Author: Seanan McGuire
Released: September 5th, 2017
The Brightest Fell is the eleventh novel in the October Daye series, and at this point, we’re all amazed that Toby hasn’t found a way to kill herself yet. Not that we’re complaining! It’s just that Toby seems to have a particular talent for getting herself into some of the most intense messes possible.
Toby’s life has been pretty good lately, which means that things are about to come crumbling down around her head. Amandine has never been what you and I would call a good mother, but her true colors shine through when she kidnaps Jazz and Tybalt in order to force Toby to do her bidding. Now Toby must find her missing sister – gone over a hundred years – and do so before her friend and lover take on even more damage.
This novel may very well be the emotional peak in the series, at least so far. It’s going to push Toby to her limits, all while taking away everything and everyone she loves while trying desperately to get them back.
Along with having a full and intense novel in itself, there’s also a novella included at the end of this one. It’s called Of Things Unknown and brings us back to April O’Leary and her neck of the woods. Here we see her still coping with the loss of her mother, all while trying to find a solution to the problem she feels responsible for.
“Some wounds never really heal. They just scab over enough to let you keep on going.” (Seanan McGuire, The Brightest Fell).
The Brightest Fell is without a doubt the most emotional novel in the series to date. Here Toby starts off thinking her life is finally going right. That she’s gotten it back on track. Only to have it wrenched away by the woman who birthed her. Proving that family is what you make it.
I think we all knew that someday Toby was going to end up on the quest to find out what happened to August – her missing sister. Toby’s too curious of a person to ever leave that information sitting around for too long.
But I don’t think any of us expected to see Toby’s hand forced in such a cruel and heartless manner. I know we never expected to see her friends put in danger for the sake of it. I think this was the moment that I realized that Amandine would never be the mother Toby deserved. And now it’s unlikely that the chasm between these two will ever be bridged. And that might be for the best.
This novel takes us on a journey in an odd mirroring to Toby’s previous quests. It would appear that once again, things are coming full circle. Not in ways we’d expect, but in ways that fully wrap up the story’s loose ends.
I’m not going to pretend that I didn’t read this novel in one sitting. I absolutely devoured this book. After what happened to Conner, I was completely terrified to see what would happen to Tybalt (and Jazz too, of course). I know that Seanan McGuire won’t automatically pull the punch. And I respect that about her. But boy, did that knowledge make for an intense read. I know I can’t be the only one that felt that way while reading as well.
The conclusion was heartbreaking in a lot of ways. But it was also freeing. I think Toby needed to know where she stood with her mother. And now she does. The real question is, will her mother leave it be? And what does August make of this whole situation?
I’m more glad than ever that I can go right on to the next novel, Night and Silence. I desperately need to see how our characters are handling things, especially given what has been happening to the lately. I won’t hope for a break – that’s asking too much – but I will hope for a slightly easier time on them.
Of Things Unknown was an interesting inclusion at the end of this novel. It doesn’t directly tie in with what Toby had been dealing with in this story. But it does finally reveal what Li Qin had been hinting at for several novels now.
There are two reasons why I think this novella got included here. For one thing, I think it fits chronologically. For another, I think, in a way, we needed to see this uplifting novella. I think we needed to see another win, even if it was tangential to the main plot. Frankly, I’ll take it. And hope it’s a good sign.
It was really interesting seeing the world through April’s eyes. She’s totally unlike any character I’ve ever read about, and even in this world she’s totally unique. There is nobody out there like there, and I’m not just saying that as a form of flattery.
So seeing how she thinks and processes was fascinating. She doesn’t experience emotions in the same way. Nor does she process data the same way. But that’s what makes her so special.
I’m glad this novella was included. It makes for one less piece of this world that I have to track down later. Because believe me, I’m determined to read every story available.