Friday, June 1, 2012

Retro Friday: Rosemary and Rue

Retro Friday is a weekly meme hosted at Angieville and focuses on reviewing books from the past. This can be an old favorite, an under-the-radar book you think deserves more attention, something woefully out of print, etc. Everyone is welcome to join in at any time! (From Angieville)

Summary from Goodreads: 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 book isn't maybe the oldest or most under the radar books I could have chose, but I chose it anyway. I first heard about this author and this series on the Black Phoenix Alchemy forum. Seanan McGuire is a member over there and there is a whole thread dedicated to her books. I have been getting into sci fi/fantasy recently and have yet to read an urban fantasy. From all the glowing recommendations over at the BPAL forum, plus good reviews for the series on blogs like Fantasy Book Cafe, I thought I would give it a try.

The description on the back of the book made it hard for me to want to read it at first, however. I find that faeries have been watered down so much, that reading about faeries doesn't really appeal to me. I was hoping that McGuire went down the route of the traditional faeries, before they became like Tinkerbell. I wanted the faeries to have some edge and not just be light and happy pixies.

The story follows October (Toby) Daye, a half fairy, half human changeling. She was a private investigator for a member of the fairy nobility, and due to the drawbacks of a position like this, she was exiled in a pond as a fish for 14 years. The book begins not long after she has been transformed back into herself. Toby wants nothing to do with the faerie world, not surprising considering her past experiences. However, she is drawn back into the world, when an acquaintance/friend, Countess Evening Winterrose is murdered and Toby is the last person she calls. Toby is forced to investigate the crime and find the culprit, otherwise her own life may be in danger.

I had mixed feelings about the book. I did enjoy it, but there was a lot of info dumping from Toby and explanations of how the world worked. McGuire did a good job creating the world, but over half of the book felt like explanations of how the world functioned. The book is in first person, and it seems a little odd that Toby would be explaining things that are second nature to her, but I realize that McGuire has to set up the world. It wasn't until the end of the book that the action really started. There is a lot of build up and not enough action. I did like the world building, despite the info dumping. I loved all the little details that McGuire added, such as cats being in tune with the faerie world and the rose goblins. I really want a rose goblin after reading this book!

However, I have heard that the later books are excellent, so of course, I picked up the sequel, and I'm liking it so far, especially now that all the exposition on the world is mostly over.

I loved the characterization. Toby isn't a perfect character and even though she is a half faerie, she struggles with magic to the point that it can be crippling. My other favorite character is Tybalt. I have heard he features even more into the later books and I can't wait! Even Dare, a very minor character that dies, was well developed and I felt a little twinge of sadness when I realized she wasn't going to make it to the next book. I also liked how San Francisco was a character.

As said before, I'm on the second book and I can't wait to see where McGuire goes with these characters. Again, I love her characterization in the second book, and the ability McGuire has to make "monsters" likeable.


  1. I had just made Tybalt's acquaintance when something shiny distracted me from this series. But I liked him a lot. And I definitely mean to get back to Tobey soon.

    1. I hope you are able to pick it up again. I'm still only on the 2nd one, but I hear the last few are really good.