Review: Ashes of Honor by Seanan McGuire

ashes of honor

4 out of 5 Transporting Stars

This is book 6 of the Toby Daye series

“I do so love how all magic comes with its share of dire warnings and unclear requirements,” sighed Tybalt. “It’s like being on the stage, only there’s no director, and the understudies have all died of typhus.”
Tybalt.

Faery is dangerous for kids, that is what this series has let us know. Even more so if you have no idea how your power works or that using it can rip open holes in reality, leading to places no one should be able to reach. That’s the reality Chelsea is faced with when she suddenly disappears while walking to school with her friends. Disappearing is usually no big deal for her, she’s been practicing her little bits of magic for awhile, but to not be able to stop disappearing…. That’s a problem.

And who gets to solve all of Faerie’s impossible problems? That’s right. Toby! Chelsea is the surprise daughter of Etienne, another of Sylvester’s knights. No one is more surprised than he is to discover he created a changeling. Worse, a changeling whose mother is a teacher of folklore and knows the nature of faery! So not only does this threaten faery exposure to the rest of the world (consider: a hysterical mother who thinks her fae lover has kidnapped his kid attacking two emissaries just trying to help find said missing kid with a cast iron skillet. Laughs for days). Chelsea’s powers seem to be limitless, and she’s tearing holes all the way down to the foundation of faery itself. This endangers reality and the Summerlands. On top of that, someone else is looking for her, too. Dangerous someones. Sadly, powerful children are often of use to fae with no morals.

If this series has a fault, I mean if you really wanna nit pick, it employs the ‘death solves the love triangle problem’ trope. In the last book, Toby’s lover Connor was elf shot in the heart. Enter our Shakesperean quoting Cait Sidhe from stage left. Tybalt has been circling in the wings all the while. Clearly Toby and Tybalt are drawn to each other. It’s the hate-to-love trope, which I am here for with my industrial sized popcorn tub. I guess death also wanted to pull up a seat. But beyond the simmering sexual tensions, there is drama in cat land. Raj, Tybalt’s nephew and heir, was between Chelsea and a way out and he got caught up in a portal escape. When Tybalt brings in Toby to help (considering she’s trying to find Chelsea anyway) Raj’s dad, Samson, gets up on his high kitty perch and starts talking crap about Tybalt bringing in his whore from the divided courts. That didn’t go over well. Misogynist slurs aside, let’s talk about how amazing the court of Cats is. It’s an interconnecting series of spaces made up of all the lost places. So one room can be a derelict house in an old mansion, the next a crumbling cathedral. It’s just cool.

The whole book was cool. I love how the series goes back and forth between problems related to a person and then problems related to faery. Sometimes, series that constantly threaten the end of the world as we know it cause war fatigue – but McGuire managed to mix the threat levels just so – and even when faery as a whole is threatened, it comes down to individuals and their problems that matter.

Regarding the diversity quotient in this series – it takes place in San Francisco – we’re a very diverse place. I believe Dare and Manuel (their half human side) are Latinx,  Luna, the Duchess of Shadowed Hills is Kitsune, which is an Asian fox-fae, and Lily of the Japanese Tea Gardens is from Japan. There are also raven maids, who are Indian. There is a Chinese fae who can alter luck. Anyway. This series does have pretty good representation throughout. Also – lots of gay rep through the whole series, including a trans character in later books.

UPDATE: Sadly, Seanan McGuire has received some bad news. One of her beloved kitties, Alice, has been diagnosed with cancer. There is hope, but she is in a bad way and the vet bills are piling up. A few months ago, Thomas, her other Maine Coon had an intestinal blockage. So she could really use some help and support. Please buy her books, promote and review her books or, if you’re a big fan and would like to support her financially, she has a Patreon at: Seanan’s Patreon . This is a really hard time for her, and she asked that we don’t ask her what is going on – if you want to know, please check out her twitter page and she will update when and as she is emotionally able to do so.  You can follow her here @seananmcguire

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