"It can't all be dreams because a broken dream will kill you as surely as a nightmare will, and with a lot less mercy. At least the nightmares don't smile while they take you down."
This unusual Urban Fantasy series focuses on a changeling (half human, half fae) stuck between the politics of different fae branches while fitting in with the human world. Kind of. Toby used to be a private investigator for her leige, but she was almost killed and punished a severe way. When she recovered from this (I'm careful with spoilers about this shocker), she was left with a lot less ties to the human world, to say the least.
This book's pretty grim - a lot of bad things happen and good people die. There's depressing events and turns in the protagonist's life, as well as some glimpses of goodness and family warmth coming forth from unexpected sources. It's not written in the typical Urban Fantasy or fantasy tone, but more similar to a noirish/hard case mystery crime style.
Despite the writing style being workable and the worldbuilding unique, Toby makes a great main character: she's smart but not unreasonably so; she's kind but not mushy and unrealistic; she's tough but average-tough, not that unrealistic stuff that's growing old in UF trends. The other characters...it's confusing on what to think of them. They're multi-dimensional.
Why an average rating? Despite the promise of a mystery and the alluring world, little really happens. She investigates, but nothing grabs my attention. Honestly I kept getting a little bored. I should have felt more emotional oomph with the bad stuff after she recovered at the beginning, I should have been more invested in the story, but for some reason I just wasn't. The structure was sound and the foundation firm, but inside it was a little plain and under-furnished.
Really the mystery wasn't strong because the character would try a different person to talk to, literally going through a mental list of who to go to next, till the answer was revealed by a last person she tried talking to.
It became annoying how Toby almost died between questioning scenes, that grew old fast, and instead of helping the pace it started hurting it. Usually a character attacked and near death keeps things exciting and thrillingly tense, but it became so expected and routine that I started skimming it for the next recovery.
Finally, while the world building is complex, the author opened the book where everything's already established in the character's mind and relationships, leaving the reader attempted to catch up. I couldn't get these weird relationships she had with these unusual characters, I really couldn't understand the connections and motivations there.
I will try the next book in the series - it's a long running series and has a fan base, so I'm assuming there must be something there, hopefully easier to attach to when I'm finally able to understand and appreciate the relationship connections.
“If anything attacked us, we could just panic at it until it went away.”