PROS: The characters were comfortably familiar, the story had plenty of emotional moments, and some long-held romantic feelings get acted on.
CONS: A very minor one – the main character, Toby, was supposed to be acting crazier than usual in this novel, and with good reason, but it wasn’t obvious that her actions were more than the slightly-broken outcast changeling rebellions she always did.
BOTTOM LINE: If you liked any of the other books in the series, you’ll want to pick this one up right away.
While you could pick up Ashes of Honor if you hadn’t read the first five books in the series, I don’t recommend it. Not only are the other books excellent, but this one in particular deals with plot points based in earlier stories, and won’t have the same impact on a new reader.
In her latest adventure, half-human half-faerie private investigator Toby Daye is asked to find a missing changing child. Who’s asking, and why no one knew about an entire teenager before now, are part of what makes this mystery more trouble than usual. Toby can’t give away someone else’s secrets, and she can’t let the kid stay missing – the changeling’s magic is untempered by pure faerie blood, and either she comes back, or the world falls apart.
On top of that, Toby keeps ending up in lands that were supposed to be sealed off by Oberon, can’t get a break long enough to eat a decent meal, and has a disturbing tendency toward flesh wounds. Well, even more than usual. It’s not every book that Toby has to hold her own intestines in while she waits for her healing power to kick on. And did I mention the romance? In between the bleeding and uncovering political schemes and, oh yeah, an assassination attempt, someone gets seriously kissed.
At this point in the series McGuire knows exactly who Toby is, and tells her story with energy and charm. The only pitfall may be that since McGuire and her fans knows these characters so intimately, there are a few places where something gets said that wasn’t actually made clear before. We’re just supposed to see the difference between one thing and the other and know exactly why that matters. If you can take it on faith that at least the characters know what’s been happening, you’ll be fine.
In the end, there’s little to distract from the madcap bloody excitement of it all. Swearing! Running! Sexy times! Leather jackets and folklore and secret offspring and tales of lost love. It’s all so much fun. Mcguire clearly enjoys sharing Daye’s story with us, and wants her fans to enjoy themselves too. With each book we get to the a different piece of the characters, and get hints as to what’s coming up (Quentin’s parents, for example, are becoming more obvious by the minute). We also get introduced to new characters I’ve no doubt we’ll be seeing again.
These books are like watching half a season of your favorite television series all at once. Because the author’s conversational writing style doesn’t make you work too hard to get into the novel, you can easily sit down at the start of an evening and get to the end before bedtime. More than anything else, though, it’s the fun of it all that’s kept me returning to McGuire’s books, and to this series, long after I’ve stopped reading other mainstream titles. Right now, she’s is the only urban fantasy writer who’s books I will pick up as soon as they’re available, and Ashes of Honor proves that I’m right to keeping doing it.