Thursday, October 20, 2011

"Rosemary and Rue" by Seanan McGuire

Despite my best intentions to dig into some substantial fantasy for my vacation reading, I ended up going back to my stand-by-- urban fantasy. What can I say? It's hard to concentrate while trying to read on a plane. My choice for this trip was the first book in a series that I've been meaning to check out: Rosemary and Rue (October Daye, Book 1) by Seanan McGuire.

October (Toby) Daye is a half-faerie changeling who has made a career for herself in the human world as a private investigator. But the idyllic life she has been living with her boyfriend and daughter is shattered when an investigation goes wrong and she is turned into a fish and trapped in a pond for fourteen years. After the spell is broken Toby's life is changed forever as her family believes she abandoned them. Blaming her ill-fated career as the reason for her loss, Toby walks away from being a private investigator and shuns all contact with the rest of the fae world.

But Toby isn't allowed to continue ignoring the fae world when a friend is murdered and their dying curse ensnares Toby in an enchantment that compels her to find the killers.

I'm somewhat on the fence about how I feel about "Rosemary and Rue." The book is very readable and a nice diversion when you're looking for some light entertainment. McGuire introduces a lot of different fae characters, both half and full-breed, and it's always fun to see how an author uses the mythology-- and she does a good job here of making them both exotic and interesting. Toby is a likable heroine, though not always convincing as the smart P.I. she's supposed to be. One of my quibbles with urban fantasy is the tendency to have the main characters running around from one disaster to the next and that is definitely the case with "Rosemary and Rue." But I couldn't dismiss the book the way I would others of its kind because there is a certain credibility in the idea that the curse Toby is under is so strong that she can't take a more measured approach to her investigation.

The secondary characters were also fun, if not thoroughly original. Toby, despite her self-imposed isolation, has a lot of people who care about her including friends from her childhood and a former lover; and they prove to be very reliable when it comes to patching up Toby's many injuries. They're a familiar mix of well known and semi-trusted people from Toby's former life. The one unique spin is that some of Toby's friends only help her in exchange for favors-- as is traditional among the fae.

"Rosemary and Rue" is like a lot of likable, but slightly forgettable, urban fantasies. There's a lot of action and a twist here and there, but nothing that makes me want to go out of my way to recommend the book as the next big thing. It's one that will reliably entertain those who like the genre but isn't unique enough to make my short-list of favorites. I may read the second in the series to see if Toby becomes a more able investigator as the story continues-- I wasn't hugely impressed with Toby's flashes of insight or her ability to deliver the requisite one-liners (though you gotta love someone who names their cats Cagney and Lacey). I don't want to knock "Rosemary and Rue" too much because it does what it's supposed to do-- which is entertain. I wanted to see how the story would resolve itself and thought the journey was enjoyable. I just feel that the book can't be given extra points for originality and continuity and hope those are things that will appear in later books.

3 and 1/2 out of 5 stars.


Michael Offutt said...

I think I'll be passing on this book.

Blodeuedd said...

I do have this on, but well i will get to it when I get to it ;)

SQT said...

Michael-- I was expecting more from it.

Blodeuedd-- It's kind of generic (in my opinion) so I wouldn't drop anything for it. But it's good when you don't want to work too hard to read something (like on a plane);)

Elfy said...

I'm going to urge you to read on. Rosemary and Rue was Seanan's first book. She's now done 5 Toby's (One Salt Sea came out in September) and been nominated for a Hugo for the first volume of the Newsflesh trilogy (Feed, Mira Grant is also Seanan), the Toby's only get better and better. The 2nd book A Local Habitation is very different in style, it's more of an Agatha Christie, whereas Rosemary and Rue was more Raymond Chandler. One Salt Sea is one of the best things I've read this year.

SQT said...

Elfy-- Thanks! I'll be sure to keep reading now. :)

animewookie said...

Sounds like it has a lot going on. Might be worth another try though :D