Review: Once Broken Faith by Seanan McGuire

once-broken-faith-by-seanan-mcguire

Once Broken Faith by Seanan McGuire (October Daye #10)

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Publisher: DAW on September 6, 2016

Source: Publisher

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My thanks to the publisher for providing me with a digital review copy. No compensation was provided for this review, and all opinions are my own.

Politics have never been October “Toby” Daye’s strong suit.

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 This review marks a very exciting first for me: I’m caught up wit a long-running urban fantasy series for the first time since I started blogging at Fine Print three years ago. Huzzah! I’m pleased that it’s with the October Daye series too, since it’s one of my favs – and no worries, my thoughts will be spoiler free for the whole series.

ONCE BROKEN FAITH marks an important turning point in both the life of Fae changeling October Daye and the series overall: she’s finally able to exert some political power. Throughout the series, Toby’s blood status as a changeling has pushed her to the margins of Fae society and has prevented her from being directly involved in Fae politics. Sure, she’s always been good enough to tackle the problems of the purebloods…but now she has a hand in deciding the future of pureblood society. Unsurprisingly, this change in Toby’s life means that ONCE BROKEN FAITH is a much more politically-driven novel than the previous installments in the series, but I didn’t mind sacrificing action for a longer glimpse into the political maneuverings of the Fae.

When Toby is called to give evidence in a hearing on elf-shot, the most dangerous weapon in Fae society, she knows it spells trouble. According to Oberon’s Law, it is an act punishable by death to kill a pureblood unless it’s in war; enter elf-shot, a poison that puts purebloods to sleep for one hundred years. That’s a serious consequence for even the long-lived purebloods, but elf-shot is deadly to changelings like Toby…changelings who are already at risk since Oberon’s Law only protects purebloods from being murdered. The status quo benefits purebloods, and there are those among them who will stop at nothing to ensure that Toby’s testimony doesn’t impact their use of elf-shot…

It’s not difficult to see the social commentary embedded in this plot arc. McGuire presents a justice system that is profoundly unjust, one that discriminates against marginalized peoples and adheres to the letter of the law rather than its spirit. Clearly there are many similarities between the real-world justice system(s) and that of the Fae, and while this is a timely issue McGuire is never heavy-handed in her portrayal. Given everything that Toby’s had to endure because of elf-shot and the fundamentally unjust Fae court system, this commentary makes perfect sense for the series AND has something to say about our own society. I found it profoundly satisfying to read about, especially since urban fantasy isn’t typically a politically-charged genre.

Aside from this plot line, ONCE BROKEN FAITH has all the hallmarks that I’ve come to expect from the October Daye series: fantastic character development, intricate plotting, and creative world building are all present here. Of particular note is Quentin, the teenaged pureblood Fae whose introduction to Toby was…less than stellar. Quentin has come a long way as a character, shedding a lot of his prejudice against other Fae races and changelings alike – he’s even a fan of humans now!

Add to all of this a continually queer-positive message and a number of central, happy queer relationships, and you’ve got all the characteristics I need in a favourite series. I’m sure you’re all tired of me gushing over these books, but I just can’t help myself – they’re that good!

What elements make a series a “must read” for you? Are the Toby Daye books among your must reads? Let me know in the comments!

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  • Lol, wohoo for finally being caught up 😀

  • I really regret not joining the readalong group for this series, because that could have been my chance to catch up. 10 books is very daunting though, but at the same time it seems I’ve heard nothing but good things about this series from book 4 onward.

    • Honestly, I’m kind of bummed that the read along didn’t happen earlier because I would’ve been totally down to participate. The questions are always really good! Yeah, 10 books *is* daunting, I totally get it. It’s tough to power through when you know the first couple aren’t the standouts of the series, too!

  • MaddalenaSpaceandSorcery

    What a coincidence! I just bought the e-version of this book and loaded it on my reader – ready to start 🙂
    I’m happy to learn that Toby’s journey is still going on strong, and delighted to see that the social commentary that was initiated in book 9 takes the front seat here.
    Now all I have to do is sit down, open the book and… start having fun.
    Thanks for sharing!

    • Haha, that *is* a coincidence! I’m very eager to hear your thoughts on this one – I remember reading your review of A Red-Rose Chain right before I read it myself, and feeling even more excited to read it afterwards!

      I hope you love this one too, Maddalena!

  • Congrats on being caught-up on a series!!! That’s always a fantastic feeling. I still need to give this series a shot. The first book is on my TBR pile somewhere.

    • Thanks Samantha! I’m feeling a combination of giddy relief and smugness, hahaha. It’s just one less series I need to catch up on.

      I hope you enjoy Rosemary and Rue if you end up reading it!

  • Congrats on Catching up, i have last books in series just sitting on my shelf’s right now, great review

    • Thanks Tori! Haha, I feel you. I’ve got about a dozen more unfinished series on my shelves that I need to see to…I’ll conquer them some day!

  • Lisa (@TenaciousReader)

    I haven’t tried this series yet, but have heard good things. Glad you managed to get caught up!

    • It’s definitely one of the strongest UF series out there, in my mind. Thanks Lisa! 🙂

  • This is a series that is on my someday list. I feel like I’ve heard mixed things about it – really good and really meh – but I trust your opinion so i think I’ll move it up the list a bit! Does it have a slow start?

    It’s insanely exciting to be caught up on a series but now you have to wait. for. the. next. book. sigh…. It’s hard to win in this reading game, ha ha! All right, all right, it’s pretty much all winning.

    • Yeah, you probably have! The first couple books definitely skew towards the ‘meh’ side of things when compared to the rest of the series, which is unfortunately pretty standard with urban fantasy series. I found Toby, the protagonist, kind of difficult to like in the first few books (she’s horribly depressed and unhappy – for good reason – but she uses that as an excuse to act petulant) but I am obsessed with this series now! The character development/growth is unbelievable!

      UGH I know! Especially since I read this as an ARC, so I’ve got even longer to wait for the next one. Oh yeah, everyone’s a winner in the reading game! 😀

  • I say this all the time, but I have got to read something by Seanan McGuire! The local library system doesn’t stock any of her books so I’m going to have to give in a buy something, I think. Any recommendations for a first book?

    • LORRAINE. Yes. I’ve been waiting for this my whole life! (Okay, not really, but you know).

      I’d recommend McGuire’s novella “Every Heart a Doorway” as a starting point, because it’s a shining example of everything that makes her work great. Unique and somewhat bizarre world building, lovable characters, queer representation, and beautiful writing. I absolutely adored it, and I cannot wait for the follow-up novella!

      • Glad to have helped you achieve a life goal ;D

        Right, I am definitely buying Every Heart a Doorway on my next pay day. Consider it done!