Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire
Author: Seanan McGuire
Series: October Daye #1
Release Date: September 1, 2009
Dates Read: April 28-May 1, 2012
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 admit that I wanted to like this book a little more than I did. Seanan McGuire is the true face of pseudonym Mira Grant, writer of the Newsflesh trilogy. Mira Grant wrote two of my favorite books (Feed and Deadline), and I figured starting her urban fantasy series would be a good way to pass the time until Blackout releases May 8. While I generally liked Rosemary and Rue, I feel that it didn’t quite live up to the admittedly very high expectations I had in mind.
Don’t get me wrong — Rosemary and Rue is a good book. My favorite thing about the novel is the rich mythology it brings to the table. Instead of choosing, like some authors, to only go with a select few types of fae, or to not explain the differences between them, McGuire sets up a world chock full of different varieties of faeries, hailing from many different backgrounds. Each type of faeries in this world has their own inner circle, their own abilities, their own temperaments. Add in the differences between the changlelings and the purebloods, and you’ve got another layer of complexity. These delineations, along with the complex societal mores of the faeries living in (or not quite in, as it were) San Francisco, makes for complex, detailed world-building. I salute McGuire for the research she must have done to pull this off, and for tailoring the myths together in a way that just works.
I also liked the protagonist and the characters around her. October tries to be tough, but life keeps handing her the short end of the stick. I think she does well considering the situations she is thrown into. I also appreciate her witty narrative touches. Tybalt was one of my other favorite characters, but perhaps I’m biased, me being a cat person and him being Cait Sidhe. I liked trying to figure the other characters out. For the majority of the story, October has been out of the faerie scene for quite a while, so it is realistic that we don’t know everything about the characters or their current motives. The mystery and thrilling elements of the story are generally well set up and effective. I guessed the identity of the person behind the murder before our heroine, but I didn’t really mind it.
So why didn’t I love the book? That’s a hard question to answer. To put it simply, I felt that Rosemary and Rue just lacked that special something, that oomph factor that made me fall in love with the Newsflesh novels. I would still recommend it to fans of urban fantasy, particularly those with an interest in faerie mythology and mysteries. I think my high expectations kept me from liking the novel as much as I would otherwise. I will very likely check out the next novel in the series, to see if the series picks up for me.