Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire (Review by kiwigirlreads)

Fate and the world of Faerie have not been kind to changeling, October ‘Toby’ Daye. While chasing down the people who kidnapped her liege’s wife and daughter Toby was turned into a fish and has spent the last fourteen years living in a Koi pond.

Finally free of the enchantment Toby wakes to find the world has moved on – her friends, family, home and job have all been lost to her. Understandably Toby has had enough of 'Faerie'; she chooses to avoid it and is living a ‘normal’ life in the human world, working a dead-end job and getting by as best she can.

However as much as she tries Toby is far from normal, she is half Fae, and when an old friend is murdered horrifically, Toby is unwillingly pulled back into the world she tried to leave. Bound by a dying curse, Toby must find the killer or be destroyed herself. Toby’s investigation will bring her to old acquaintances, both good and bad and new ones who have yet to be determined.

Before too long Toby’s life is in peril and she will have to dig deep inside to find the strength to trust again and the will to put everything on the line to find the truth and survive it.

What I thought:

Rosemary and Rue is a well crafted, whimsical and witty murder mystery, it’s also an interesting story that will keep you guessing right up to the very end. The story is well written and along with the main murder mystery there are elements of political intrigue, loves, hates and jealousies that are woven seamlessly into the plot. The author uses lots of faerie folklore and puts her own spin on it where needed, she seems knowledgeable about her subject and I have no issues with authors using traditional ideas and making them suit the needs of their story.

This novel has some solid world building going on, there are lots of places and characters that need to be described. The story is set in San Francisco but in a world where the faerie realm is hidden right alongside the human one. I think the author has done well to put the two together and make them work in harmony; you get a real sense of the city and of that fact that goblins and faeries might be lurking right around the corner.

Toby is an interesting albeit flawed character; she is strong, courageous, and capable but also full of anger, regret and self doubt. She has been hurt in the past and is emotionally shut off. She resents being forced to do something that she probably would have done anyway and knows that although she cannot find the killer alone there are not many people that she can fully trust.

As a mortal changeling Toby does not have much power nor much of a standing in Faerie Society. I liked that she knows her limitations and deals with it in a matter of fact way. It means that she has to rely on other things like her wits and her friends to help her. I enjoyed that Toby did not have much power as it made a bit of a change from your usual uber-powerful heroines.

Toby’s world is populated by many other characters, mainly from European folklore but there is also some from further afield. There are some great characters that Toby renews her friendships with or meets along the way .The supporting cast is big but well written and there are some great characters and dynamics that it will be interesting to watch develop over the next few books.

There were a few small things that detract from the overall flow of the book but most of this we can put down to the fact that this is Seanan McGuire’s first novel. In saying that it was pretty minimal, so don’t let it put you off.

One thing that you will find is that there is a lot of world building and descriptions compared to the amount of action. This makes the pacing of the story a bit slow at the beginning; it picks up toward the middle and is non-stop action from then on. You can see why this is necessary because it’s a new world and you have to establish the many rules and inhabitants. I think that as long as you can understand that it’s a necessity then the rest of the book will win you over.

Another thing is that sometimes it seems like Toby is just reacting to all of the events that keep happening to her, the many attempts on her life means that she also spends a lot of her time injured, recovering from injury or trying to avoid getting injured. I would have liked to see a bit more of the investigation side of things, she is supposed to be a private investigator so this could have been much more prominent in the story.

Something I did like is that although there are some romantic hints it is very much an action driven urban fantasy book. It had just enough keep me intrigued but not overwhelmed and it made sure that the mystery was the main focus of the story.

Final Comments and Overall Rating:

I really liked this first novel from Seanan McGuire, I found it fresh, funny, action packed and intriguing. It is a debut novel so you might find that it has some flaws but I believe that the overall story more than makes up for any of these. October Daye is great new heroine for the Urban Fantasy realm and there were just enough questions left dangling to leave you wanting more.

If you are looking for something new, mad about Fairies or just sick of the same old Urban Fantasy with Vampires and Werewolves then this book is for you. This one was published in 2009 and there are four more in the series that have been published since.

Toby Daye Series: 1. Rosemary and Rue, 2. A Local Habitation, 3. An Artificial Night, 4. Late Eclipses, 5. One Salt Sea

Rating: ☆☆☆☆


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