An artificial night bk.., p.1
An Artificial Night - BK 3, p.1Seanan McGuire
Table of Contents
Praise for the October Daye Novels
“Rosemary and Rue will surely appeal to readers who enjoy my books, or those of Patricia Briggs.”
“The brisk pacing, the effective mix of human and magical characters, and the PI ambience all make this an excellent choice for fans of Butcher’s Harry Dresden series. . . . Toby’s unusual heritage and her uneasy relationships with her mother’s family will remind readers of Brigg’s Mercy Thompson series, and Thompson fans will appreciate Toby’s tough and self-reliant character. This outstanding first novel is a must for fans of genre-bending blends of crime and fantasy.”
—Booklist starred review
“McGuire successfully blends Robert B. Parker-like detective fiction with love and loss, faith and betrayal—and plenty of violence. . . . Rosemary and Rue will have readers clamoring for the next genre-bending installment.”
“Well researched, sharply told, highly atmospheric and as brutal as any pulp detective tale . . . sure to appeal to fans of Jim Butcher or Kim Harrison.”
“October Daye is as gritty and damaged a heroine as Kinsey Millhone or Kay Scarpetta . . . an engaging narrator who promises to sustain as long a series as McGuire might wish to write. . . . Toby’s nocturnal existence is full of the kind of shadows that keep the pages turning. Changelings, like all faerie folk, live long; may McGuire and these novels do the same.”
—The Onion A.V. Club
DAW Books Presents Seanan McGuire’s October Daye Novels:
ROSEMARY AND RUE
A LOCAL HABITATION
AN ARTIFICIAL NIGHT
*Coming March 2011 from DAW
Copyright © 2010 by Seanan McGuire.
All Rights Reserved.
Interior dingbat created by Tara O’Shea.
DAW Book Collectors No. 1523.
DAW Books are distributed by Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
All characters and events in this book are fictitious.
Any resemblance to persons living or dead is strictly coincidental.
eISBN : 978-1-101-44276-0
The scanning, uploading and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal, and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage the electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.
Nearly all the designs and trade names in this book are registered trademarks. All that are still in commercial use are protected by United States and international trademark law.
First Printing, September 2010
DAW TRADEMARK REGISTERED
U.S. PAT. AND TM. OFF. AND FOREIGN COUNTRIES
HECHO EN U.S.A.
An Artificial Night is the third of Toby’s adventures, and by the time I reached it, I had a decent idea of what I was doing . . . or so I thought, before I was tackled by the fine members of the Machete Squad, who beat some sense into me and some awesome into the book. Big thanks go to every one of them for their tireless labors. Special thanks on this volume go to Deborah Brannon, Mia Nutick, Michelle McNeill, and Jeanne Goldfein, all of whom helped immensely with the process of hacking my way down into Blind Michael’s lands. Mary Crowell took me down the scarecrow trail to show me a few things I’d missed when I was walking on my own, and Rebecca Newman was glorious, as always. A great deal of detail came from long discussions with Meg Creel-man, who was a fantastic help. I couldn’t have done it without all of them.
Chris Mangum and Tara O’Shea made sure my web-site was as awesome and low-stress as possible, thus allowing me to stress out over other things, like what my cats were doing. My agent, Diana Fox, was supportive and clever in all the best ways—it’s good to have a superhero in your corner—while my editor, Sheila Gilbert, was a joy to work with. Marsha Jones and Joshua Starr at DAW answered my endless questions about this and the books before it, and made the process much closer to painless than it could have been. Here on the home front, Kate Secor, Michelle Dockrey, Brooke Lunderville, and Amy McNally kept me from losing my mind, and made the book better at the same time. Finally, a big, big thanks to Betsy Tinney, who rescued me from an emergency kitten shortage when she provided my latest family member, a blue classic tabby and white Maine Coon named Alice.
My personal soundtrack while writing An Artificial Night consisted mostly of Archetype Cafe, by Talis Kimberley, Thirteen, by Vixy and Tony, Seven is the Number, by Dave Carter and Tracy Grammer, and Films About Ghosts, by the Counting Crows. Any errors in this book are entirely my own. The errors that aren’t here are the ones that all these people helped me fix.
Now breath in deep, and keep hold of your candle. It’s a long way from here to Babylon.
All pronunciations are given strictly phonetically. This only covers races explicitly named in the first three books.
Bannick: ban-nick. Plural is Bannicks.
Banshee: ban-shee. Plural is Banshees.
Barghest: bar-guy-st. Plural is Barghests.
Barrow Wight: bar-row white. Plural is Barrow Wights.
Blodynbryd: blow-din-brid. Plural is Blodynbryds.
Cait Sidhe: kay-th shee. Plural is Cait Sidhe.
Candela: can-dee-la. Plural is Candela.
Coblynau: cob-lee-now. Plural is Coblynau.
Cornish Pixie: Corn-ish pix-ee. Plural is Cornish Pixies.
Daoine Sidhe: doon-ya shee. Plural is Daoine Sidhe, diminutive is Daoine.
Djinn: jin. Plural is Djinn.
Ellyllon: el-lee-lawn. Plural is Ellyllons.
Gean-Cannah: gee-ann can-na. Plural is Gean-Cannah.
Glastig: glass-tig. Plural is Glastigs.
Gwragen: guh-war-a-gen. Plural is Gwargen.
Hamadryad: ha-ma-dry-add. Plural is Hamadryads.
Hippocampus: hip-po-cam-pus. Plural is Hippocampi.
Hob: hob. Plural is Hobs.
Kelpie: kel-pee. Plural is Kelpies.
Kitsune: kit-soo-nay. Plural is Kitsune.
Lamia: lay-me-a. Plural is Lamia.
The Luidaeg: the lou-sha-k. No plural exists.
Manticore: man-tee-core. Plural is Manticores.
Naiad: nigh-add. Plural is Naiads.
Nixie: nix-ee. Plural is Nixen.
Peri: pear-ee. Plural is Peri.
Piskie: piss-key. Plural is Piskies.
Pixie: pix-ee. Plural is
Puca: puh-ca. Plural is Pucas.
Roane: row-n. Plural is Roane.
Selkie: sell-key. Plural is Selkies.
Silene: sigh-lean. Plural is Silene.
Swanmay: swan-may. Plural is Swanmays.
Tuatha de Dannan: tootha day danan. Plural is Tuatha de Dannan, diminutive is Tuatha.
Tylwyth Teg: till-with teeg. Plural is Tylwyth Teg, diminutive is Tylwyth.
Undine: un-deen. Plural is Undine.
Urisk: you-risk. Plural is Urisk.
Will o’ Wisps: will-oh wisps. Plural is Will o’ Wisps.
September 7th, 2014
Away from light steals home my heavy son
And private in his chamber pens himself,
Shuts up his windows, locks fair daylight out,
And makes himself an artificial night.
—William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet
ONE THING I’VE LEARNED IN MY TIME working as a private investigator-slash-knight errant for the fae community of the San Francisco Bay Area: if something looks like it’s going to be simple, it probably won’t be. Some people might consider that an easy lesson. I must be a slow learner because it’s been anything but easy. I’ve been turned into a fish, cursed, nearly drowned, impersonated, slashed, shot at, and had my car blown up—thankfully not while I was inside it, although it was a close call—and now I was chasing Barghests around Dame Eloise Altair’s feast hall, trying not to get myself hurt. Also not easy.
“Toby! Duck!” Danny didn’t sound particularly worried. Danny’s also a pureblood Bridge Troll, which means he has skin that’s as hard as granite and twice as difficult to damage. As a half-breed Daoine Sidhe, I’m a lot easier to hurt.
A Barghest sailed overhead, impacting the wall with a pained thump. Barghests are nasty semi-canine monsters with horns, retractable claws, and venomous stingers in their scorpion tails, but there’s one thing they don’t have: wings. I glanced over my shoulder long enough to confirm that the thing hadn’t been killed by impact—it was still twitching, which made death seem unlikely—before turning to wrinkle my nose at Danny.
“Changeling, remember? Can you at least try not to hurl spiky critters at my head?”
“Sure thing,” said Danny blithely. Too blithely. In my experience, people who sound that calm about requests that they not throw things have no intention of changing their behavior.
My name is October Daye; my friends call me Toby, largely because it’s difficult to call a cranky brunette changeling with a knife October and get away with it. And this is not the way I usually prefer to spend my Saturday nights.
Every private investigator gets her share of weird calls, and the fact that I’m the only fae PI in the Kingdom means I wind up with more than most. Even worse, most of the weird calls come from the local nobility, which means I can’t turn them down. Lucky me. I shouldn’t complain. Work is work, and playing whack-a-mole with Barghests in Dame Altair’s feast hall was better than going back to checking bags at the grocery store. Not that the grocery store was likely to rehire me, considering that I’d abandoned my job without warning when a friend of mine went and got herself murdered over ownership of a legendary fae artifact. Not the sort of thing I could explain to human resources. Stress on the “human.”
Changelings rarely do well in jobs with fixed, dependable hours. We get that from the fae side of the family, while the human side makes us too stubborn not to try.
Dame Altair called on Monday to report that “something” was trashing her pantry, frightening her staff, and generally making life more complicated than she wanted it to be. By Wednesday, I knew that we were dealing with a Barghest infestation. I could try to claim the discovery was solely due to my awesome investigative skills, but that wouldn’t be entirely accurate. The truth was, I stepped on one while I was searching the place.
The fact that it was “just” Barghests was a relief—for me, anyway. It could have been a lot worse. Dame Altair didn’t seem particularly relieved, but they were nesting on her property, and that probably made them a lot more annoying. I explained the situation, requested the necessary supplies, and called Danny.
Danny McReady possesses a lot of positive qualities if you ignore his tendency to chuck Barghests at my head, but when it comes to monster hunting, “practically indestructible” is the one that counts. He’s also a San Francisco taxi driver, which leaves him with a lot of pent-up aggression. The chance to spend the night playing whack-a-mole with Barghests was too much to pass up.
Dame Altair had evacuated the knowe by the time Danny showed up. We grabbed the enchanted rowan-wood crates she’d provided for us to stuff them into, paused while I pulled on my gloves, and marched back inside to deal with things.
There were a lot of things to deal with. Barghests breed about once a century, and like many of Faerie’s more monstrous denizens, they balance a high mortality rate with a necessarily high birthrate. I’d counted at least eight before I gave up and asked the Dame for a bunch of boxes. She thought I was insane for not wanting to kill them on the spot, but even Barghests have a right to live. Just not in Dame Altair’s feast hall.
Where we were actually going to put them was a problem for later; the problem for now was catching them without being seriously injured in the process. They were only pups, about the size of corgis. They were still equipped with multiple ways of killing a person, and they were absolutely not interested in coming quietly.
“This is the sort of thing I mean.” One of the Barghests was chewing on Danny’s leg, probably hurting itself in the process. “I ask what you’re doing on a Saturday night, and you say ‘hunting Barghests.’ Forgive me for nagging, but you should maybe try getting a social life.”
“I’m getting paid to be here, remember?” Another Barghest charged me with its tail raised in strike position. I parried with my butterfly net, almost managing to catch it before it popped its claws and ripped through half the mesh. Swearing, I tried to net the thing again before I added, “Besides, I have a birthday party to go to after this.”
“The Brown kid, right?”
“Yeah.” Mitch and Stacy’s youngest son, Andrew, was turning four. “I promised to make it in time for cake.”
“You’ll make it.”
“Starting to have my doubts,” I muttered. One of the Barghests was slinking on its belly to my right. I leaned over, whapped it on the head with my net, and swept it into the first box. “Get that closed!”
“Got it.” Danny plucked the Barghest off his leg, bowling it into the box after its sibling before slamming the lid. “That’s two. I’m just saying you could benefit by going out sometimes. Live a little. In ways that don’t involve maybe making yourself dead.”
“But I’m so good at maybe making myself dead.” I whacked another Barghest. “I wouldn’t have taken this job if I’d known it was going to mean playing with poisonous things. Dame Altair thought the pantries were emptying due to theft.”
“Well, they kinda were.” Two more Barghests were industriously worrying Danny’s ankles. A wide smile split his craggy face. “Aw, look at the cute little guys.”
“They’re poisonous monstrosities, Danny. That’s not ‘cute.’”I swung at another Barghest. It scuttled backward, barking at me.
“You get to keep that spiky thing, I get to think Barghests are cute,” he replied philosophically and scooped up both Barghests, cradling them. “You think Her Ladyship would mind if I took one or two of ’em home?”
“Spike’s a rose goblin,” I said sharply. “That’s different.”
“Maybe from where you’re sitting.”
I groaned, swatting another Barghest and sweeping it into a box before it could sting me. “There isn’t a Barghest rescue society. I don’t think Dame Altair is going to care what we do with them as long as they’re gone when we’re done here.”
“Good,” said Danny, dropping his two into a box and sealing it. “I’m taking
“What?” I turned to stare at him, sidestepping a Barghest intent on mauling my shins. “How many?”
“All of them.” He grabbed another one. It twisted in his hands, ramming its stinger against his shoulder. He smiled indulgently. “I think he likes me.”
“Danny . . .”
“I’ll only keep a couple. If there’s no rescue group, somebody’s gotta look out for the little guys.” He dropped the Barghest he was holding into a box, ignoring its ongoing attempts to sting him. “How about this: instead of splittin’ the fee, you pay for my help by letting me take the Barghests.”
“And here I thought my money wasn’t any good with you.”
“Poisonous monstrosities aren’t money.”
I had to laugh at that. “You win.” We’d somehow managed to stun and capture the entire litter without serious injury. Putting my net down on the floor, I turned to peer at the boxes. “Looks like fourteen of them. They’re not happy.”
“You wouldn’t be either,” he said. “What do you think happened to their mama?” Barghests are notoriously protective of their young. A litter without a mother almost certainly meant something had gone wrong.
“Poison and claws don’t protect you from becoming roadkill,” I said. Barghests had an unfortunate tendency to play in traffic. Thankfully the night-haunts were always there to clean up the mess before the humans saw. “She’s lucky she stowed them here, even if they did manage to cause a lot of damage before Dame Altair called me.”
“It’s a whole new world,” he said sadly. There was no way I could argue with that.
A few millennia ago, when Faerie was still in its ascendancy, creatures like the Barghests would have roamed the moors, not afraid of anything but hunting parties and bigger predators. Things have changed since then. With Faerie in hiding and more of her creatures becoming extinct every year, the Barghests were probably lucky to have been captured. At least with Danny looking out for them, they might stand a chance.
An Artificial Night - BK 3 by Seanan McGuire / Horror / Fantasy have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes