Review: A Local Habitation by Seanan McGuire


November 5, 2012 by Heidi

A Local Habitation by Seanan McGuireTitle: A Local Habitation [Amazon|Goodreads]
Author: Seanan McGuire  [Website|Twitter|Facebook]
Standing: Book 2 in the October Daye series
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Published: March 2nd, 2010 by DAW
Format: Paperback; 377 pages
Source: Borrowed from my local library.
Spoilers!: This review contains minor unavoidable spoilers for Book 1, Rosemary and Rue–consider yourself warned!

Friends!  I’ve finally done it, I’ve found another Urban Fantasy series I think I’m going to love.  There were concerns as I ventured past the world of Ilona Andrews.  I tried a couple of new starts, and came away disappointed and worried that all other UF had a lackluster sheen to it.  Toby Daye and I got off to an okay start, enough to make me interested in checking out A Local Habitation, and I’m so glad I did.  In book two of the October Daye series Seanan McGuire really finds her stride, and I’m happy to say she had me right there with her the whole way through.

The hero’s journey has suffered in modern years.  Once we could’ve gotten a knight in shining armor riding to the rescue, pennants flying.  These days you’re lucky to get a battered changeling and her underage, half-trained assistant, and the princesses are confused technological wizards in the towers of silicon and steel.  Standards aren’t what they used to be.

It’s been six months since the closing pages of Rosemary and Rue.  Toby Daye has renewed her P.I. license and is working once again.  Of course, her renewed connections with the fae world mean that when her liege calls, she answers, and this time Sylvester’s sending her to the County of Tamed Lightening to check on his niece, Countess January O’Leary.  What Toby finds is a strange fea-run tech company where employees have been dropping dead under mysterious circumstances.  She has to find the murderer and stop who or what it is from killing off the rest of the company one by one–Toby and her sidekick Quentin included.

Not only did Seanan McGuire hit her stride in A Local Habitation, this is also where Toby really finds her voice.  She needed to go through the harsh growth process allotted to her in Rosemary and Rue, but here Toby has accepted her place in fae society and gained a few more hard edges to get her by.  We finally see her P.I. skills and experience clicking into place, unfortunately for her (though fortunate for our personal entertainment), it’s in a situation where the natural talents she brings to the table as a Daoine Sidhe are useless.  We see how Toby’s number one priority is the safety of those around her, and how past failures continue to weigh heavily on her heart.  I’ll admit that it was a relief to see Toby put the past behind her in order to deal with the present in A Local Habitation.  She’s obviously very aware of her past–what happened with Luna and Raysel, her daughter, Dare–but they don’t drag her down the way they did in the previous installment.  I’m sure each of these things will continue to affect who she is as a character in major ways, but I’ll take a character who’s hardened over one who’s a blubbering mess any day.  That said, Toby is still very real and affected emotionally–not hardened beyond her humanity, just sharpened beyond the breaking point.

The supporting cast in A Local Habitation brings back some of my favorites from Rosemary and Rue and introduces a crew of interesting new species to the table.  Quentin, our proper pure blood ward gets an education as Toby’s newly appointed sidekick, and it’s easy to see why she has a soft spot for the kid.  There’s more Connor selkie goodness, and even better, more Tybalt.  I felt as if we barely saw Tybalt in Rosemary and Rue, but it was enough to give me a strong suspicion that I would love him.  Now, there’s no doubt that I do–and a Kate & Curran-esque ‘Here, kitty, kitty’ certainly doesn’t hurt matters either.  The wait for them to just make out already is kind of killing me, but I love a good slow burn, and I’m thrilled that Toby’s still more or less oblivious to the fact that she has it bad (I may be projecting my desires on her subconscious a bit here).  I also love to see the burgeoning friendship developing between two lonely souls, Toby and the Luidaeg.  I’m a sucker for old, wise, and crabby characters, and you can’t get much more of any of these things than you do with the Luidaeg.

Plus, there’s the plot of A Local Habitation, which I have to admit with no eloquence whatsoever, is flat out awesome.  If I felt as if it was somewhat predictable or reminiscent of one of my favorite episodes of Doctor Who (I’m not going to say which one, but you’re welcome to guess), it didn’t detract at all from my enjoyment.  Even if I had a vague idea of what was going on, that didn’t explain all of the intricacies to me, and I loved uncovering them as we went along.  For the life of me I don’t know how Toby resists strangling those she’s literally bleeding to help when they seem to hinder her at every turn.  But then, I suppose, that’s what a good pissed off Cait Sidhe is for.

Finally, can I just say that I am such a fan of Seanan McGuire’s covers?  Both October Day and her new InCryptid series get covers that accurately represent the characters therein.  Unfortunately, this is less common than you’d think.  A Local Habitation‘s cover is, to me, the spitting image of Toby complete with Dare’s knife and Tybalt’s jacket, and damn if it doesn’t look good on her.

A Local Habitation is an excellent take off to a promising series.  It celebrates a perfect balance between the modern technological world and the ancient world of mythology.  Add to that an ideal pace, a dash of biting humor, and plenty of action, and you’ve pretty much assured October Daye a place in my heart.

Likelihood that I’ll be back for more:  Without a doubt, after finishing A Local Habitation I went through Goodreads and added all of Seanan McGuire’s books to my TBR.  

Recommended for:  If you didn’t love Rosemary and Rue, I urge you to give A Local Habitation a go before calling it quits on Toby and crew.

Get a second opinion:
Fantasy Cafe – “It had great pacing, plenty of both dark and humorous moments, an intriguing look at Faerie and some memorable, three-dimensional characters (if a bit slow-on-the-uptake on occasion).”
Janicu’s Book Blog – “I love the heroine and the pacing of the story seems just right, although I wish there was a tad more romance”
The Booksmugglers – Ana ~ “If you can’t tell, I loved this book, I love this series. Seanan McGuire is now an autobuy and her main character Toby, is definitely one of my favourite UF heroines.” Thea ~ ” Another solid entry from the talented, imaginative Seanan McGuire. I cannot wait for Toby’s next adventure”

I’ve also reviewed:
Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire (October Daye 1)


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  1. Sarah says:

    I really, really need to give this series a whirl when I need an UF fix. It sounds like it has a lot of the qualities of the Mercy Thompson series (which I adore).

    • Heidi says:

      You do need to give it a go, Sarah! I’m really liking it. It’s hard to predict though–I have friends who love it, and others who never got into it at all. I’m interested to see if you end up enjoying it or not!

  2. Negine says:

    What an excellent review! You pretty much nail Toby in this sentence: “Toby is still very real and affected emotionally–not hardened beyond her humanity, just sharpened beyond the breaking point.” Love this…it’s beautifully stated!

    The consensus from other fans (and non fans!) has been that A Local Habitation is the weakest installment but I thought it was great. And I think it’s safe to say *crossing my fingers* that if you enjoyed this book then you’re in for a HUGE treat because they just get better and better :)

    Also, I love that you gave props to the covers! The design from the cover art to the chapter headings for this series have been consistently awesome and as you point out so accurately represent the character and story, so rare in Urban Fantasy!

    Finally, can you give me some hints as to which Doctor Who episode this book reminded you of? Are you talking of the most recent seasons with Matt Smith as the Doctor? Now I’m not a diehard fan or anything but have enjoyed watching a few episodes here and there with my husband, so I’m very curious 😉

    • Heidi says:

      Thanks, Negine!

      I’m hoping that the rest does just get better for me–I realize that’s the consensus, so I’m very much looking forward to putting that to the test! I should be picking up An Artificial Night from the library this week…assuming it can be delivered via ILL despite hurricane/current blizzard.

      Oh! And the Doctor Who episode this book reminded me of was actually a David Tennant/Catherine Tate episode–my favorite of theirs! 😀

  3. janicu says:

    There’s a lot of people who were iffy about this series who were more on board after this second book. Just something about A LOCAL HABITATION. Anyway, glad you’re getting into these books! I’m quite in love with them. :)

    • Heidi says:

      I’m happy to be on board! I’ve heard even more people say it was the third book that really got them, so now that I feel invested, I’m really looking forward to the series just getting stronger from here on out!

  4. Wow! I’ve never heard of this series before, but it sounds so good! Kate and Curran – esque romance? I’m in! I love those two to death, so I’ll be sure to pick this one up right after I fly through those books. Fantastic review, Heidi! I love how my TBR grows every time I visit your lovely blog! :)

    • Heidi says:

      I love how fast you’re flying through Kate Daniels, Keertana! You should give this one a try–I don’t know that it’s going to be quite as fantastic as Ilona Andrews, but really, can any UF be?

  5. Kristen says:

    Great review! I am so glad you enjoyed this one so much! This is where I started to get hooked on the series as well, and I’ve become a bigger fan with each installment. I can’t wait to see what you think of the rest of the books in the series!

    • Heidi says:

      Thanks, Kristen! I’m already really excited to pick up book three (hoping it makes it to my library though ILL this week–hard to say with huricane/blizzard), and I have serious expectations/hopes that it’s just going to get better and better!

  6. […] and Rue by Seanan McGuire (October Daye 1) A Local Habitation by Seanan McGuire (October Daye 2) An Artificial Night by Seanan McGuire (October Daye 3) Late Eclipses by Seanan McGuire (October […]

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While the source for each book I review is posted within its review, please assume unless otherwise stated that books reviewed on Bunbury in the Stacks were received free from the author or publisher in exchange for an honest review.