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An Artificial Night (October Daye, Book 3) by Seanan McGuire
Cover Artist: Chris McGrath
Review by Drew Bittner
DAW Mass Market Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780756406264
Date: 07 September 2010 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

After fourteen years spent prisoner of an enchantment, private eye and changeling October "Toby" Daye is once again working the bad streets of San Francisco. With her own life a wreck, she won't allow others to suffer--and when kids start to disappear, Toby takes this case very personally.

With a night of rounding up baby monsters and attending the birthday party of a couple's young son behind her, Toby had hoped to sleep the day away...until a phone call at 5am gets her day started way too early. But what's worse is still to come; on arriving home from an unsatisfying breakfast appointment, Toby learns that her friends' youngest son and youngest daughter are both missing, and another daughter cannot be woken.

It turns out other children--pure-blooded faeries, changelings (half fae and half human) and even one human girl--are missing as well. Toby's lieges, Duke Sylvester and his emotionally scarred wife Luna, have a pretty good idea what's happened and it isn't good. It seems that a Firstborn, an immortal being who predates even the faerie races, is stealing children to serve in his Hunt. If nothing is done, the children will be lost forever.

It's up to Toby to find the kids and get them back. The only problem is, Toby's Fetch--a spirit heralding her own impending death--has just shown up and told Toby that time is running out.

Thing is, Toby hasn't asked herself a very important question: why is a Hunt being called, and who exactly is supposed to be hunted?

Seanan McGuire's third October Daye novel crackles with crisp storytelling, engaging characters and a complex problem well suited to its detective lead. Toby is a knight of the faerie court, but she admits she is not a fighter; her skills lie in figuring out the problem, not battling the bad guy. Even so, she finds herself in combat for her life more often than she'd like.

She is also burdened with being a woman out of time. Having lost nearly a decade and a half, she's lost people precious to her, which informs a great deal of her character. She's been through bad times and has earned a rueful approach to life; kudos to McGuire for some great characterization.

Toby's romantic foil is Tybalt, the local King of Cats, who has a stake in this crisis as well: his own subjects' children have gone missing, and he needs to find them lest he be thought incapable and thus weak. He's an ongoing, roguish presence who might have been a generic romantic partner for the protagonist, were he any less charming and, well, feline in how he approaches life.

Toby has to call on a favor she's owed by another Firstborn, the Luidaeg, who has the necessary knowledge of how to stop her sibling. The Luidaeg is a fun character, cranky and impatient with modern life, yet with a compassionate streak well hidden beneath her crusty exterior. She plays for keeps--her "favor" to Toby is all that keeps her from claiming Toby's life--but she recognizes a crisis when she sees it...and the disappearance of so many little ones is a crisis.

An Artificial Night is a terrific entry in the series, showcasing McGuire's impressive skills with character and plot alike. She is quickly establishing herself as one of the major new talents in urban fantasy and horror.

Recommended.

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