I am a pretty obsessive-compulsive reader, perhaps in other things as well but particularly reading. I read things in sets, taking what comes. Sometimes these sets don't hang together so well, or lead me directions I don't want to go, and I agonize over changing them. That's the obsessive part.
And so it went with In Sea-Salt Tears. I normally like to read stories in a series in the order they were written, and will make a point to try and catch up a series if a later novel is nominated for one of the awards I follow. I did this for the Vorkosigan Saga, and also for Game of Thrones.
So I found that In Sea-Salt Tears was nominated for a Hugo, and went looking for a legal free version. The story is self-published by McGuire, in this case meaning that she is giving it away. A good practice for award nominees, I think. I don't usually catch up a series in order to read a short story--I didn't do this for Lawrence Schoen's Buffalito series, the latest of which was nominated for a Nebula this year and thus I read it. But McGuire clearly states that her entry will make more sense if you have read the novels that come before it--the October Daye series, five of them. My local library has them, but they look pretty much like YA novels aimed at 14 year old girls. And the series started out a bit spotty, according to reviewers. So in the end, I decided to just read her nominated story, and see if I feel like catching the series up.
I liked the story. It stands alone reasonably well as a tale and is deserving of the nomination, though I don't think it will win. Her tone is very different from when she is writing as Mira Grant, which shows her range. As a romance and a scene-setter it does just fine, though like her zombie novels it is in a crowded space. But I don't think I'll go read the rest of the series just for this story. If one of the October Daye novels gets nominated for a Big Three award later, I'll read them all. 3 stars from me.