If you recall at the end of the last novel, where Toby almost dies for the umpteenth time, her friend Walter figured out the cure to elf shot with the help of Toby’s nose for magic. Handy, since that was used to cure her. The problem with the cure is that it takes away the one tool the pure blood elves can use against each other with impunity. It didn’t matter to them that elf shot kills anyone with a lick of human blood in them, so long as they didn’t kill each other – per Oberon’s law.
In order to make a decision as to how, when or if this cure should be used, High King Sollys (Quentin’s father) calls a conclave in the Kingdom of the Mists. Queen Arden manages to snag waking her Seneschal, Madden, before Sollys arrives, but her brother will have to remain asleep until after a decision is made.
Being one of the people to bring about this cure, Toby is summoned to attend the conclave with her squire. Tybalt invites himself along as king of cats for the area. He doesn’t give the pureblood kings and queens the choice and really, to be polite they should have invited him in the first place. The Luidaeg also invites herself along, but who is going to stop her.
All is going smoothly for a large political convention – well, as smoothly as can be expected – when two things happen in quick succession. One, a king from the Los Angeles area (the Kingdom of Angels) gets killed and Dianda, Duchess of Salt Mist gets elf shot. Because she’s the only prominent changeling in the conclave, Toby gets immediately suspected of killing the pureblood king, even by those who know her. Which – what the hell? You know her, love her and believe in her…unless a pureblood is involved? Fuck you and your fairweather friendship.
In order to make sure the murder gets solved and they don’t accidentally start a war with the Undersea, Sollys taps Toby to solve the murder and the elf shooting. The second one is easy. Because Dianda is sleeping, Toby gets her niece, Karen the dreamwalker, to get her into Dianda’s dream to see if she saw anything. Karen is at the conclave because Evening Winterrose, who is elf shot herself, is haunting the poor girl’s dreams and demanding she speak for her at the conclave.
They find out that one of the Dukes from an inland kingdom elf shot Dianda on the assumption that Undersea can kiss his ass I guess. High King Sollys orders him to be elf shot in return, a final disposition to pend Dianda’s decision on what to do when she wakes up. Whether that is soon or in one hundred years has yet to be determined.
The murder is harder to figure out. The dead man didn’t see anything, just a weird rustling sound like tin foil being ripped and a couple of flickering shadows. After a near miss where Toby nearly dies (again. I think McGuire needs a new trope. Seriously.), she and her usual cohorts figure out that someone is using faery rings to freeze the victims for a few seconds, just enough to kill the person. Faery rings are simple ring constructs that can freeze a victim for a chosen period of time, but unlike elf shot, they are limited to the physical space of the ring. It isn’t very useful so people don’t use it very much anymore and the Luideig herself has almost completely forgotten how to do them, she’s that old.
After riding her own blood for information, Toby realizes that the King and Queen of High Mountain (Colorado) are the responsible parties. She goes after them with a vengeance because they shot and nearly killed Tybalt. Clearly they haven’t heard not to fuck with Toby’s family. It turns out that their barrow wight handmaiden was the one actually doing the deeds, but the king and queen were threatening her sister to make her do it.
Toby ends up falling out of a tower window in order to keep the elf shot victims (Arden’s brother, Tybalt, Dianda and a few others including now Quentin and Walter who happened to be in the way) safe from the crazy ass queen and her handmaiden. She survives…barely (*sigh*)…and manages to sleep her way through the end of the conclave.
The decision is made to use the cure on those who were wrongfully shot. People who were shot on accident or who were attacked as a means to get them out of the way (Arden’s brother, Dianda). Those who committed a crime for which elf shot would be the punishment (the duke who shot Dianda) would serve out that punishment. This is fair, I think, but there’s definitely loopholes that can be exploited I’m sure.
At the end of the book, we get our happy ending plus an offer from Quentin’s mother the high queen to hold her wedding in Toronto, where Quentin’s family rules from. I think in the next book, we might possibly get to Tybalt and Toby’s wedding! Holy crap won’t that be fun? And probably deadly for someone. Or perhaps we might see what the Luidaeg finally wants Toby to do. Either way, I’m excited to see what’s next.
Things I particularly liked about this book: Seanan McGuire just tosses in that Quentin is in a same sex relationship with Dean Lorden, Dianda’s son. I love that this is such a “who cares that they’re both boys” world that the bigger issue is that Quentin will some day be high king and what will that do to their relationship? Also, the book opens up with Toby holding a “slumber party” of the full and partial blood teens that she knows to give them a night of just being kids. Just a nice, normal night for the most part. I also like that Quentin’s mom is a half blood turned pure blood via hope chest, and is therefore a very approachable woman. This is one of my favorite Toby Daye books so far. Rating: A+