Saturday, October 19, 2019

Rosemary and Rue (Seanan McGuire)

Rosemary and Rue
The October Daye series, Book 1
Seanan McGuire
Fiction, Fantasy
**** (Good)

DESCRIPTION: October "Toby" Daye was born between two worlds: the mortal realm of her human father in San Francisco, and the Summerlands of her Faerie mother. Such unions inevitably end in tragedy, and for changelings the tragedy rarely ends, as they're too human to be truly part of the Fae courts and too Fae to ever be truly human. She tried living a normal mortal life, even finding a husband and having a daughter and working a job as a private investigator (never mind that her clients tended to be nonhuman), but a curse trapped her as a fish for fourteen years: long enough for everyone, mortal and immortal, to give up on her... and for her to give up on herself.
Toby's struggling to rebuild a life now that she's free. She claws a living off minimum wage jobs, refusing to return to her old liege; Faerie magic cost her her family already, and be damned if she falls into their traps again. But when an old associate, the Countess Evening Winterrose, is murdered with iron, her last message binds Toby with an unbreakable curse: find the killer, or be driven to madness and death. Like it or not, Toby has a case to solve - one that will drag her into the very heart of the Faerie community of San Francisco, and into magicks unseen since the days of King Oberon.
This special edition includes the original novella Strangers in Court: When a younger Toby discovers she's carrying the child of her mortal lover, she decides it's time to leave Home, the nest of outcast changeling miscreants where she's been living since fleeing her disinterested Fae mother. But to make a clean break and start a new life, she needs to perform an act great enough for the Queen to acknowledge her... and do so without being destroyed by pureblood politics and powers.

REVIEW: Like all urban fantasies, Rosemary and Rue works to blend ancient beings and powers with the modern world. Unlike some, this book doesn't forget the inherent inhumanity and cruelty of the traditional Faerie races, their general disregard for mortal emotions and lives save as temporary playthings for their inscrutable games. This attitude bleeds over into the changelings, halfblood Faeries who fit into neither world; October can be just as selfish as any of the purebloods, which can make her difficult to spend time around as a main character. She spends less time hunting down Evening's killer than trading snark with various characters and barely avoiding death, until toward the end of the tale. (How often can one woman pass out from pain and blood loss in a story, anyway?) Her own attitude gets her in at least as much trouble as the case; sometimes I had to wonder why she had so many friends seemingly devoted to her survival, given that she was about as cuddly as one of the thorn-covered rose goblins. Despite that, though, the tale moves fairly well, with plenty of action and magic, enough to manage to hold onto a Good rating. I don't expect I'll follow this series, as even by the end I didn't particularly like Toby, but it's a solid urban fantasy that leaves plenty of threads for future installments to follow.
As for the included novella, it relates the story of how Toby finally had to grow up and start defining her own life instead of letting others define it for her - in the process making friends and enemies that prove pivotal in the events that unfold in Rosemary and Rue. It probably wouldn't stand too well on its own, but it comes packaged with this edition, so that's not an issue.

You Might Also Enjoy:
The Darkest Part of the Forest (Holly Black) - My Review
Discount Armageddon (Seanan McGuire) - My Review
The War of the Flowers (Tad Williams) - My Review

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