The October Daye series (so far) by Seanan McGuire
Toby clearly is less about the glamour and more about the grit than a lot of urban fantasy protagonists. Which is wonderful and refreshing.
[From Rosemary and Rue, the first volume.]
October “Toby” Daye, a changeling who is half human and half fae, has been an outsider from birth. After getting burned by both sides of her heritage, Toby has denied the Faerie world, retreating to a “normal” life. Unfortunately for her, the Faerie world has other ideas…
The murder of Countess Evening Winterrose pulls Toby back into the fae world. Unable to resist Evening’s dying curse, which binds her to investigate, Toby must resume her former position as knight errant and renew old alliances. As she steps back into fae society, dealing with a cast of characters not entirely good or evil, she realizes that more than her own life will be forfeited if she cannot find Evening’s killer.
I have now read 6 Toby Daye novels, and there are at least 4 more planned (from the author’s website). Also, several short stories from the universe. This is all very good news.
This series has everything good. Everything.
Veronica Mars! Now, Toby might not be a teenager,and she may be half-fae, but she’s got a lot in common with our girl VMars. She’s determined, has a strong sense of justice (which may not always fall in line with rules), and an investigator more than a physical ass-kicker. She has a few magical powers that she doesn’t know how to control very well, but mostly she uses common sense, innovation, and a whole lot of willpower to solve problems.
Consistency! There is little variation in quality and tone between book to book, yet Toby clearly grows and changes throughout the series. I did feel that the mystery was a bit less exciting in the second volume, but that still puts it at a higher level than most urban fantasies I’ve read. Even if you feel less positively toward book 2 than I did, keep going, because things get really awesome later.
Tybalt! He’s the king of the Bay Area Cait Sidhe (Cat-Faeries), and though you can’t always trust the Cait Sidhe (I mean, they’re CATS, and they have their own structure of power, separate from the other Fae) he is a delicious, intriguing character. I found this photo of Colin O’Donohue as Hook on someone else’s fantasy casting list, and YES.
When trying to list the awesome things about October Daye, I feel like the Moulin Rouge folks trying to explain their play to the count.
Spectacular Spectacular! Intrigue, danger, and romance! Mysteries, faeries (who are well-rounded people, not Tinkerbell clones), high stakes, and a heroine who is definitely not perfect, but definitely someone to cheer for. I’m a little sad that I didn’t discover this series as soon as it came out. Of course, then I would have had to wait longer in between volumes…
I own all of the six novels out so far, a few of them in both paper and digital.