a changeling, or half-fae, half human. In a world ruled by purebloods, this is not an easy thing. However, October has certain skills. Diplomacy isn’t one of them, but solving murders is. When she gets to Tamed Lightening, it takes awhile, but she finds a body. Before that, things are just… hinky.

First, January, Sylvester’s niece, is incredibly suspicious. She doesn’t know Toby other than by name, but it’s more than just your typical Sidhe racism against changelings. Tamed Lightening is a pretty hip place, driven by the tech industry, and so more in touch with the mortal world and progressive. But for all that, there is still this weird vibe in the place. January says it’s Sylvester who stopped calling and she doesn’t trust this person whose shown up out of nowhere claiming to be his knight. There’s also a super cool hip surfer dude of vague fae race who Toby can’t quite place. He’s super hot and puts Quentin’s back up. Something about him just rubs her squire every way wrong. And for whatever reason, their faerie tech isn’t working to reach the outside world. Calls to Shadowed Hills don’t go through. But it’s more than that. Toby finds out there’s been more than one body, to begin with, and they aren’t normal. Also, they are piled up in the basement like firewood. I mean this is some fishy shit!

Toby’s magic, such as it is, is all about blood magic, and there’s nothing left in these dead bodies to read. Whatever happened to these people should still be there, in their blood, but it’s not. They’re like a hard drive that’s been wiped clean. They all have the same wounds and quiet blood.

My favorite thing about these books is the squad goals.  Toby has drawn in her first layer of family – Quentin, a young Daone Sidhe fostered at Shadowed Hills is with her, learning the topes of fae-dom. Tybalt, Kind of Cats, hangs out a lot now. And of course, when we get to Tamed Lightening, the folks there are another kind of family. The different types of fairy are just fun. The seneschal of the knowe is a Bannick, Elliot, who can magically clean you up, even mending your clothes. Helpful if your job finds you covered in blood half the time. There is also a selkie, a Cornish Pixie, a half Colbyanu (metalworker) and Alex and his sister Terrie – a mysterious pair that Toby can’t quite get a grip on. Mostly because Alex is a hottie that keeps her from thinking straight and Terrie is busy flirting with Quentin, which irritates Toby a little more than it should. Oh, and an electronic dryad who reminds me of the weird little girl from Resident Evil. As a matter of fact, I have a feeling she was a direct influence on this character.

This feels like a locked door mystery. I was reminded of those Agatha Christie novels where Miss Marple is trapped in a mansion with a wealthy family,  sitting at a table eating dinner, watching and judging them and fully aware that someone, possibly everyone, is lying. But which lies are relevant to the stream of murders, and which are just folly and misdirection? This was a fun one.

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