Reviewed: February 28, 2010
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: October Daye, Book 1
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Length: 346 Pages
Formats: Print, eBook
Let me start by saying that while I'm a huge fan of urban fantasy, I tend to steer clear of those which deal with the myriad incarnations of fae mythos. Mostly because they make my brain hurt. I'm not sure why, really, but between the gaelic/celtic pronunciations that frustrate the heck out of me, and the often widely disparate mythology with the same characters (Titiana, Oberon, Mab, Maeve, etc.) and species (Keltie, Selkie, Nix, Pixie, etc.), varying book to book, I often feel like I missed a Tuatha Dé Danann class in college and I don't have the necessary literary intelligence to measure the wheat from the chaff. I hate that. So imagine my surprise when I realized about half way through Rosemary and Rue that despite some of that same feeling of intellectual inferiority as I was trying to wrap my mind around the courts, knowes, and territories of the various species of fae in this book, I was actually really liking what I was reading.
And I have to say, anyone who writes a book on fae mythos and keeps track of all of it while doing so earns my respect. Sheesh, corporate finance is less complicated. And less hazardous to your health.
In Rosemary and Rue, the changling (half fae, half human) October "Toby" Daye is conscripted into service by the full blood fae Countess Evening Winterrose to find the people responsible for her brutal death. Evening lays a curse on Toby to force her compliance, leaving it on her answering machine just prior to her death. Toby, who'd been avoiding all things fae since her private investigation into the abduction of her Liege's wife and child fourteen years earlier ended in her being turned into a fish and caused the loss of her fiance and child, has to renew old acquaintances, stir the fires of old loves and hates, and ask the very people she's been avoiding since her return to her own form for help. All while dodging iron bullets and doppelgangers and trying not to get dead.
Seanan McGuire has penned a complex character in October Daye, one that is both flawed and sympathetic. Full of issues about her changling status and the diabolical nature of fae society, trusting no one, and still reeling with the failure on her last job and all that she's lost, she's a not always pleasant mix of insecurity and fear but she's got a good heart and she tries to do right by her word and the rules of both sides of her heritage. She just has a nasty habit of almost dying in the process.
I enjoyed the story here, as well as the characters, and while the whodunit aspect was perhaps not too much of a surprise by the time the big reveal came, the plucky perseverance of Toby and the fabric of the stories of the people and creatures connected to her (like her liege, the Duke of the Shadowed Hills and his kitsune wife and psychotic daughter, the Cait Sidhe Tybalt, Lily, even the little feline-like golem Spike) drives the book and grounds it in emotionally satisfying ways, leaving the reader with a much clearer view of the inhabitants of this series and of Toby's life.
I'd rate Rosemary and Rue 4.5 stars, mostly because all that fae stuff really does make my brain hurt, and the whodunit could've been a bit more of a surprise, but I've already pre-ordered the second book in the series A Local Habitation: An October Daye Novel, and I look forward to reading more of Toby's hair-raising adventures.
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