Sunday, 25 June 2017

Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire

Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire is the first book in the rather long (ten books and counting, not to mention a large pile of short fiction) October Daye series. I picked it up because the series has been shortlisted for the inaugural Best Series Hugo Award, and because I've been wanting to read more of McGuire's back catalogue.

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.

In many ways, this is a pretty standard kind of urban fantasy book; set in modern times, with a slightly but not too magical heroine who is (was) a private investigator and has to solve a supernatural murder. That doesn't mean it's a bad read and many of the details made this quite an enjoyable read for me. For one thing, there wasn't much of a romantic plot line, always a plus. (I still remember an urban fantasy I read where the hero apparently smelled of pine air-freshener and I am still not over the grossness.) It deals sensibly with themes of abuse and incorporates lots of different mythologies in the worldbuilding. I can see how there would be a lot of fodder for many more books in the series.

I also found it interesting that Toby isn't actually very young. It seems to me that these sorts of heroines often are, but although Toby looks relatively young, because of her half-faerie blood, she is past what would be middle-age for a human. That gives mer more scope in life experiences and allows her to take a more mature retrospective view of her past, and choices she made that other kids may now be making. She speaks frankly about negative aspects of her past, which I thought was good (introspection, etc) but which might also come off as heavy handed. I'm a little undecided, but I think it's ultimately better not to be too subtle about some of the issues involved.

Rosemary and Rue was a complete story but, of course, leaves the story open for Toby to have a lot more adventures because there will always be more problems in Faerie that need solving. I am keen to read more of the series but I expect I will end up spacing them out a bit due to too-many-books-too-little-time syndrome. (I have also been told by a couple of people that they really pick up from around book three, so hmm.)

4 / 5 stars

First published: 2009, DAW Books
Series: October Daye book 1 of ? (11 comes out later this year)
Format read: omnibus ePub
Source: Hugo voter packet


  1. I'm reading this on my iPad. I bought it because the author was coming to Continuum this year, but didn't get it finished on time. I have to say, Seanan McGuire was very good value for money,a very funny and entertaining speaker. I will really have to finish it. I like urban fantasy, though mostly Charles De Lint. Melissa Marr is also interesting, as a PhD who really knows her folklore.

    I must admit, though, that this one was just a bit disappointing in that I'd expected more of a whodunnit with a Faerie PI. Maybe the next book?

    1. It was her first published novel, so I think a bit of leeway is allowed. Apparently they start getting really good from book 3 (or so I've been told).