Short version of review: excellent book but don’t start here! It’s worth it to read this series from the beginning!
Longer version: I love Seanan McGuire. She has quickly become my favorite living writer and I feel very lucky that she is so prolific. I was first introduced to her work when her book Parasite , written as Mira Grant, was nominated for a Hugo Award. I loved it and quickly devoured the Newsflesh series before I realized that Mira Grant and Seanan McGuire were the same person.
I started reading her works under her own name, starting with Sparrow Hill Road, which is amazing, but I picked it because I was intimidated by her long running October Daye series. I had read some Urban Fantasy before, and I fondly remember Mercedes Lackey’s Diana Tregarde books, but my tastes run more to science fiction and then secondary world fantasy, so I was hesitant to dive into such a long series. I picked up the first book, Rosemary and Rue, when it was on sale as a kindle daily deal, and I found it disappointing compared to her other work. I reminded myself that it was her first published novel, so I cut it some slack. Then Incryptid was nominated for the Best Series Hugo in 2018 and I dove into that instead. I loved it! So I vowed to give Toby another chance. And I was so glad that I did! It is no one of my favorite series.
I was overjoyed when The publisher and NetGalley awarded me an eARC of A Killing Frost, book fourteen of this series. It is fantastic, but you should NOT dive into this unprepared. You need to read the previous volumes to really appreciate how much a master of her craft Ms. McGuire truly is.
As the author herself has commented more than once, writing a fulfilling well planned out series is a different challenge than just writing one good standalone book. Each book in the series has to be rewarding and stand alone, while building on what came before in a way that feels fair and giving clues and hints for the future. It is no small task, and there is a reason that Seanan McGuire has been on the Hugo ballot every year the Best Series Award has existed.
Based on A Killing Frost, I plan on nominating the October Daye series for Best Series Hugo once again and this time I bet it wins!