Sleep No More by Seanan McGuire (October Daye #17)
October is very happy with her life as the second daughter of her pureblood parents, Amandine and Simon Torquill. Born to be the changeling handmaid to her beloved sister August, she spends her days working in her family’s tower, serving as August’s companion, and waiting for the day when her sister sets up a household of her own. Everything is right in October’s Faerie. Everything is perfect.
Everything is a lie.
October has been pulled from her own reality and thrown into a twisted reinterpretation of Faerie where nothing is as it should be and everything has been distorted to support Titania’s ideals. Bound by the Summer Queen’s magic and thrust into a world turned upside down, October has no way of knowing who she can trust, where she can turn, or even who she really is. As strangers who claim to know her begin to appear and the edges of Titania’s paradise begin to unravel, Toby will have to decide whether she can risk everything she knows based on only their stories of another world.
But first she’ll have to survive this one, as Titania demonstrates why she needed to be banished in the first place—and this time, much more than Toby’s own life is at stake.
LENGTH: 384 pages
Queer Rep Summary: Lesbian/Sapphic Secondary Character(s), Gay/Achillean Secondary Character(s), Bi/Pan Secondary Character(s), Trans Minor Character(s).
*I received a free review copy in exchange for an honest review of this book.
I specifically enjoy books and series where nominally the same character has a transformation of mind, perception, and/or understanding of current events and their own history. While Toby has changed a great deal over the series so far, up until now most of the changes have been gradual (or, when extreme, temporary - e.g. her brief addiction to Goblin Fruit several books ago). SLEEP NO MORE, at long last, offers a very different version of October. This one is grateful to be her sister’s handmaiden, grew up with Simon Torquill as her father even though they share no blood, and knows of Amandine’s nature as Firstborn of the Dóchas Sidhe. October's memories have been rewritten, recontextualized, transformed to the point that many of the faces she ought to know best are alien to her. Entities who had been dealt with in earlier volumes are returned, rather, to her, they never left. Titania's vision of a perfect Faerie includes neither mixed bloods nor shapeshifters, let alone seers. Most immediately, it does not include the Cait Sidhe, and this version of October has never even met Tybalt.
Because October is unaware of her real previous history, much of the book follows a new storyline which was not present in any of the earlier volumes, but which in another way is a direct continuation of the previous books. There's often much backstory that could be explained, but if every bit of the story that got us here were detailed, not only would October run from the room at the news of just how often she'd gotten hurt before, but also it would bring this story to a grinding halt. Instead, what needs to be explained is summarized for October's benefit and to aid the reader's recall. It avoids belaboring any one point to those magicked to reject that understanding of reality.
SLEEP NO MORE is a direct continuation of the cliffhanger ending in BE THE SERPENT, and it addresses October's side of Titania's illusion. It is paired with the next book, THE INNOCENT SLEEP, which follows the same basic timeframe but from Tybalt's perspective. A few specific things are mentioned towards the end that will need to be handled in later books, but chief among them will be dealing with the aftermath of these events. So many people had their personalities changed and were bound by illusions which messed with their understanding of their own history, and the trauma inflicted here will have long-lasting repercussions.
"Candles and Starlight" is the novella included at the end of SLEEP NO MORE. It follows one of the characters who retained their memories during the illusion because they were too inconvenient to be easily rewritten or put in a new role. It showcases a character who has had a large influence but hasn't yet had much of a voice.
Graphic/Explicit CW for blood, xenophobia, classism.
Moderate CW for gaslighting, bullying, pregnancy, kidnapping, violence, fire/fire injury, injury detail, confinement, emotional abuse, murder, death.
Minor CW for mental illness, infidelity, self harm, genocide, child death, parental death, death.
“Candles and Starlight” - CW for confinement, kidnapping, body horror. Minor CW for torture, child abuse.