I have just finished the first three “October Daye” novels by Seanan McGuire. October “Toby” Daye is a changeling-half human and half fae. When we meet her in Rosemary and Rue, we barely get to know her before she is turned into a Koi and lives in a koi-pond for fourteen years. Thus do we learn that life is hard for a changeling detective/knight errant. With each book in the series, I could see McGuire gaining in craftsmanship (it starts out at a high level). She artfully brings us into the world of the Fae and mortal San Francisco in the 21st century.
After her stay in the pond, Toby struggles to re-find her place in society and among her friends. Each book takes the form of a problem/mystery that Toby must solve. This is complicated by the fact that Toby’s essential fae nature really prevents her from doing many things that may seem obvious to the reader. She is subject to bindings and orders from the more powerful pure-bred Fae and the overall laws that govern relationships and actions within the world. For a simple example, Fae can not say thank you to one another.
At times, it seems that Toby is overlooking solutions to problems and causing herself more difficulty. For example, in “A Local Habitation”, she could have just asked some questions upon meeting the group of Fae she is investigating and that would have saved her a world of pain. However, her nature as a changeling and her interaction with the others prevents her from this simple path. Looking on Goodreads, I see that a number of people don’t see this essential characteristic and take it as willful stupidity on Toby’s part. I don’t think that is the case here–McGuire is being subtle and obeying rules that only gradually come out.
The world and the stories are very enjoyable to read and discover. Have fun!