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Late Eclipses starts with a shopping trip, followed by the Queen summoning Toby to her Court, where Toby is given the title of Countess. Then a dream warning from Karen, the child of one of Toby’s friends alerts her to the presence of Oleander de Merelands, the woman who had helped Duke Sylvester’s brother in the kidnapping of his wife and daughter (a kidnapping that Toby had been unable to prevent and which had resulted in her literally sleeping with the fishes).
When Lily, and then Luna fall ill to a mysterious illness, Toby suspects foul play and the presence of Oleander. Unfortunately, Toby has no proof and certain parties would prefer to blame Toby for the illnesses. Among those parties are the Queen and Luna’s extremely insane daughter Raysel. In fact, both are downright eager to make arrangements to have her executed in the ugliest fashion possible.
Things get worse and much more complicated when Tybalt, the King of the Cats comes to her for help–it appears that his Court has also been poisoned. Toby has to rely on help from her friends and her also not very sane mother Amadine in order to track down Oleander, who seems to have a personal grudge against Toby and her mother.
Late Eclipses is full of tension that keeps getting piled on as the situation slides into chaos and betrayal. Toby’s situation and the way it kept getting more difficult created a claustrophobic atmosphere that didn’t let up even when she began to make headway in figuring out what was going on. We get some information about Toby and her mother that in some hands might have made Toby seem like a Mary Sue, but McGuire manages to avoid this by creating situations where Toby just barely survives whatever just happened to her.
I am curious about the odd developing relationship between Tybalt and Toby, and the relationship between Connor (who had a relationship with Toby prior to his relationship with Raysel). This would normally make me suspect a romance due to the way that so many urban fantasies in recent years have actually been paranormal romance, but there is something too complicated and organic about Tybalt’s relationship with Toby and with Toby’s relationship with Connor. It seems unscripted, messy, and confusing, and there is no sense that there is any rivalry between the male characters. (Nor is there any indication that Toby is mooning over either of them. Instead, she is baffled by the mixed messages from Tybalt and she is trying very hard to keep things professional with Connor. I find this to be extremely refreshing because I am getting truly sick of the Contrived Romance Love Triangle.)
I enjoyed this book a lot more than I had An Artificial Night. The pacing was very fast and the tension was constant to the point I had trouble putting the book down. I was very much invested in the characters and finding out what was going on. I really liked the development of May’s character and Toby’s interactions with her. I’m hoping we find out in the next book about some of the things that Oleander was hinting at during her interactions with Toby.