Toby Daye is a private investigator. She's also a changeling — daughter of a faerie creature of the Summerlands and a human. A loyal knight, she was investigating the disappearance of her liege's daughter. Her liege's Evil Twin busted her doing it, and the consequences of being caught cost her fourteen years of her life and everything that mattered to her.As a result, Toby cut herself off from dealing with the fae world, and lived as a recluse and hiding her fae appearance under spells and illusions, until another fae, with her dying breath, geased a reluctant Toby via answering machine to solve her murder.This is where the adventure in Rosemary and Rue starts. Toby must return to the fae community to solve the case or literally die trying thanks to the geas. To her astonishment, the fae community is happy to have her back. And once she solves this case, she only finds more to do.So far, the series, written by Hugo Award-winning author Seanan McGuire, comprises:
Rosemary and Rue (September 2009)
A Local Habitation (March 2010)
An Artificial Night (September 2010)
Late Eclipses (March 2011)
One Salt Sea (September 2011)
Ashes of Honor (September 2012)
Chimes at Midnight (September 2013)
The Winter Long (September 2014)
"Rat-Catcher", which focuses on the Tybalt's early history in Londinium, published in A Fantasy Medley 2.
"Through This House", which fills in a few gaps between Late Eclipses and One Salt Sea, published in Home Improvement: Undead Edition. A few fragments have also found their way around.
"In Sea-Salt Tears", a prequel to One Salt Sea, published on McGuire's website.
"Never Shines The Sun", expanding on a story Toby only gets a glimpse of in Chimes At Midnight. It is available only in the paperback edition of Chimes At Midnight. Ebook versions do not (or are not supposed to) contain the short story.
"Forbid the Sea", a sequel to "Rat-Catcher", published on McGuire's website.
McGuire has sold the first ten Toby books. The upcoming ones are:
A Red-Rose Chain
Once Broken Faith
This series provides examples of:
Action Girl: Toby, who repeatedly states that she's uncomfortable when she's unarmed.
Action Mom: Dianda Lorden of Undersea, who's pretty much ready for a fight at a moment's notice. Toby sort of qualifies - she's an action girl and a mother, but after her fourteen-year absence she's no longer a part of her daughter's life.
In Chimes At Midnight Tybalt collapses again and Toby has to make a deal with the Night Haunts to find out how to save him before it's too late.
After-Action Patchup: After landing in ALH through the gate in Ashes of Honor, the first consideration is treating Tybalt's injuries; they talk as they go.
Alien Geometries - Knowes tend to have these. ALH's knowe in particular. Windows look out at different times of day. You can walk down a hall and be three floors higher at the other end than you started.
In the unclaimed areas of the Summerlands, distance isn't always consistent. If you really, really need to get somewhere, then wherever it is you want to go will become closer to you.
Badass Family: Any of the Firstborn, because they're only one remove from Oberon/Titania, Oberon/Maeve, or Oberon/____.
Team Toby. May is technically and legally her sister. Quentin qualifies as her ward. And that is not taking into account Toby's blood relatives: Amandine, and her aunt the Luidaeg, who also now owes Toby a life debt.
Cats Are Magic: Faerie superstition goes that, so long as a cat exists, the memory of the fae will go on.
Cats Are Mean: This is a truism for the entire Cait Sidhe population, if you translate "mean" to indicate "bloodthirsty and dangerous." Their rites of ascension are all barbarous and bloody — a royal kitten is not considered worthy for ascension if they can't hold their own in a fight. That said, individual Cait Sidhe can be as mean or as kind as their inclinations permit. Tybalt, for example, begins the series cold, sarcastic, and aloof, but as he and Toby work together more often and grow closer, she (and the reader) sees that he's actually kind-hearted, affectionate, and honorable.
Cats Are Superior: The entire Cait Sidhe population have smugness as a racial trait, at least this is what Toby thinks when she meets Raj. It might have something to do with them being specifically outside of the political structure that strangles Faerie. There is nothing the royals can actually do to the Cait Sidhe and they are well aware of this detail. "A Cat can look at a king," after all.
Cats Have Nine Lives: One of the boons of being the local King or Queen of cats is more than one life, but not as many as nine. Tybalt doesn't share the exact number.
Character Witness: The cab driver who befriends Toby tells her that her money is no good here due to Toby's having helped his sister. But he also stands as a literal character witness when one of the royals tries to set Toby up in a slanted trial.
Cue the Sun: Played straight and inverted. Fae magic burns away at dawn and spells must be replenished. And certain fae races have things that happen for them at sunset.
Dances and Balls: The Beltane Ball at Shadowed Hills is a plot point in Late Eclipses. According to Toby, Fae parties can last longer than fourteen years.
"The Winter Long" begins with a celebration ball.
Day Hurts Dark-Adjusted Eyes: As the Fae are nocturnal, they often deal poorly with sudden bright light. When Toby is getting over severe iron poisoning after being kept in a pitch-black prison in Late Eclipses, her eyes are extremely sensitive and painful.
Deal with the Devil: Toby's deal with the Luidaeg seemed like one at first, but eventually the Luidaeg asked for a favor in return that left them square.
Amandine is deceptive to Toby and pretty much most of the rest of the faerie about Toby's true bloodlines.
in Ashes of Honor. Bridget is a folklore professor and knows that the father of her child isn't human, but because all she has is folklore, she gets a lot wrong about what he really is. Of course, she passes the wrong info to her child, with the best of intentions and desire to protect.
Disappeared Dad: Mainly because he was unaware of the child's existence, Sir Etienne of Shadowed Hills.
Doppelgänger: Used in Rosemary and Rue: an assassin takes the shape of Toby's now-teenage and very estranged daughter Gillian.
In the third book, Toby meets her fetch, a perfect copy of herself that is supposed to guide her to her death.
Dying Declaration of Love: Tybalt, after just barely surviving an attack on his life, finally tells Toby how he feels about her. But it turns out not to really be a dying declaration as medical attention gets administered shortly thereafter.
Fantastic Drug: Goblin fruit. It's cultivated by purebloods to cause pleasant dreams and a nice distraction from mortals encroaching on the world. But for changelings and humans, it's instantly and unbreakably addictive - until overindulgence or withdrawal kills them.
Fantastic Racism: Changelings are seen as inferior by many pureblood fae, and some of them are very nasty about it. Since October herself is not only a Changeling but the first one to ever be granted a knighthood, this comes up a lot.
The Dryads are all nasty to April because she's a cyber-dryad rather than one tied to a tree.
Fate Worse than Death: Arguably, what happens to everyone who dies at ALH, because their memories aren't preserved by the nighthaunts. January doesn't even get digitized into the computer, so she's the first truly gone fairy in a long time.
Fingore: The kidnapper in One Salt Sea sends one of the victims' fingers to their family.
Fisher King: The knowes reflect the styles of their owners/rulers, and mourn if their owner/ruler is killed.
Subverted with Goldengreen: As of One Salt Sea, Toby regards the pixies and bogeys as the owners of the knowe because the knowe does... and possibly because Toby is a changeling rather than a pureblood. This changes when Dean becomes Count of Goldengreen.
Flower Motifs: Luna gives Connor a basket of love-lies-a-bleeding and love-in-idleness to beg him to love her daughter.
Toby receives a bouquet of blue and white ice roses plus rosebay from someone who is magically bound from speaking as a way of warning her.
Friendship Moment: the Luidaeg has lots of these in book 3, but the ending in particular is a nice one. Ditto book 5.
Gaslighting: In Late Eclipses, Oleander and Rayseline conspire to murder a number of Toby's friends and pin the murders on Toby herself. Part of their plan is to use drugs and illusions to make Toby herself think she's nuts. They almost succeed.
Genre Savvy: Quentin, who knows better than to believe Toby saying "I'll be right back" after May gets him watching horror movies.
Good Scars, Evil Scars: Toby's scars from the bullets with which she was shot during her first adventure are significant in the second, as she draws attention to them to advise her Sidekick that it isn't all fun and games.
Groin Attack: Etienne does this to Dugan the Daoine Sidhe since the latter was holding an iron knife and that meant that all bets were off regarding a fair fight.
Half-Human Hybrid: Also quarter-human, three-quarters-human, five-sixteeths-human... The more human a character is, the less illusion they need to pass themselves off as normal, but the less magical power they possess.
Heroic Sacrifice: Connor the Selkie jumped in front of a projectile meant for October's daughter Gillian.
He's Dead, Jim: The fae don't handle death well, but they can tell when someone's died: "She was cold and didn't respond to us calling her name!"
Honorary Uncle: Toby is "Auntie Birdie" to all of Mitch and Stacy's kids.
Interspecies Romance: Most romances in this series are between different lines of the Fae or between Fae, Changelings, and/or humans. Extra points go to the Lourdens for having a land fae marrying a sea fae.
Mama Bear: Toby. Although Stacy is a mother whose kids are still present, she falls apart when they're endangered. Toby, on the other hand, rushes to the rescue of other people's children (and her own), and Oberon help anything that gets in her way.
The trait runs in the family. In Late Eclipses, we see that Amandine will mess you up if you threaten her child.
Dianda Lorden, who also is an Action Mom, and loves a good fight.
Missing Mom: Toby became one without her consent when she was turned into a fish for 14 years.
Amandine is counted among the missing as well, though she does show up when the chips are down.
Muggles: The humans who wander the world unaware that the faerie are real. Toby worked among them in Rosemary and Rue and stayed in a hotel full of them in A Local Habitation.
Never Say "Die": Played with; the fae, left unmolested, are pretty much immortal. Not so much the changelings. When murder happens, though, among the nobility, there are explicit and elaborate forms full of flowery euphemisms for announcing when someone has died. For brevity, these are sometimes shortened to "(Person) has stopped their dancing."
Oh Crap: Toby gets hit with an evil pie in Chimes at Midnight. Not such an "oh crap" moment by itself, except the filling is instantly and unbreakably addictive; requiring her to eat more or starve to death in withdrawal.
Oh My Gods!: The Fae swear by their sacred trees ("Oak and ash!"), by the names of their progenitors ("Maeve's tits!"), or by other terms sacred to them ("Root and branch!").
Open Sesame: The phrase actually opens one of the doors of Goldengreen in Rosemary and Rue.
Pink Elephants: Toby hopes that a shrieking mermaid in a wheelchair will be taken for this, rather than a sign of the existence of Faerie.
Powered by a Forsaken Child: Subverted. April is ALH's intercom system. She was a dryad who lost her tree, so they worked her into the circuitry of a server to save her.
The endangered child in Ashes of Honor is pretty much used as a generator for teleportation magic to the point of being used up.
Power Nullifier: Mixed up by Walther for Toby in Book 6 in case it worked on the child Toby was hired to find. Unfortunately, due to extreme injury, Toby didn't get to tell anyone that there was a counteragent to it that could be used within a certain time limit for anyone who got the nullifier on them besides the target. Whoops.
Releasing from the Promise: Toby knows that if she asked Sylvester to release her from fealty to him, he'd do so. She'd never ask.
Reluctant Ruler: According to some of the fae history unearthed in Toby's adventures, many of the Kings and Queens of the fae were unwilling to rise to the positions of power they ended up in due to the tendency of royalty to be assassinated by others who want the throne. Most recently this is true for the true heir to the Kingdom of the Mists, who has been terrorized all her life by the pretender to the throne.
Royals Who Actually Do Something: Sylvester and Luna Torquill, the Lordens, Toby as well, after she gets a title, and Quentin, who it turns out is the Crown Prince of the whole western hemisphere. The Torquills in particular have a 100% Adoration Rating and are very active in running their Duchy.
Rule of Seven: Brought up as the length of time it took for Toby to be declared dead. Interestingly, she was gone as a fish 14 (twice seven) years. It is also the amount of time in the mundane world that many legalities recognize as having had to pass before someone is declared legally dead.
Star-Crossed Lovers: Pureblood and human relationships are almost always star-crossed. Toby refers to this as the "faerie bride" act, and notes that it never ends well.
Supernatural Phone: The landlines and cellphones owned by the faerie are all magicked for privacy and to work under odd magical conditions where technology ordinarily would not function, generally by the folks at ALH Computing.
Talk About the Weather: Toby tries this on Tybalt in Ashes of Honor. It's about as effective as such conversational gambits usually are.
Talking in Your Dreams: An oneiromancer power. Toby swiftly grows used to dream-visits by Karen after the latter is revealed as an Oneiromancer in An Artificial Night.
Teleportation: The province of the Tuatha De Danaan, though several other types of fae have the ability to some extent.
Temporal Theme Naming: So far, in addition to October, we've seen a January, an April, a May, and a June. January and April are related by adoption. May was originally October's Fetch. In the third book, Lily comments, "Whatever will we do when the months of the year are used entirely?" Word of God says that in Faerie, it's rude to name someone directly after someone else, but honoring somebody by using a name with a related meaning is acceptable. October's name is somehow connected with September Torquill, January's mother.
Gillian means "July". Word of God says this is deliberate.
Let's not forget Evening Winterrose.
Who had a sister named Dawn.
The Older Immortal: The Luidaeg - and pretty much any other Firstborn. Toby comments in one book about the inadvisability of taunting someone who has firsthand experience of continental drift.
Think Nothing of It: As Faerie thinks of thanks as implying further obligation from the party receiving the thanks, anything that even smacks of gratitude gets this from the fae; the only exception is in the case where there's already a bond of fealty between the two parties.
Tybalt has a number of nicknames for Toby, several of which she hates, but only calls her October when he's very worried about her.
You Have Failed Me: Played with. Overdramatic Etienne, wracked with guilt over a slip of discretion during Toby's missing years makes him feel this way, although Sylvester Torquill is one of the kindest, nicest, and most forgiving of the fae — and that's saying a lot given how nasty most of the powerful ones are.
You Must Be Cold: Six pages into A Local Habitation, Tybalt lends Toby his leather jacket because "You look cold." As of the end of Late Eclipses, three books later, she still has it. Tybalt goes off with it and then returns it via May in One Salt Sea.
Yandere: Simon could be seen as a non-romantic one for Toby. His ideas for protecting her including turning her into a fish and trying to turn her into a tree