This is a decent urban fantasy novel, but it's almost unlistenable due to the inept, amateurish narration. It's so distracting when the reader places the emphasis on random weird words in almost every sentence or adopts a tone that clashes with what's actually going on in the book. And in this case, she's also got an awe-shucks, Midwestern voice that doesn't match the tough, worldly character.
Publishers: an incompetent or incompatible narrator is worse than no audiobook at all, so if you're going to go to all the trouble to record an audiobook, pick someone who knows what they're doing! Good readers for this genre include Marguerite Gavin, Jessica Almasy, Johanna Parker, Mia Barron, and others. But how hard can it be, really, to find an actor who can at least read English sentences in a fluent, comfortable manner?
I bought this one after reading and loving the Incryptid books, thinking I'd get more of the same, but was mostly disappointed.
Our heroine spends most of the book being injured and/or defeated, and seems unable to accomplish much on her own. I kept expecting October to somehow pull herself together and surprise her various attackers, but no, she just kept getting her ass kicked again and again and again and again and...
The ending was the same, and that made it the most disappointing part. There were some interesting side characters and relationships, but they were just too many, and I found myself constantly getting them mixed up.
The reader barely pronounced consonants, and sometimes her voice trails off at the second half of a word, which made it hard to hear whenever there was a little background noise.
If you want humour and a strong female protagonist, don't pick this book.
I absolutely adore this book and all of the books in the October Daye series. The protagonist is tough, smart, a little bitchy, and tenacious. The secondary characters are completely enchanting and the plots, while often centering around a "normal" mystery like kidnapping or murder, are always incredibly inventive and full of twists and turns. So it is with GREAT sadness that I listened all the way through this book only to be more and more disgusted with the narrator. I can't believe she was allowed to read ALL of these books after this performance.
She spoke with none of Toby's bite or sass, and the over-accented voice she put on to speak as other characters was oftentimes horrifying. (Tybalt was the worst offender, but none of the characters were given a good "voice.") It was read INCREDIBLY slowly and legitimately sounded like the narrator had no idea what she was talking about - like she hadn't understood the story or characters at all, and maybe thought they were all a little stupid. It was a super disappointing listening experience.
No. Read the book and hear the characters in your head - they are so much sharper, funnier, colder, and more lovely than this terrible narrator gives them credit for.
The story was pretty good, but the narrator is quite limited with her character variations. Has she ever even heard a Hispanic accent before? Otherwise, the story has me intrigued enough to download the next one in the series.
Set in the modern-day San Francisco Bay area, October ‘Toby’ Daye is a PI who investigates the normal, but also the supernatural. Being half-fae herself, she has quite a few tricks up her sleeves when it comes to detecting the truth. Toby Daye is also a mother and a fiancé. But then a case goes tits up and Toby is turned into a fish in Lily’s garden for the next 12 or 14 years. Afterward, she doesn’t want to live a fae life and she’s doing her best to cut all her fae connections away. The death of a friend pulls her back into the world with a binding curse.
Toby is awesome, for a lot of reasons. She has this whole backstory that we only get pieces of in this book and that past definitely affects the choices she makes. She isn’t perfect and sometimes she willingly lies to herself in an attempt to capture a few moments of happiness. She’s flawed and interesting, courageous and humble, clever and distrusting. All this makes her a great lead character.
When Countess Evening Winterose is murdered, a curse is set upon Toby to find her killer. She also has to keep an unusual and powerful item safe. In attempting to do both these things without being killed herself, she has to reconnect with her old fae life. She once swore fealty to the Duke of Shadowed Hills, who has tried to welcome her back since her fishy experience ended, only to be politely rebuffed by Toby. Then there is her old flame Devin of Home, who has a variety of unwanted half fae kids hanging around running odd jobs for him. Tybalt of the Court of Cats has stayed in her life, whether she likes it our not. Lily only has sway in her garden but has made it clear Toby is always welcome there. With this curse upon her, Toby must reconnect with all these fae characters and more to solve the case.
Toby isn’t the only one with an interesting past. The Duke’s wife and daughter also underwent an ordeal about the same time Toby was gone. It obviously changed them but we only find out enough to entice us to learn more. I loved Luna’s rose garden because it’s beautiful and a bit eerie. I love the amount of mythology pulled into the tale. It’s a great mix of the San Francisco that exists today and these bits of mythology. The story has a solid murder mystery feel to it also, taking itself seriously. There is definitely a price to be paid to find the answers Toby seeks. The story has a great mix of fae magic and detective seriousness. I’m looking forward to reading Book 2.
The Narration: Mary Robinette Kowal did a pretty good job, and was spot on for Toby herself. She had distinct voices for all the characters, though her Spanish accent was a bit forced. It became smoother as the story went on. I loved her gruff voice for the taxi driver and Tybalt’s pissed off voice.
I liked the story. There is good world building and a slight change in the way we may have seen the fae world in other novelst. The author gradually brings the reader up to speed in an unforced way; the explanations come about when they are needed within the storyline. That marks an experienced author, and for me that keeps me reading (listening). The biggest hurdle for me was the narrator. She does a decent job with the main character, and even a very few other characters, but some of the voices are so annoying, I found myself cringing (what's with the 80's overdone Valley Girl accent?) Also, the narrator exhibits a stilted reading throughout the first half of the book. I tried to listen at 1.25 speed to see if it would be more enjoyable, but it just sounded like the mike was closer, then farther, then closer to the reader, as if she were moving around, which made it more enjoyable to listen to the stilted form in 1.0x speed. Eventually, I either grew accustomed to the narration style, or the reader realized her error and began to pick up speed. I decided to listen to the other books in the series in order, so that I wouldn't need to get used to it again in each book. For those who cannot adapt easily, I suggest reading these books old school. The storyline *is* interesting. I'm listening to the second book now, and it's interesting as well (yes, the Valley accent is still used...I really hope this narrator abandons it at some point).
My personal rating: PG for occasional language, though there is violence as well, so some parents may consider this a PG-13 book.
Reading and listening to books is a way of life for me I love to get out of my world and immerse myself in something new
Good start to a series that definitely made me want more. At first I wanted to tell October to wake up and stop being a wimp but once she got going the book was great.
Very real emotions, fantasy and crime mix was interesting!
Characters were clearly different. Good portrayal of emotions.
The death of Tobys' friend and how she felt when she heard the phone message.
Overall, this book was not my cup of tea.
October was a horrible detective. It was shocking how much sleuthing she didn't do. I'm sorry but stumbling around town looking for answers by while wielding a snarky, bad attitude with no magical skill to back it up does not a cool heroine make. She didn't even ask good questions; just cashed in on favors. Though I found it pretty hilarious how much she got her butt kicked throughout the book. This did nothing to make me root for her, or feel sorry for her. I wanted October to have or find some kind of strength - moral or physical; but alas, neither was found. So in the end, I found October to be a dissatisfying lead.
A large contributor to this was because of how fickle I found October to be when it came to romance. Was I really to believe she was so torn up about her circumstance with her ex-fiancé, when she was in the verge of falling into bed with practically every magical ex-lover she'd ever encountered? It left me scratching my head and not understand where she was coming from.
What I did like was that this book was full of fairy lore, and it did a decent job of laying the framework for the magical system in the series and did enough world-building to make the fantasy come alive. That said, you would have already had to be knowledgeable about fairy lore to keep up. There was tons of magical information thrown at us with no explanation.
I could go on picking apart this book, so I won't. I also won't be reading anymore of the series.