Over the past decade, Seanan McGuire’s October Daye series has become an urban fantasy staple—and with good reason. These are rich, fascinating books, filled to the brim with interesting characters and beautifully realized worlds. McGuire breathes new life into well-worn faerie tropes, creating what has become an unmissable cornerstone of modern urban fantasy.
Half-human former private investigator/magnet for fae troublemakers October Daye (Toby if you please) is the main viewpoint character, and in honor of the release of the 10th novel, Once Broken Faith, we bring you a list of seven fascinating facts about her and the world she inhabits. If you’ve yet to start reading her story, consider these your marching orders..
1. To Err Is Human: October Daye is a fae, one of the immortal kin of Oberon and Titania. She’s also part human. She’s considered a Changeling, which is both an asset and a curse. Raised in the Summerlands (the last true fae realm) and now living in our reality, she has her feet in two worlds, but doesn’t belong fully in either. She also spent a significant number of years as a simple-minded fish, but the less said about that, the better.
2. Day Job: Toby was a private eye in San Fransisco, chasing down fae and humans alike. After a job gone wrong, she abandons her PI license, but not her street smarts. With little regard for her own life, she flings herself headfirst into danger, rescuing as many people as she can. The only person she’s truly unable to save is herself. While her background gives her a purpose, it also brings her hardships.
3. The Bard Approves: Each title in the October Daye series has it’s roots in a work by Shakespeare. Rosemary and Rue, for example, is from A Winter’s Tale. The third book, An Artificial Night, takes its name from Romeo and Juliet. As a whole, the series draws from the faerie the bard imagined in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. (Mentions of Oberon and Titania themselves pop up frequently.)
4. Crazy In Love: Toby has had ups and downs in her love life. The first novel finds her adrift after her husband and daughter have moved on, thinking her gone forever due to regrettable circumstances that left her trapped in the body and mind of a koi fish for 14 years and two days. After that, love was the last thing on Toby’s mind. But is urban fantasy, where even the most hardboiled, miserable protagonists have a shot at love. Tybalt, her current beau, is the king of cats in San Francisco. The Cait Sidhe, as they are called, are an aloof, cold-hearted people. Like the very best UF couples, Toby and Tybalt start out hating each other, and part of the fun is watching them start to hate each other…slightly less. Tybalt is a snarky fan favorite, and we’re in for a good time whenever he slides out of the shadows. He even gets his own short stories, providing amazing, uncensored glimpses into his mind.
5. That’s So Fetch: Tobey has a “twin” sister of sorts, named May Daye. Finding out how she came to be is one of the coolest twists of the series to date. Keep an eye out for her. Trust me.
6. Visit Beautiful Faerie: The best parts of this series, aside from the litany of awesome characters, is the setting. McGuire has created fantastical realms, and you’ll dream of exploring every inch of them. There are four different types of Faerie lands (Land, Sea, Air, and Fire), each with its own unique peoples and cultures. The Summerlands are the only true part of Faerie any fae can access. (Oberon and Titania locked the rest away when they went MIA.) The San Fransisco Bay Area is known to the fae as The Kingdom of the Mists. Other fae strongholds include the Duchy of Saltmist (the waters off the coast of California) and the High Seat of the Northlands (Toronto, Canada). Many counties and fiefdoms mentioned are actually San Francisco landmarks, such as the County of Goldengreen (the San Francisco Art Museum).
7. What’s In A Name?: There are ten books in the series, plus a handful of short stories, by which point you’ll be well and truly in love with Ms. McGuire’s writing. Lovely—now you can read her other urban fantasy series, the resoundingly funny, semi-satirical InCryptid novels, which intentionally dial every UF trope to 11. Still want more? Check out the books from the author’s alter ego, Mira Grant. The Newsflesh series combines zombies, blogging, and politics into a tense, heady mix. Whether you’re reading Seanan or Mira, you’re in for a good time.
The October Daye books are wildly imaginative, tense, and wonderful. With ten full-length novels and multiple short stories to feast upon, it will satisfy your hunger for urban fantasy for some time. Don’t ignore the call—they are way more than simple faerie tales.