I am currently reading my way through a long list of science fiction and fantasy titles. (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists if you are interested in the list).
Hundreds of years ago, the Selkies made a deal with the sea witch: they would have the sea for as long as she allowed it, and when the time came, she would call in all their debts at once. Many people assumed that day would never come. Those people were wrong.
When the Luidaeg—October "Toby" Daye's oldest and most dangerous ally—tells her the time has come for the Selkies to fulfill their side of the bargain, and that Toby must be a part of the process, Toby can't refuse. Literally. The Selkies aren't the only ones in debt to the Luidaeg, and Toby has to pay what she owes like anyone else. They will travel to the fabled Duchy of Ships and call a convocation of the Selkies, telling them to come and meet the Luidaeg's price...or face the consequences.
Of course, nothing is that simple. When Dianda Lorden's brother appears to arrest Dianda for treason against the Undersea, when a Selkie woman is stripped of her skin and then murdered, when everything is falling apart, that's when Toby will have to answer the real question of the hour.
Is she going to sink? Or is she going to swim?
I can’t tell you how much I enjoy spending time in October Daye’s world--the land of Faerie right adjacent to our own world. Where Hobs, Pixies, and Brownies (among many others) inhabit the land and Mermaids, Selkies, and octopus-headed Cephali live undersea in the Kingdom of Saltmist. I keep meaning to find some books on fairy folklore to brush up on my fae identification skills.
This book features the Luidaeg (the Sea Witch) prominently. As one of the First Born of Faerie, she has awesome powers and anyone with any sense is scared witless of her. Except for our dear Toby, who has seen through the Luidaeg’s thorny disguise to the caring person on the inside. Controlled by a geas laid on her by one of her sisters, the Luidaeg is compelled to only tell the truth and to help those who request assistance, although she is allowed to charge high prices for that help.
This is the point where shit gets real if you are a Selkie--the Sea Witch is calling in their chips and calling on Toby to seal the deal. Toby has a soft spot for the Selkies--her first fiance was Connor, a Selkie. Selkies also straddle the line between humanity and the Fae, just as Changelings do, so Toby can relate to that too. The trick is to find a way to both let the Luidaeg keep her word and to let her be merciful.
Seanan McGuire’s inventiveness never fails to please me. I am so glad that the next book is set up in the plot of this one. Forget Finding Nemo, we’re going to be Finding Simon.
If I have any frustration with this series, its the constant irritation of October’s estranged daughter, Gillian. October has been rejected by her, her father & step-mother (who, curiously is also October’s grandmother) for reasons that seem spurious to me. Toby has saved her repeatedly and gets zero credit for it. I’m not sure where McGuire is headed with this particular plot line, but I’m sure it’s not random. OMG, I’m like a soap-opera fan, I must tune in to the next installment to see what happens.
Please keep writing, Ms. McGuire! I will keep reading.