My book-loving mom has stopped by for a guest review!
This has been on my “want to read” list since Anya requested it for Christmas, but I was holding off to let her do the honors … and then let me borrow her copy. (It pays to be a member of a bookish family.) But, when I had a long wait at the San Francisco airport, I treated myself to a browse through one of its many bookstores: Books, Inc. Much to my amazement, they not only had a scifi/fantasy section, they had a GOOD one, and I snatched up a couple of paperbacks to read during the long trek back to the book desert of SE Wisconsin.
I had expected a light, easy read in the classic “elves and magic” vein and got a much better-written and fresh story in the urban fantasy genre than I ever expected. And the fact that it is set in San Fran – which I was just leaving – made it all that more fun for me. By the end of the book, I was at that perfect point where I had enjoyed a good story but wanted to know what happens next in the life of its spunky protagonist.
Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire (October Daye #1)on September 1st, 2009
Genres: Adult, Urban Fantasy
Page Length: 346 pages
How I got my copy: Purchased
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October "Toby" Daye, a changeling who is half human and half fae, has been an outsider from birth. After getting burned by both sides of her heritage, Toby has denied the Faerie world, retreating to a "normal" life. Unfortunately for her, the Faerie world has other ideas...
The murder of Countess Evening Winterrose pulls Toby back into the fae world. Unable to resist Evening's dying curse, which binds her to investigate, Toby must resume her former position as knight errant and renew old alliances. As she steps back into fae society, dealing with a cast of characters not entirely good or evil, she realizes that more than her own life will be forfeited if she cannot find Evening's killer.
- I love the protagonist, October Daye. She’s just the right mix of tough and vulnerable that I like in urban fantasy. A bit of an underdog who has serious teeth when she chooses to use them, much like Harry Dresden.
- The supporting characters of Rosemary and Rue have a delightful complexity about them although many of them are straight out of the classic structure of an urban fantasy. McGuire makes them each individuals, however, and I hope many of them will grace the pages of future novels.
- Magic is not a solution to every problem, but the villains don’t have to be drawn unbelievably tough in order to give the hero a run for her money. Take a traditional murder mystery and add shapeshifters and magic and voila, you have the world of Rosemary and Rue.
- The parallel world hidden from human eyes is populated with all of the classic beastiaries of all the myths ever written, although vampires and werewolves are blissfully not present in Rosemary and Rue. This is more an urban fantasy inspired by Shakespeare than Bram Stoker.
- I was tempted to give it 4.5 stars and then started thinking of a few things that bothered me. Like the heroine going home to an old and abusive boyfriend. While it doesn’t last long, it’s part of a pattern that I see played out in too many books with otherwise strong female leads. Like a bad slasher flick, I start trying to tell the heroine, “Don’t trust him and certainly don’t go back to him!” But they don’t listen any better than the teens who run off alone into the dark woods do….
- A common trope in modern fairy tales is that nothing comes without a price among magical creatures, but by the end of the book I was getting weary of October’s constant need to bargain for help and her reluctance to accept help when offered freely by friends.
- The complex backstory had me searching several times to see if there was a previous book. October’s misfortunes of a past decade didn’t really have much relevance to this story – plenty happened to her to leave her with emotional scars to make her a hardened gumshoe. The event at the beginning of the story does not really seem necessary considering she’d been abandoned by her mother, kicked out of Summerland, and ended up living on the streets with a modern day Fagin. How many neuroses does a tragic figure actually need??
Like many books I like, the sum is greater than the parts. I really enjoyed Rosemary and Rue, despite some of the things that bother me about it in retrospect. I’m looking forward to reading more of the October Daye series. Maybe October will be the bookend to Harry Dresden?
Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire
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