Book Review: One Salt Sea by Seanan McGuire

September 10, 2011 Books, Reading, Reviews 7 ★★★★★

There’s a point where I love a book so much that it becomes difficult to write a review. Instead of a thoughtful look at why I loved that book, I want to flail and squee incoherently about how awesome it is.

One Salt Sea is one of those books.

I’m a huge fan of Seanan McGuire’s October Daye series, and I think it’s hands-down the best urban fantasy series out right now. It’s funny and clever and exciting, and the characters are so rich and understandable, even the ones you’re not supposed to sympathize with. One Salt Sea, the fifth book in the series, is even better than its four predecessors, something that’s pretty rare in series. Usually things start to go downhill around book five, but McGuire keeps knocking them out of the park.

I’d like to say that I read One Salt Sea all in one sitting, and trust me, if I could have gotten away with it, I would have done so. Work forced me to pace myself, though, and so I got to savor it like a fine wine. And man, it is a delicious book.

The sons of the duchess of Saltmist, the oceanic duchy off the coast of San Francisco, have been kidnapped, and unless Toby can find them and quickly, Saltmist will go to war against The Kingdom of the Mists. As much as Toby dislikes the Queen of the Mists, she is willing to do anything to prevent the wholesale slaughter that will accompany a fae war. She’s thrust once again into an increasingly dangerous mystery and must race against the clock to save the two innocents and stop the war.

While I think the world that McGuire has created is fantastic (I think I’ve praised it in my past reviews), the best part of this series is the wonderful cast of characters. Toby herself is a great heroine; she’s a bit reluctant, a bit grumpy, a very large bit of a smart aleck, but she is also caring and loyal and determined to do what’s right even at the risk of her own life. And best of all, I really feel her motivations. Some authors can tell you that their characters are doing all of this to save the kids, but McGuire gets it across that Toby really cares about two children she’s never met. She understands how precious children are to the fae, and she sees the Saltmist boys as a parallel for her own changeling daughter. Everything that Toby does, I buy into completely.

The rest of the cast–May, Connor, Tybalt, the Luideag, and the others–all keep growing and revealing more and more of themselves, which is awesome. This series boasts a pretty large cast, but no one feels extraneous and no one is introduced only to be dropped later. The Luideag in particular grows a lot in this book. I’ve always found her fascinating (and a bit scary), but after reading One Salt Sea, I almost want a whole book of just her and her history.

As an unashamed Tybalt fangirl, I’m a little sad that he didn’t play as large a role in this book as I’d hoped, but then my hopes were probably unrealistic, heh. He, too, keeps growing and revealing more and more of himself to Toby, and oh man, I love that character.

I hope this review has been more than just incoherent squeeing, because I really want you to understand how absolutely amazing I think this book and this series are. If you’re an urban fantasy fan and haven’t read it yet, you need to.


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