Review: A Killing Frost, by Seanan McGuire

Russ Allbery eagle at
Sat Oct 14 19:06:31 PDT 2023

A Killing Frost
by Seanan McGuire

Series:    October Daye #14
Publisher: DAW
Copyright: 2020
ISBN:      0-7564-1253-6
Format:    Kindle
Pages:     351

A Killing Frost is the 14th book in the October Daye urban fantasy
series and a direct plot sequel to the events of The Brightest Fell.
You definitely cannot start here.

This review has some relationship spoilers here for things that you
would be expecting after the first five or six books, but which you
wouldn't know when reading the first few books of the series. If you
haven't started the series yet but plan to, consider skipping this
review; if you haven't started reading this series, it will probably be
meaningless anyway.

Finally, events seem to have slowed, enough trauma has been healed, and
Toby is able to seriously consider getting married. However, no sooner
is the thought voiced than fae politics injects itself yet again. In
order to get married without creating potentially substantial future
problems for herself and her family, Toby will have to tie up some
loose ends. Since of those loose ends is a price from the Luidaeg that
has been haunting her family for decades, this is easier said than

The Brightest Fell had a very unsatisfying ending. This, after a two
book interlude, is the proper end to that story.

I picked this up when I had a bunch of stressful things going on and I
wanted to be entertained without having to do much work as a reader.
Once again, this series delivered exactly that. The writing is
repetitive and a bit clunky, McGuire hammers the same emotional points
into the ground, and one does wonder about Toby's tendency to emulate a
half-human battering ram, but every book has me engrossed and turning
the pages. Everyone should have at least one book series on the go that
offers reliable, low-effort entertainment.

The initial lever that McGuire uses to push Toby into this plot (fae
marriage requirements that had never previously been mentioned) felt
rather strained and arbitrary, and I spent the first part of the book
grumbling a bit about it. However, there is a better reason for this
complication that is revealed with time, and which implies some
interesting things about how the fae see heroes and how they use them
to solve problems. Now I'm wondering if McGuire will explore that some
more in later books.

This is the "all is revealed" book about Simon Torquill. As we get
later into the series, these "all is revealed" books are coming more
frequently. So far, I'm finding the revelations satisfying, which is a
lot harder than it looks with a series this long and with this many
hidden details. There are a few directions the series is taking that
aren't my favorite (the Daoine Sidhe obsession with being the Best Fae
is getting a bit boring, for example), but none of them seem
egregiously off, and I'm deeply invested in the answers to the
remaining questions.

Toby hits a personal record here for not explaining the dangerous
things she's doing because people might talk her out of it. It makes
for a tense and gripping climax, but wow I felt for her friends and
family, and substantial parts of that risk seemed unnecessary. This is
pointed out to her in no uncertain terms, and I'm wondering if it will
finally stick. Toby's tendency to solve complicated problems by
bleeding on them is part of what gives this series its charm, but I
wouldn't mind her giving other people more of a chance to come up with
better plans.

I did not like this one as well as the previous two books, mostly
because I prefer the Luidaeg-centric stories to the
Daoine-Sidhe-centric stories, but if you're enjoying the series to this
point, this won't be an exception. It's a substantial improvement on
The Brightest Fell and did a lot to salvage that story for me, although
there are still some aspects of it that need better explanations.

Followed by When Sorrows Come.

As usual, there is a novella included in at least the Kindle edition.

"Shine in Pearl": I was again hoping for more Gillian, but alas.
Instead, and breaking with the tendency for the novellas to be side
stories unrelated to the main novel, this fleshes out Simon's past and
the other primary relationship driving the novel's plot.

It's... fine? The best parts by far are the scenes from Dianda's
viewpoint, which are just as refreshingly blunt as Dianda is elsewhere.
Neither of the other two characters are favorites of mine, and since
the point of the story is to describe the tragedy that is resolved in
the plot of the main novel, it's somewhat depressing. Not my favorite
of the novellas; not the worst of them. (6)

Rating: 7 out of 10

Reviewed: 2023-10-14


Russ Allbery (eagle at             <>

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