A Red-Rose Chain (October Daye Series)

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9781501257872: A Red-Rose Chain (October Daye Series)

Things are looking up.

For the first time in what feels like years, October “Toby” Daye has been able to pause long enough to take a breath and look at her life—and she likes what she sees. She has friends. She has allies. She has a squire to train and a King of Cats to love and maybe she can let her guard down for a change.

Or not. When Queen Windermere’s seneschal is elf-shot and thrown into an enchanted sleep by agents from the neighboring Kingdom of Silences, Toby finds herself in a role she never expected to play: that of diplomat. She must travel to Portland, Oregon, to convince King Rhys of Silences not to go to war against the Mists. But nothing is that simple, and what October finds in Silences is worse than she would ever have imagined.

How far will Toby go when lives are on the line, and when allies both old and new are threatened by a force she had never expected to face again? How much is October willing to give up, and how much is she willing to change? In Faerie, what’s past is never really gone.

It’s just waiting for an opportunity to pounce.

“Prepare to be dazzled.... Like the best of urban fantasy, with each reveal and mystery solved, Toby’s world grows ever more enticing. As seductive as Faerie itself, this is one series I could never give up.” —All Things Urban Fantasy

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About the Author:

Seanan McGuire was born and raised in Northern California, where she has lived for the majority of her life. She spends most of her time writing or watching television, but also draws a semi-autobiographical comic strip and has released several albums of filk music (science fiction and fantasy themed folk music). To relax, Seanan enjoys travel, and frequents haunted corn mazes, aquariums with good octopus habitats, and Disney Parks. Seanan is remarkably good at finding reptiles and amphibians wherever she goes, sometimes to the dismay of the people she happens to be traveling with.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Praise for the October Daye Novels

Rosemary and Rue will surely appeal to readers who enjoy my books, or those of Patricia Briggs.”

—Charlaine Harris, #1 New York Times bestselling author

“McGuire has never lacked for courage in her writing, and this eighth entry in the phenomenally inventive October Daye series showcases her narrative daring and ingenuity beautifully. By forcing Toby to question her own identity and loyalties, McGuire highlights what a truly strong character Toby has always been, and what a remarkable heroine she has become.”

—RT Book Reviews

“The plot is strong, the characterization is terrific, the tragedies hurt . . . and McGuire’s usual beautiful writing and dark humor are present and accounted for. This has become one of my favorite urban fantasy series, and I can’t wait to find out what happens next.”

—FantasyLiterature.com

“An urban fantasy detective series featuring a resourceful female detective . . . [October Daye] should appeal to fans of Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files as well as the novels of Charlaine Harris, Patricia Briggs, and similar authors.”

Library Journal

“It’s fun watching [Toby] stick doggedly to the case as the killer picks off more victims and the tension mounts.”

LOCUS

“With Ashes of Honor, McGuire has crafted a deeply personal and intense story that will keep you on the edge, hoping to be pushed over. In my opinion, it is, hands down, the best Toby to date.”

—The Ranting Dragon

“These books are like watching half a season of your favorite television series all at once. . . . More than anything else, it’s the fun of it all that’s kept me returning to McGuire’s books, and to this series, long after I’ve stopped reading other mainstream titles.”

—SF Signal

“I love that Toby is a strong, independent—yet still vulnerable—heroine. I love that this is a world where people die, where consequences matter. I love the complex world-building and mythology. I love the almost film noir tone of the series. I love that each book leaves me wanting more. If you dig urban fantasy, this is one of the best out there.”

—CC2K

DAW Books presents the finest in urban fantasy from Seanan McGuire:

InCryptid Novels:

DISCOUNT ARMAGEDDON

MIDNIGHT BLUE-LIGHT SPECIAL

HALF-OFF RAGNAROK

POCKET APOCALYPSE

CHAOS CHOREOGRAPHY*

SPARROW HILL ROAD

October Daye Novels:

ROSEMARY AND RUE

A LOCAL HABITATION

AN ARTIFICIAL NIGHT

LATE ECLIPSES

ONE SALT SEA

ASHES OF HONOR

CHIMES AT MIDNIGHT

THE WINTER LONG

A RED-ROSE CHAIN

*Coming soon from DAW Books.

Copyright © 2015 by Seanan McGuire.

All Rights Reserved.

Cover art by Chris McGrath.

Cover design by G-Force Design.

Interior dingbat created by Tara O’Shea.

DAW Book Collectors No. 1706.

Published by DAW Books, Inc.

375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014

All characters and events in this book are fictitious.

Any resemblance to persons living or dead is strictly coincidental.

The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal, and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage the electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

Nearly all the designs and trade names in this book are registered trademarks. All that are still in commercial use are protected by United States and international trademark law.

ISBN 978-1-101-60178-5

DAW TRADEMARK REGISTERED
U.S. PAT. AND TM. OFF. AND FOREIGN COUNTRIES
—MARCA REGISTRADA
HECHO EN U.S.A.

For Brooke.

I am so lucky to have you in my life.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS:

Every new Toby book is an adventure for me as a writer just as much as it (hopefully) is for you as a reader. A Red-Rose Chain was a surprise from start to finish, and that’s the best kind of book for me, as a writer. I learned things that excited me, and I’m so glad that you’re still here.

As always, there are people who need to be thanked. Thanks to the Machete Squad, for tireless support and editorial assistance, and to the entire team at DAW, without whose faith in me this book would not exist. Thanks to Talis, Teddy, and Amal, for hosting me at various spots around the United Kingdom while I finished this book, and to my entire Parisian crew, for not drowning me in the hot tub located in the basement of our Murder Palace.

Thank you Vixy, for continuing to put up with me; Amy, for continuing to love me; and Shawn, for clicking on all those axolotl pictures I send you. Thanks to Patty, for understanding that sometimes I am just going to become God’s problem, and to Robert and Rachel for emergency staffing duties.

Sheila Gilbert remains the best of all possible editors, Diana Fox remains the best of all possible agents, and Chris McGrath remains the best of all possible cover artists. While we’re on this track, my cats are the best of all possible cats. So are yours, if you have them. All hail the pit crew: Christopher Mangum, Tara O’Shea, and Kate Secor.

My soundtrack while writing A Red-Rose Chain consisted mostly of Songs About Teeth, by Cake Bake Betty, Caffeine & Big Dreams, by Kira Isabella, the soundtrack of Ghost Brothers of Darkland County, endless live concert recordings of the Counting Crows, and a really awesome playlist made for me by Amal. Any errors in this book are entirely my own. The errors that aren’t here are the ones that all these people helped me fix.

Welcome back.

OCTOBER DAYE PRONUNCIATION GUIDE

THROUGH A RED-ROSE CHAIN

All pronunciations are given strictly phonetically. This only covers races explicitly named in the first nine books, omitting Undersea races not appearing or mentioned in book nine.

Afanc: ah-fank. Plural is “Afanc.”

Annwn: ah-noon. No plural exists.

Bannick: ban-nick. Plural is “Bannicks.”

Barghest: bar-guy-st. Plural is “Barghests.”

Blodynbryd: blow-din-brid. Plural is “Blodynbryds.”

Cait Sidhe: kay-th shee. Plural is “Cait Sidhe.”

Candela: can-dee-la. Plural is “Candela.”

Coblynau: cob-lee-now. Plural is “Coblynau.”

Cu Sidhe: coo shee. Plural is “Cu Sidhe.”

Daoine Sidhe: doon-ya shee. Plural is “Daoine Sidhe,” diminutive is “Daoine.”

Djinn: jin. Plural is “Djinn.”

Dóchas Sidhe: doe-sh-as shee. Plural is “Dóchas Sidhe.”

Ellyllon: el-lee-lawn. Plural is “Ellyllons.”

Gean-Cannah: gee-ann can-na. Plural is “Gean-Cannah.”

Glastig: glass-tig. Plural is “Glastigs.”

Gwragen: guh-war-a-gen. Plural is “Gwragen.”

Hamadryad: ha-ma-dry-add. Plural is “Hamadryads.”

Hippocampus: hip-po-cam-pus. Plural is “Hippocampi.”

Kelpie: kel-pee. Plural is “Kelpies.”

Kitsune: kit-soo-nay. Plural is “Kitsune.”

Lamia: lay-me-a. Plural is “Lamia.”

The Luidaeg: the lou-sha-k. No plural exists.

Manticore: man-tee-core. Plural is “Manticores.”

Mauthe Doog: mwa-th doo-g. Plural is “Mauthe Doog.”

Naiad: nigh-add. Plural is “Naiads.”

Nixie: nix-ee. Plural is “Nixen.”

Peri: pear-ee. Plural is “Peri.”

Piskie: piss-key. Plural is “Piskies.”

Puca: puh-ca. Plural is “Pucas.”

Roane: row-n. Plural is “Roane.”

Satyr: say-tur. Plural is “Satyrs.”

Selkie: sell-key. Plural is “Selkies.”

Shyi Shuai: shh-yee shh-why. Plural is “Shyi Shuai.”

Silene: sigh-lean. Plural is “Silene.”

Tuatha de Dannan: tootha day danan. Plural is “Tuatha de Dannan,” diminutive is “Tuatha.”

Tylwyth Teg: till-with teeg. Plural is “Tylwyth Teg,” diminutive is “Tylwyth.”

Urisk: you-risk. Plural is “Urisk.”

ONE

March 11th, 2013

Thus he that overruled I oversway’d,

Leading him prisoner in a red-rose chain:

Strong-tempered steel his stronger strength obey’d,

Yet was he servile to my coy disdain.

—William Shakespeare, Venus and Adonis.

“SO HOW LONG ARE you and the kitty-cat plannin’ on doing this whole ‘engagement’ thing?” Danny punctuated his words with a sweep of one heavy hand. The motion neatly swatted the enormous black dog that had been leaping for my head out of the air, sending it crashing to the ground. It yelped. Danny pointed at it, saying sternly, “Stay down, ya big mutt!”

“Could we focus on the Mauthe Doog for right now, and talk about my engagement later?” I asked, as I swung my sword at another of the shaggy canines. It dodged easily. They all had. I wasn’t as good with a blade as Danny was with his hands, and in the end, I was just too slow. “I don’t want to be torn to shreds because you’re planning floral arrangements!”

I would normally have felt bad about attacking dogs with swords. I like dogs. Most dogs aren’t feral teleporters the size of small ponies. Human animal rights groups have very different problems than fae ones. For one thing, most human animal rights groups don’t have to worry as much about being eaten.

“I’m just sayin’, maybe you need to start talking about dates.” Danny grabbed another dog by the tail, scolding, “No. Bad. We don’t eat people.”

The dog snarled and snapped at him, not quite managing to twist around enough to sink its teeth into his arm. That was a pity. Danny’s a Bridge Troll, with the solid, concrete-like skin to prove it. If the dog had tried to take a bite out of him, it would have probably broken several teeth, and made itself a lot less dangerous to me.

With most people, it’s unfair for me to expect them to play shield. I heal faster than anyone else I’ve ever met, to the point where if I watch closely I can actually see my skin knitting back together—and trust me, that’s even more unnerving than it sounds. Danny is one of the few exceptions to this rule. He’s huge, imposing, and virtually indestructible. He heals slower than I do, but that doesn’t matter, because there’s almost nothing that can actually injure him. All of this makes him uniquely well-suited to being my partner when I have to do something ridiculously dangerous—like, say, clearing out a pack of Mauthe Doog that should never have been roving the salt flats of Marin.

Not that we were out there alone. My squire, Quentin Sollys, and my boyfriend-slash-fiancé, Tybalt, were about fifty yards away, dealing with their own contingent of black dogs. Quentin had his sword, and was handling his share of the problem with a grace and finesse that I will probably never possess, even if I live to be a thousand—although he hadn’t managed to land a hit, either. The dogs were just too fast for something as clumsy as a sword. Tybalt was having better luck. He had shifted far enough into his feline mien that his hands had become heavy with claws and his mouth bristled with teeth, and he was taking out his share of the Mauthe Doog in the classic cat-meets-dog fashion. I could hear his feral snarls, and the dogs’ pained yelps, all the way down the beach.

Mauthe Doog are native to a few small islands in Avalon, one of the deeper realms of Faerie. All the deeper realms were sealed by Oberon centuries ago, as part of the process of locking up the house and hiding the valuables before he went on an extended vacation, leaving his descendants to fend for ourselves. Most of the really dangerous monsters fell under the “valuables” category, and were shut off from the rest of us, leaving our asses unchewed and our pets uneaten. Unfortunately, there’d been an incident about nine months ago involving an uncontrolled, overpowered teleporter named Chelsea Ames. Chelsea was strong enough to rip holes in those closed walls between the realms, leading to leakage from all the deep, dark places into the Summerlands, the last accessible Faerie country. Which also happened to be the one closest to the mortal world. Which meant that once something was there, it could easily wind up here.

We’d managed to stop Chelsea before she could completely destabilize Faerie, leading to the loss of the Summerlands, or worse. That didn’t do anything to stuff whatever had already managed to come through back into the places where it belonged. Sylvester, my currently semi-estranged liege lord, wound up adopting an Afanc, a docile lake creature big enough to squash cars. The local pixie tribes swelled by a factor of five, and promptly began battling each other for territory, shrieking in hypersonic voices and stabbing each other with tiny poisoned spears. And those of us unlucky enough to be on-call as knights errant or heroes of the realm got to spend a lot of time playing mediator between the warring swarms.

Guess what I do for a living. Lucky me.

“Toby, watch your back!”

Danny’s shout caused me to whip around, sword raised defensively. The leaping Mauthe Doog rebounded off the blade with a yelp, leaving a smear of red-black blood behind. The fae dog retreated a few steps, alternately whining and growling. I stared in surprise at the blood on the blade. It smelled like hot copper and distant fens, a rich, boggy smell that was as familiar as it was foreign.

They had been moving too fast before for me to draw blood. Danny had been doing a lot of damage, but it had all been blunt force trauma. Not much blood in that sort of fight.

“Danny, cover me,” I said, and brought the sword to my mouth.

“You’re not gonna—aw, shit, you are. That’s gross,” grumbled the Bridge Troll, and moved to shield me from the remaining dogs as I licked the blood from the side of my sword.

Faerie is a funny place. There are hundreds of different types of fae, all descended from the First Three: Oberon, Maeve, and Titania. We can look different enough from one another that it’s impossible to believe we could be related, much less share the same origin, but it’s true. And all of us have our own special talents to help us survive. Some are shapeshifters, like Tybalt. Others are built to last, like Danny. The rest of us have to depend on subtler magic. Like blood.

My kind of fae, the Dóchas Sidhe, are the best blood-workers of all. The fact that I’m a changeling—part human, part fae, although the fae part of me is getting stronger all the time, at the inevitable expense of my humanity—has never been enough to keep me from accessing the magic my lineage is heir to, even when I would have been better off leaving that magic alone. The fact that I hate the sight of blood is neither here nor there. If anything, it’s proof that the universe has a sense of humor.

The Mauthe Doog’s blood was tart and faintly bitter, like it had been tainted by some unknown substance. I closed my eyes as I swallowed, tr...

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Book Description Audible Studios on Brilliance, 2015. CD-Audio. Book Condition: New. Unabridged. Language: English . Brand New. Things are looking up. For the first time in what feels like years, October Toby Daye has been able to pause long enough to take a breath and look at her life and she likes what she sees. She has friends. She has allies. She has a squire to train and a King of Cats to love and maybe she can let her guard down for a change. Or not. When Queen Windermere s seneschal is elf-shot and thrown into an enchanted sleep by agents from the neighboring Kingdom of Silences, Toby finds herself in a role she never expected to play: that of diplomat. She must travel to Portland, Oregon, to convince King Rhys of Silences not to go to war against the Mists. But nothing is that simple, and what October finds in Silences is worse than she would ever have imagined. How far will Toby go when lives are on the line, and when allies both old and new are threatened by a force she had never expected to face again? How much is October willing to give up, and how much is she willing to change? In Faerie, what s past is never really gone. It s just waiting for an opportunity to pounce. Prepare to be dazzled. Like the best of urban fantasy, with each reveal and mystery solved, Toby s world grows ever more enticing. As seductive as Faerie itself, this is one series I could never give up. All Things Urban Fantasy. Bookseller Inventory # BRI9781501257872

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Book Description Audible Studios on Brilliance, 2015. CD-Audio. Book Condition: New. Unabridged. Language: English . Brand New. Things are looking up. For the first time in what feels like years, October Toby Daye has been able to pause long enough to take a breath and look at her life and she likes what she sees. She has friends. She has allies. She has a squire to train and a King of Cats to love and maybe she can let her guard down for a change. Or not. When Queen Windermere s seneschal is elf-shot and thrown into an enchanted sleep by agents from the neighboring Kingdom of Silences, Toby finds herself in a role she never expected to play: that of diplomat. She must travel to Portland, Oregon, to convince King Rhys of Silences not to go to war against the Mists. But nothing is that simple, and what October finds in Silences is worse than she would ever have imagined. How far will Toby go when lives are on the line, and when allies both old and new are threatened by a force she had never expected to face again? How much is October willing to give up, and how much is she willing to change? In Faerie, what s past is never really gone. It s just waiting for an opportunity to pounce. Prepare to be dazzled. Like the best of urban fantasy, with each reveal and mystery solved, Toby s world grows ever more enticing. As seductive as Faerie itself, this is one series I could never give up. All Things Urban Fantasy. Bookseller Inventory # BRI9781501257872

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