When two of Toby’s good friends’ children go missing from their own bedroom and another won’t wake up from being asleep, they call Toby in immediately to look for them. Soon the King of Cats reports that some of his kingdom’s children are missing too, and Quentin’s human girlfriend disappears as well. It quickly becomes clear that it’s time for the 100 year cycle of Blind Michael’s Hunt. Blind Michael, the Luidaeg’s brother, is incredibly powerful, and only three roads lead to his realm. Toby can only take each road once. That means she has only three chances to save the children and stop the Hunt.
I picked this book up immediately after finishing the second in the series and, oh man, it did not disappoint. This book presents an old school Brothers Grimm style blood-curdling, toes-curling fairy tale, peppered with characters we’ve already come to know and love.
Blind Michael is scary. What he does to the children is really scary. He turns the fae children into “Riders” monstrous twists on real fae features. He turns the human children into their horses for them to ride. Everything about Blind Michael and his twisted land scared the crap out of me, and I don’t scare easily. It was exactly the sort of scare I used to seek out as a child from the original Grimm Fairy Tales (the ones that are not cleaned up). This book goes a lot darker than the first two, which were already dark, and it went there in such a different way from the first two plots. The first two plots were entirely about murder, here we have someone stealing children from their beds. It’s a completely different type of scare and different sort of mystery for Toby to have to figure out.
The plot tells more than just this one mystery, though, it also brings out some information that is key to the overarching plot of the series. I really enjoyed how smoothly this was worked together, and I also must say I didn’t predict at all where it was going.
There are basically two themes in the book, one I appreciated and the other I didn’t particularly agree with. Let’s start with the one I didn’t agree with.
There’s a theme in the book that children on some level must deal with and be held responsible for the choices of their parents. Toby tries to pretend otherwise, but that doesn’t work out so well for her.
Blood will tell. I tried to pretend it wouldn’t that we could change, but blood always tells. We carry the burdens of our parents. (loc 312)
It basically reads as the idea that you can’t run away from your family or from your blood, your nature. Personally, I don’t like that frame of thought. You can leave your family of birth and not have to be held responsible for them. You are not your parents. You are your own person. You are not responsible for what your parents do after you leave home. So this theme didn’t sit well with me. Other readers who agree with this theme will obviously enjoy it more.
The other theme was one I was quite happy to see so directly addressed in an urban fantasy and that is of suicidal ideation. There are many different ways that suicidal ideation can manifest, but with Toby her symptoms are that she firmly believes her death is imminent and is planning for it, and she repeatedly throws herself into risk situations because she doesn’t care if she dies. Suicidal ideation essentially means that a person is lacking self-preservation instincts and is ok with dying. They won’t actually commit suicide but they will put themselves into dangerous situations because part of them does want to die. So they might run across a street without looking, go walking alone at 2am in a dangerous neighborhood, etc… Toby’s depression from the first two books has grown so much that she is now at this point, and people have started calling her out on it. Seeing her realize that she’s, in layman’s terms, got a death wish, is interesting and well-done. What I appreciate most about it is how directly it is addressed.
Because, dear October, you’re the most passively suicidal person I’ve ever met, and that’s saying something. You’ll never open your wrists, but you’ll run head-first into hell. You’ll have good reasons. You’ll have great reasons, even. And part of you will be praying that you won’t come out again. (loc 3876)
Overall, this entry in the series brings back the characters readers have come to love and puts them into a new mystery much more terrifying than the first two. Two strong themes in the book include nature/nurture/ties to parents and dealing with suicidal ideation. Fans of the series won’t be disappointed. This is a roller coaster ride of emotions and peril.
4 out of 5 stars
Hello my lovely readers! Many book bloggers are familiar with Carl of Stainless Steel Droppings’ two big reading challenges he runs every year. I often participate in the fall challenge for reading horror/thriller/mystery/etc… but I have never participated in the spring challenge for reading fantasy, because I used to think I don’t like fantasy. I’ve discovered that I’m wrong. I do like fantasy, just mainly urban fantasy and fantasies that are not set in a Medieval Europe style setting. So I thought that this year I would participate in Once Upon a Time IX!
Once Upon a Time IX focuses on reading books that fit into the categories of fantasy, folklore, fairy tales, or mythology between March 21st and June 21st. I’m signing up for the level called “The Journey.” Read at least one book in any of those categories. I’m hoping to read more than one but I was worried if I signed up for a higher level it would feel like too much pressure to me. My personal goal right now is three books.
Books I already own that fit the challenge are listed below. I’d love to hear from you in the comments if there’s one you’d particularly like to recommend to me from my list!
- Carpe Jugulum by Terry Pratchett
- Cycle of the Werewolf by Stephen King
- Deadtown by Nancy Holzner
- Fables Vol. 1 by Bill Willingham
- Fated by S. G. Browne
- A Local Habitation by Seanan McGuire
- The Nonborn King by Julian May
- Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos by H. P. Lovecraft
- Unshapely Things by Mark Del Franco
- The Veiled Mirror by Christine Frost
- Watership Down by Richard Adams
- The Years of Rice and Salt by Kim Stanley Robinson
Tomorrow marks the official end of Carl of Stainless Steel Droppings’ RIP Challenge, and since I know that I will not be finishing another read for the challenge, I decided to post my wrap-up today.
I got really into the reading challenge this year, as I’m sure you could tell from the influx of creepy books on my blog! Most of the books I read over the last two months fit into the parameters of the challenge, which is to read something sufficiently creepy in any of the following genres to set the tone for Halloween:
Or anything sufficiently moody that shares a kinship with the above.
I read a total of 10 books for the challenge. I’ll break the list down by rating for you all.
5 star reads
- A Banquet for Hungry Ghosts by Ying Chang Compestine (review)
- Still Missing by Chevy Stevens (review)
- Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (review)
4 star reads
- I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead by E. A. Aymar (review)
- Beverly Hills Demon Slayer by Angie Fox (review)
3 star reads
2 star reads
- Brains: A Zombie Memoir by Robin Becker (review)
- Barely Breathing by Michael J. Kolinski (review)
- The Walking Dead: The Fall of the Governor: Part One by Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga (review)
- Favorite read: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (review)
- Least favorite read: Barely Breathing by Michael J. Kolinski (review)
- Most disturbing: Still Missing by Chevy Stevens (review)
- Most amusing: Beverly Hills Demon Slayer by Angie Fox (review)
- Most unique: A Banquet for Hungry Ghosts by Ying Chang Compestine (review)
- Biggest gross-out: From a Buick 8 by Stephen King (review)
Of these 10 reads, 3 were review copies and 3 fit into my Bottom of the TBR Pile Challenge. As for format, 4 were print, 4 were ebooks, and 2 were audiobooks. A nice distribution, I think!
The challenge really put me in the mood for Halloween. It maybe did too good of a job! I’m ready for some light-hearted romances now, people. Lol. The focused selection of reading materials really helped me take a good chunk out of my TBR pile, which I appreciated. Stay tuned in November for a return to the wide variety of reading you’ve come to expect here at Opinions of a Wolf!
Did you enjoy seeing me participate in the challenge? Did you participate in the challenge too? What was your favorite review I wrote for the challenge?