Review: The Brightest Fell by Seanan McGuire

Reviewed by Jen

The more things change in this series, the more they stay the same. And that make sense in a world that features characters who have lived hundreds of years if not more. Since the very first book in the series Toby has faced so much prejudice and disdain for being a changeling. We have seen the fae characters wrinkle their noses at any and all beings they considered lesser. In many ways, this precept stands above all other things. And it’s rings more true than ever here.

The story begins with Toby in a happy place. She celebrating her bachelorette party; she has a great group of friends and family she loves. She has a future with Tybalt and she’s really quite grateful for where things stand. And that’s a huge flashing sign that everything’s about to go to hell. Which of course it does.

Toby’s mother is back. And she is horrible. We learned in prior books that Toby had an older sister, August, who disappeared before Toby was even born. Now mommy dearest wants her back and she doesn’t mind twisting the knife into her youngest daughter to do it. Amy is a Firstborn which we’ve seen in other books is usually an indicator that she is pretty lacking in empathy or morality. I doesn’t make it any easier to see how little regard she has for Toby. For God’s sake, she chose to have Toby with the mortal man. She chose to make a changeling, yet Toby doesn’t hold a candle to her real daughter, the pureblood fae.

Trust me when I say Toby has no choice but to do as her mother asks. She has the best motivation possible. And she has to make a deal with the Sea Witch to find the means to be successful in her mission. It takes her into the Summerlands and brings her face to face with the repercussions of her actions in prior books. We revisit some things that had essentially been put to bed. But in this world, nothing is ever really over.

Toby is separated from all of her tribe for the vast majority of the book, and I missed them. But this book did not feel like it existed in the bubble, because of all of those threads I talked about coming back to be tied up. Toby is put through the wringer, but isn’t she always? She goes through so much to do the right thing.

I’ll admit, it took me a little while to remember all of the backstory. The series has become quite dense, and that’s more noticeable here because the author has plucked so many strands from those earlier books. But it’s gratifying to see some of the chickens come home to roost. They almost feel like Easter eggs for a long time readers. That being said, this is not the place to jump into this series. If you are interested, you should start at the beginning with Rosemary and Rue.

There is a lot to like about this book and really nothing that I didn’t. It is hard to see Toby get so many hard knocks, but I suppose that there wouldn’t be much story left to tell if her world were allowed to give her much of a break. She is such a great character, the embodiment of a hero. Which makes sense, because that’s what she is. No matter how much it hurts.

A very good installment.

Rating: A-

*ARC provided by publisher

Click to purchase: Amazon

The Brightest Fell
by Seanan McGuire
Release Date: September 5, 2017
Publisher: DAW

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