An Artificial Night is the third book in the October Daye series. The book opens on a humorous note, with Toby attempting to wrangle a horde of Corgi sized barghests. Barghests are canine fae creatures, which are equipped with scorpion tails, and they have apparently invaded the hall of one of the local faerie nobles. (The person helping her at the time decides he wants to adopt them.)
She manages to finish the job in time to go to the birthday party of a friend’s child. Events take a downward and horrific turn from there, as Toby must find a way to rescue mortal and fae children kidnapped by a being known as “Blind Michael,” who has stolen them to be riders (and mounts) for his Wild Hunt. (I think this is the third book I have read this year using the Wild Hunt as a major motif.)
Toby is alerted to the case when the children of a friend are kidnapped. A short time later Tybalt, the King of the Cats comes to Toby with the news that children from his Court have also been kidnapped. She discovers that the culprit is Blind Michael, an extremely powerful “Firstborn” faerie who turns up every hundred years to kidnap children to turn into his Riders. Blind Michael is so powerful and so dangerous no one has been able to do anything to stop him, but of course, this won’t stop Toby from trying, even if May Daye, October’s Fetch has shown up to foretell Toby’s death.
This story was a strange blend of humor and horror carefully balanced to keep the horror scary and disturbing and the humor funny…and also disturbing. I really liked the introduction of May, who despite being a supernatural forecaster of death, is forced to help Toby with her case. While there were some clever and entertaining moments, I did not like this book as much as I liked the previous too. I felt too much like the action was being bounced from point a to b, and there was not a lot of character development. In addition, I felt a little uncomfortable with the resolution of a romance arc hinted at in the previous novel. I felt it would have had more of an impact if we had actually seen the actual relationship instead of just the trauma. (There is a recurring theme of “just wipe their memories and move on” in the series I find a little disturbing, even if it does show up in urban faerie novels and other urban fantasies where the “magical” world is kept a secret from the “ordinary” world.)