The Brightest Fell
October Daye, Book #11
by Seanan McGuire
Author’s website: http://seananmcguire.com/index.php
Brought to you by OBS reviewer Omar
For once, everything in October “Toby” Daye’s life seems to be going right. There have been no murders or declarations of war for her to deal with, and apart from the looming specter of her Fetch planning her bachelorette party, she’s had no real problems for days. Maybe things are getting better.
Because suddenly Toby’s mother, Amandine the Liar, appears on her doorstep and demands that Toby find her missing sister, August. But August has been missing for over a hundred years and there are no leads to follow. And Toby really doesn’t owe her mother any favors.
Then Amandine starts taking hostages, and refusal ceases to be an option.
Angels are bright still, though the brightest fell
– William Shakespeare, Macbeth
Brightest Fell starts with the bachelorette party that Toby never wanted, but at end of it, she is happy to have all the people she considers friends with her, and to see her happy. Once Toby gets home and starts to believe that it was a great night, there is a knock at the door. May decides to go see who it is, so Toby and Tybalt can have their moment, but once she opens the door and greets the person, Toby doesn’t hear anything else. Toby and Tybalt know that something dangerous is at the door because it would be the only reason for May to stop talking. Toby goes to see the front door and she comes to face with her mother, Amandine. Amandine asks Toby for permission to come in and talk to her. Toby agrees and takes Amandine to the kitchen, where she tells Toby she wants to hire her. Amandine wants Toby to find her sister August, who has been missing for almost a hundred years.
Amandine insults Toby, and Toby decline to work for her mother. She tells Amandine that she will still find August just because it’s her sister, but not for Amandine. Amandine is not happy with that answer, and reminds Toby that in her permission Toby forgot to ask for the same rules to be applied to her and the people that lived at her house. Amandine casts a spell and the kitchen is covered with vines and thorns that binds everyone in the room; she tells Toby that she will have to take her own measurements and decides to kidnap Tybalt and Jazz in their animal form. Amandine tells Toby that she will give them back when Toby brings August back to her.
Doing what she knows best, she asks the Luidaeg for help. The Luidaeg tells Toby that she needs to find a person that knew August the best before she disappeared, her father, Simon. Toby asks Sylvester Torquill to let her wake up his brother, Simon, from the Elf-shot so he can help her find August and get her love ones back.
“‘She wants me to find my sister.’ There was long pause before the Luidaeg said, almost hesitantly, ‘She wants you to find August?’ ‘Unless I have another sister out there that I don’t know about.’ I paused. The urge to ask the Luidage whether I had another sister was almost overwhelming.”
Toby starts to learn that Amandine is not the mother she remembered. Time is running out, and the more time Amandine has Tybalt and Jazz, the more time she has to traumatize them. Now she needs to follow the scent of August while learning what type of person she was, and about the quest that she took that made her disappeared.
This story is like walking through the timeline of the previous books. In Brightest Fell, we meet again people the we never forgot from the previous books, but who we haven’t seen in a while. It’s like walking through time to find the missing pieces of a mystery that you didn’t know it was missing. But Faire is not kind, not even to its own kin. We see this, when someone wants something so bad that they do everything they can to get it, even if it means making an islet with the bones of children and innocent, just to call someplace home.
Like most of the books of the October Daye series, Brightest Fell has its own theme that the story is set around it. In this case, is the consequences of our choices. As we have seen before, everything and everyone who is part of Fairie has to pay for something that they want; we have seen that some are so foolish to not understand the value of what they can lose by believing what they want is equivalent to what they are given up. In this case, the book goes over the consequence of the choices that August made when she thought she knew better than her mother and aunts by taking a quest that she wasn’t capable of completing.
Over the course of the series, readers like myself, have wanted to see more of the interaction with Toby and her mother, Amandine. In this book we get that interaction, and is not the best thing for Toby. Before, I kept thinking of Amandine, as the mother who was crazy and simply stop loving Toby because she chooses Fae over Human, and they had to leave Toby’s father; but this only made me forget that Amandine is a Firstborn, a pureblood Fae. Maybe is the case, that we never saw the cold and slightly evil side of Amandine in the past books, that she shocked me with the actions and the way she presented herself in this book. She was a bitch. At the same time, it was hard to imagine how would August be like, mostly because of the how Toby and May are; but again, the reader forgets that August was born during a different time and grew up as a pureblood, and was thought to look down on those who aren’t pureblood.
“And the, between one heartbeat and the next, I found it. The scent of sweet campfire smoke, close enough to Simon’s candle smoke to be a kissing cousin, but distinct enough that there was no question of whether it belong to him. It was wrapped with a ribbon of rose. Not Amandines’s wild, woody roses: something small, cultivated, sweet, the sort of rose that would grow in a princess walled garden. August. “
I liked the different types of magic used and places that Toby went when looking for August. I don’t want to spoiler everything, but I liked Poppy and the connection to Simon and other characters of the series. Most of all, I liked how the story reminds the reader that every action is remembered, and by that rewarded or charged. It was quite sad where we left Poppy in the series, and I hope we get to see more of her in the upcoming books. Spoilers!!! Pixies.
At this point of the series, we just meet August. And for me as the reader, I’m not sure what to think of her. I can see that she might appear like a spoiled brat, but for that we can blame Amandine. I think that Simon influenced her in a better way. Some “human” studies believe that the up bring and an environment contribute to who the person is, and we see that in how different Toby is from August. Given the way that other characters describe Amandine, August, and Toby, I arrived to the idea that their bloodline is like a blank canvas that gets better with choices, events, and people that they meet.
The book comes with the short story Of Things Unknown, which features April O’Leary. Once you start reading this story, you realized that you didn’t know that you always wanted this story. I liked this story so much because of all its magic and April. Seeing the world from April perspective was a fresh breath and addition to the other short stories. I wish we could get more stories from her perspective and interaction with other characters.
“October opened her mouth to speak. Then she paused. ‘April,’ she said, in careful tone, ‘why is there blood on your hands?’”
– Of Things Unknown
At the end, I loved the Brightest Fell.
If you are a fan of Seanan McGuire or her work like the October Daye series, then I recommend you the Brightest Fell. In this book, mother comes back with a demand that if not accomplish, it will destroy the future that Toby is trying to build for herself, and it will take all her skills and blood to make it happen. Because when lost, you just need to ask if you can get there and back with candle light.