Review ♦ Rosemary and Rue

About the Book

The world of Faerie never disappeared: it merely went into hiding, continuing to exist parallel to our own. Secrecy is the key to Faerie's survival—but no secret can be kept forever, and when the fae and mortal worlds collide, changelings are born. Half-human, half-fae, outsiders from birth, these second-class children of Faerie spend their lives fighting for the respect of their immortal relations.

Or, in the case of October "Toby" Daye, rejecting it completely. After getting burned by both sides of her heritage, Toby has denied the fae world, retreating into a "normal" life. Unfortunately for her, Faerie has other ideas.

The murder of Countess Evening Winterrose, one of the secret regents of the San Francisco Bay Area, pulls Toby back into the fae world. Unable to resist Evening's dying curse, which binds her to investigate, Toby is forced to resume her old position as knight errant to the Duke of Shadowed Hills and begin renewing old alliances that may prove her only hope of solving the mystery...before the curse catches up with her.

Book Title: Rosemary and Rue Genre: Fiction – Urban Fantasy
Author: Seanan McGuire Type: Trade Paperback 368 pages
Publisher: DAW Publication Date: September 2009

My Thoughts  
Starting off a review with a comparison to other books is something I try not to do, ever. But for this book I will be making an exception and here’s why: Maybe I’m weird but I’ve always had this ideal book in my head. I knew what I wanted and it was a mixture of little things I loved pulled from different books. This particular dream book of mine had a well-developed fey world (ala Merry Gentry.) It needed a main character, preferably female, who was equally strong, tender, and kick-ass when needed (ala Anita Blake.) Finally I wanted this character and her mythological universe to be a part of modern-day society, a hidden world that only the lucky few are witness to (ala Jim Butchers’ Chicago or Simon Greens’ Nightside.) It seemed I was asking too much because no book ever came close … until I read Rosemary and Rue and realized that Seanan McGuire had created everything I’d wished for. And much more.

Rosemary and Rue is the first book in a series that tells the story of October Daye, Toby to friends. Half-human, half-faerie, Toby’s faced more than her share of misery and is now barely existing. Torn from her mortal family and turning her back on the fey, she’s just trying to get through life one day at a time. Working the graveyard shift at a local grocers and returning home each morning to Cagney and Lacey, the two felines she now shares her life and loneliness with.

The fae have always lived with cats. They’re the only mortal animals that can stand to have us around, and that holds true for all of us, even half-breeds like me. Dogs bark and horses shy away, but cats can look at Kings, and a lot of the time, they do. Cats put up with us, and in exchange, we treat them with respect, and we feed them. We’re related in a way, and I don’t just mean through the Cait Sidhe. We both tend toward pointed ears, stealing cream, and getting burned alive when the wind changes. It was only natural that we’d form an alliance where both sides said, “I don’t need you,” and both answered, “You’ll still stay.”

Toby’s life may not be a happy one, but she can count on things being the same, she knows what’s next and that is enough for her. Fate has something else in mind for her, fate pulls her back into the world she’s been hiding from. Evening Winterrose, a sometime friend of Toby, has been murdered in a way that would terrify anyone, and against Toby’s desires she is forced to investigate and help discover what or who was responsible. And this may just be the thing that enables Toby to face her past, and start living again. With her return to the Faerie world she was once a part of, Toby will learn, grow and start to find her own identity and place in the worlds she has been wandering between.

“I glanced back over my shoulder, watching the light play through the roses, and wondered why it couldn’t all be that way. Why can’t Faerie be the stuff of dreams, all courtly manners and glass roses, Courts and pageants? Why do we have to include murder, and mystery, and the stuff of nightmares?
Light glittered off the shattered petals on the path, answering me. It can’t all be dreams because a broken dream will kill you as surely as a nightmare will, and with a lot less mercy. At least the nightmares don’t smile while they take you down.”

This story is fabulous, the structure and skill of Seanan McGuires’ writing really make it shine. The first thing I was impressed by was the pronunciation guide included at the front of the book. Some of the words were familiar to me – Kitsune, Kelpie, Djinn – but I was very pleased to see the proper way to pronounce others. Particularly the Sidhe types like Cait and Daoine. For someone as compulsive as me about these things it was awesome! More importantly when certain mythological persons, places or things were introduced in the story, the author gave enough detail of the history to enable the reader to understand what was going on. This was mainly done by Toby recollecting a past experience, or expressing her opinion of them, so it strengthened Toby’s history and personality without interrupting the narrative flow.

Toby’s perspective was another great part of the book. Her thoughts and opinions came from both an average woman and someone a little more than mortal. In this way it was easy for the reader to feel the magic of the worlds Toby lived in. The supporting characters also came to life, as Toby interacted with and reminisced on them. Meeting and experiencing all these people from her point of view helped to provide mystery, as Toby is naturally suspicious and wary of others, no matter how close she may have been to them. Her surprises, anger, sadness and happiness are shared with the reader because of this.

What makes Rosemary and Rue such an incredible read goes beyond the story however. In my opinion it lays with the imaginative talent of the author. Her words bring this novel to life, gives Toby a realism that makes her a character that you really feel for. Seanan McGuire seems to be an individual who uses magic and fantasy to fuel her various interests. Not only is she a talented writer, she is also a poetress, artist and musician/songwriter. Her music is a style known as Filk – I had no idea what this was, but her FAQs page answers this: It's a big whirlygig of fun. Or science-fiction folk music. Sounds kinda weird but it’s actually extremely beautiful music, reminds me of some local Gaelic bands I’ve seen perform. I really would have liked to include a sample but better yet here is the link to Seanan’s albums page that has previews of the songs.

Seanan’s website is filled with awesomeness! While you’re there you should also check out her artwork – In Rosemary and Rue there are these little creatures known as Rose Goblins, I loved them, they resemble cats but have spines like a porcupine. And I was so giddy to see that Seanan had drawn an artcard of one! 

And if all this weren’t enough, she’s also written a kick-ass Horror Movie Survival Guide that has a special section dedicated to Zombies!! Squeee!  Here’s the first Q&A:

Q: you seriously have an FAQ section about zombies?

A: Yup. I love me some zombies. Zombies are awesome.

© Seanan McGuire

Final Thoughts  
Rosemary and Rue is definitely my new favorite urban fantasy. October Daye is the perfect heroine with the perfect mix of human and fey characteristics. And Seanan McGuire is now on my favorite authors watchlist – I must have more of her wonderfully imaginative books. I need to know more about Toby, her cats, her world, Rose Goblins, the mysterious Luidaeg and Tybalt (the King of the Cait Sidhe) … oh please let there be more Tybalt :P

  October Daye Series  
Book 1
Rosemary and Rue
September 2009
Book 2
A Local Habitation
March 2010
Book 3
An Artificial Night
September 2010

© 2008-2010 Joanne Mosher of The Book Zombie. All rights reserved.


Heather said...

Adding that to the wish list. It sounds very intriguing. Great review!

Ali said...

How exciting that this author is so much in sync with your reading wishes!

Dar said...

Awesome review! This sounds good-yet another series to get hooked on I'm thinking...

Angiegirl said...

Yep, this one definitely looks good. Thanks for such an in-depth review.

Anonymous said...

I can only say, "I'm so happy for you." I think I might want to read this - will you be there when I do and go 'huh'?

heidenkind said...

Hmm, sounds like a must-read. :)

Have you read Emma Bull's War of the Oaks? It sounds like this book is similar, so might enjoy it.

naida said...

This sounds like a great read. And the Rose Goblins sound cute ;O)

Jennsbookshelf said...

Oh wow..this sounds like it's going to be a great series! Adding it to my wishlist.

Beth F said...

Oh wow! I am just now reading A Kiss of Shadows and I like Merry! I'll have to add this series to my list.

Veens said...

Wow! Awesome Review! I am actually wanting to get into it ASAP :)

Anonymous said...

Oh! Adding this to wishlist immediately! Looks like such a great read, can't wait for it to be out on the shelves! :) (and I like the covers, too!)

Susan said...

Well, this went right on my reading list. It sounds awesome. Thanks so much for reviewing it - how long until September now???

Phyl said...

You've made me very excited, and now I'm going to be grabbing this book the first chance I get! (The cat names alone would almost make it worth it to me, but your description fills me with joy.)

Zibilee said...

Awesome review! Your enthusiasm for this book is contagious, as I am now planning on going out to get a copy. Hopefully I will love it as much as you did, and will get to enjoy a new series!

Mo from Unmainstream Mom Reads said...

This sounds amazing and is definitely going on my TBR list! Great review :)

Anonymous said...

I loved your blog. Thank you.