Most of Toby's stories drop you into the action and feed you necessary bits of exposition as they barrel along.
This book takes the time to introduce you to the world setting, and in that marks a note of gravity and weight that has been absent at the start of the stories, but has always lain lurking. In that, the novel starts off feeling like we've reached a new step, gone past some point of no return in both Toby's life and in Faerie itself. Fitting, since ina the author's own words, Toby is starting to pay off debts created five or six books ago.
We know something is coming, hints have been dropped and there's the looming matter of Toby's debts to the Luideag. Matters which were both brought starkly to light in Once Broken Faith when Luideag mentions it would take too long to replace Toby, and then later when she saves Tybalt's life. But much of that is for a yet later story.
Meanwhile this is Seanan McGuire's writing, so we'll get that wry humor that infuses all of her stories. It's not all blood and desperate magic. I mean, the first chapter features the Luideag singing karaoke at Toby's Bachelorette party. But a bleakness grips the narrative as Toby tackles a deeply personal challenge, one that puts her loved ones in peril, forces her to work with the man who's been her nightmare, and shines a glaring spotlight on the chasm between Toby and Amandine.
A rich, personal, and compelling continuation of the story. Highly recommend.
Advance Reader Copy courtesy of Daw (Penguin RandomHouse) in exchange for an honest review; changes may exist between galley and the final edition.