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Review: Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire

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Rosemary and Rue (October Daye #1) by Seanan McGuire
Urban Fantasy, Fae
Mass Market Paperback (DAW, 368 pages, $7.99)
ISBN# 0756405718
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.

Author Site:

Fresh Fare for Fae Fans (5 stars)

October Daye, better known to her friends and enemies as "Toby", has seen better times. Having recently recovered from a spell that left her trapped in the form of a fish for fourteen years she's lost everything she valued. A Changeling--half-human, half-fae--by birth she doesn't truly belong in either world. She may owe some allegience to her fae leige but having lost the human she loved and the now teenaged daughter she adored have left a mark on her.

With her old frenemy, Evening Winterrose, murdered it falls on Toby to find her killer or face the possibility of her own death. Dragged back into the world of Fae politics and secrets Toby must renew old ties and seek out the very persons she has been trying to avoid. There's no telling who she can trust amongst the Fae fiefdoms when enemies can be more straight-forward than one's own friends.

October's series is off to a good start with Rosemary and Rue. These are the fae most faeriephiles are familiar with but with some twists. McGuire gives readers just enough detail and hints to keep them reading but leaves a lot open for disclosure in future installments. I found her Cait Sidhe particularly interesting because I'm a cat lover. The variety of changelings make for an curious lot as there are many different types of fae in this particular world building. Where the author will go with this is anyone's guess.

As a heroine Toby is a little iffy. I liked her but felt like she wasn't telling us everything and some of her motivations seemed a little contrived. At times I felt like I had to guess at her motives and the lack of explanation of her relationships with her friends and enemies could have gone much deeper. There is a certain quality to her character that does make it hard not to want to continue getting to know her and wishing she was more forthcoming as the narrator of her story that will keep most readers entertained though. The wide variety of secondary characters were well done, strengthening the story even if (like Toby) I felt the surface was barely scratched with most of them. One issue I had here is that I frequently felt like I was told instead of shown how Toby related to the others.

Overall the story wasn't flawless but I found it hard to put down. After a while certain mythologies can feel redundant and Rosemary and Rue does its best to steer clear of that. Anyone who likes urban fantasy with Fae should pick this one up and check it out. The heavy sexual overtones of some other faerie series aren't present in this first book but may pop up in future ones. I recommend this one for urban fantasy fans looking for something fresh and original.

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