Review: An Artificial Night by Seanan McGuire


January 11, 2013 by Heidi

An Artificial Night by Seanan McGuire book coverTitle: An Artificial Night [Amazon|Goodreads]
Author: Seanan McGuire  [Website|Twitter|Facebook]
Standing: Book 3 in the October Daye series.
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Published: September 7th, 2010 by DAW
Format: Paperback; 368 pages
Source: Borrowed from my local library.
Spoilers!: This review contains minor spoilers for the previous books in the series.  Consider yourself warned!

An Artificial Night, Seanan McGuire’s third installment in the October Daye series is the strongest appearance of Toby yet, with a surprising plot that careens more toward the fantasy than the urban.  Drawing as ever from Celtic mythology, McGuire takes this opportunity to introduce us to the Wild Hunt–a nightmarish tradition among the fae that helps to remind us that fairy tales and their heroes are most real in the minds of children.

How many miles to Babylon?
Three-score and ten.
Can I get there by candle-light?
Yes, there and back again.
If your heels are nimble and light,
You will get there by candle-light.

Every century he Rides, replenishing his numbers with the children of Titania and Eve, half to be Rider, half to be Riden.  When two of her best friends’ children go missing, and a third falls into an enchanted sleep, Toby swears she will find them.  When Tybalt requests that she pay her debt to him by returning the five Cait Sidhe children who have disappeared, and Quentin shows up despondent on her doorstep after his human girlfriend goes missing, she becomes bent not only on rescue, but on revenge.  Utilizing the help of those who could destroy her, Toby sets off on a dark journey to play at children’s games and by children’s rules, all the while knowing that her Death is home waiting for her.

If I thought Toby’s character improved in A Local Habitation, that is nothing to her development in An Artificial Night.  At last October begins to acknowledge for herself what so many others have known–that she is a hero.  For the first time, we get to see Toby breaking out of her chains of duty and obligation, and really stepping up and taking action for herself.  She doesn’t set out to find and save these missing children because she really has to, she does it because it is right.

All the while, Toby is fighting against the label of hero and bounding after her own death.  She’s reluctant to admit that she’s been looking for it, but when her Fetch–a personal mirror image death omen–shows up at her door calling herself May Daye, Toby has to begin acknowledging that she has some issues.  It is possible that death omens can become self-fulfilling prophecies, but in Toby’s case it’s really no surprise.  We’ve seen her fall down near death so many times after only the first two books that I’ve really lost count.  While Toby doesn’t completely escape her usual bout of injuries in An Artificial Night, she is at least less dependent on others to constantly be saving her so that she might go out and be hurt some more.

The two previous books laid a lot of groundwork for Toby’s relationships among the fae, and they’re all here–the Luidaeg, Tybalt, Connor, Mitch and Stacey, Luna and Sylvester, Quentin–but for the first time none of these ancillary characters really matter.  An Artificial Night is all Toby.  Not only is she our only focus, this is the first plot that truly affects her beyond a job.  I loved that the story ended up being both more complicated and less complex than I expected.  At times it seemed too easy, but Toby never just let it go when she could have.  Still, I wish there had been more cleverness, trickery, or thought involved in Toby’s actions.  It almost felt as if too much had to happen in the allotted page length for us to really feel the strife of each of these situations.

Still, An Artificial Night is chilling in that way that reminds us of our childhood fears, which though not as realistic as our grown-up fears, are substantially more unsettling.  Toby is finally developing some real agency and taking responsibility for her own decisions and mistakes rather than hiding behind a guise of “the job”.  This story was darker, more epic, and a giant leap in the right direction–I very much hope Seanan McGuire keeps this trend going.

Likelihood that I’ll be back for more:  Yeah at this point I’m pretty much dying over the Tybalt situation.  What does he know about Toby that she doesn’t know about herself?!  It’s killing me!  And yeah, I suppose I might want them to make out a bit too, so there’s that.  I’ll be reading book four very soon.

Recommended for:  This installment is so completely different than the previous two.  If you’re still wavering on this series, I definitely suggest giving An Artificial Night a go.

Real life repercussions of reading this book:
Well this is almost too easy…

Get a second opinion:
Fantasy Cafe – “An Artificial Night is an entertaining read that kept me turning the pages. It’s dark and eerie with some delightful characters I’m looking forward to reading more about.”
Fangs for the Fantasy – “I think in this book we had the most powerful feeling of what it means to be fae –not just in the series but perhaps in Urban Fantasy in general.”
The Book Smugglers – “This series in one of my favourites and some of the threads in this instalment are still open and I can’t wait to see what happens next.”

I’ve also reviewed:
Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire (October Daye 1)
A Local Habitation by Seanan McGuire (October Daye 2)


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  1. Heidi, you’re KILLING ME! Seriously, I need to start this series ASAP! It sounds amazing and I love paranormal mysteries with fae, much like the Fever Series by Karen Marie Moning, so I definitely need to check this out. (Have you read The Fever Series, btw? You need to!) Anyway, awesome review, dear, and hopefully my library will have this when I go this weekend! *fingers crossed* :)

    • Heidi says:

      I have NOT read Fever, but we’re GOING to read each other’s fey UF series this year! At least these don’t have killer cliffies. I think you’d probably like it, but it’s so hard to judge since this one’s hit or miss among friends who like the genre–I just don’t know who’s going to like it!

  2. VeganYANerds says:

    I’ve read at least one of your previous reviews of this series (I remember liking October’s nickname ‘Toby’!) and I really would like to make 2013 the year I start reading some series like this, especially if there’s plenty of character growth and plot development going on even in the third book of the series!

    • Heidi says:

      I really got into UF series in 2012! I plan to read a lot more this year. They’re just FUN, and they’re good for when I want to kick back and enjoy a book without having to think a lot. I totally recommend giving them a shot!

  3. Ugh, I need to get off my butt and read these! I love her as Mira Grant, I’m sure I’ll love her as Seanan Maguire, too!

    I only skimmed this review since I haven’t read the first two yet, but it’s reassuring to know you are still enjoying the series.

    • Heidi says:

      Yes! I’m really blowing through this one pretty quickly for my standards (considering I never sit down and just read books back to back). I’m going to finish up October Daye and read the first InCryptid book, and then I’m going to go on to Mira Grant! :)

  4. […] 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 Daye 4) Through This House 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.