Review: Rosemary and Rue, by Seanan McGuire

February 7, 2010 Books, Reviews 4

Rosemary and Rue, by Seanan McGuire

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Description: 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.

This review is based on a copy I bought myself.

The Bibliomaniac”s Review:

I’d been waiting for this book for quite a while.

It was worth the wait.

October “Toby” Daye is a changeling, born of a fae mother and a human father. Ripped from a mostly normal human world as a child, she grew up in the courts of Faerie, learning to use her weak magic to its best advantage, eventually being knighted for her services to her liege.

The book begins with a failure; not only does she not solve the case she was working on, she does so in what’s almost the most catastrophic way possible, and loses fourteen years of her life in the process.

Fast-forward to now: Toby has turned her back on the fae world, or is trying to, but it keeps trying to pull her back. When her mentor and friend is murdered, and lays a curse on Toby that she must solve the murder, she knows she must return to the intrigue, magic, and danger of her past…or die.

I read a lot of books, and enjoy most of them. This one makes me wish I’d written it, and I can’t give a higher compliment than that. McGuire’s grasp of  dialogue is realistic, with different quirks of speech for each different character; I’ve read a number of books lately where everyone talked exactly alike, so much so that each exchange could have been stamped out with a cookie cutter.  The description here is lush and decadent, vividly describing both the mundane setting of San Francisco and the otherworldly vistas of the faerie realm.  The action sequences and plot twists were fast-paced and kept my heart pounding.  The mixture of noir detective story elements (reminiscent of the best work of Raymond Chandler or Dashiell Hammett) with the urban fantasy setting makes Rosemary and Rue stand out from the crowd of other urban fantasies.

I’ll be buying multiple copies of this book to hand out to all my friends who read fantasy…and a few who don’t.

The sequel to this book, A Local Habitation, comes out in March 2010, and the third book in the series, An Artificial Night, comes out in September 2010. Those dates are much, much too far away, and I’d really like to petition the publisher to move them up a bit. I think I MIGHT be able to wait until Christmas, but not a moment longer. (To be honest, I know the publisher won’t listen to me. That’s almost acceptable, given that I know there are at least three more books waiting in the wings after that. I want this series to go on forever.)

I can say without any hyperbole that this is the best book I read in 2009. Not everyone, looking at a list of all the books I read in 2009, might agree with me, but that’s okay; everyone’s entitled to their opinion.

Ms. McGuire needs to take good care of her health. While she’s not my bitch, I can say without the slightest trace of restraint or shame that I want her to continue writing books I can enjoy for a long, long time.