After intending to participate in CBR for years and years, I finally decided to stop intending and start doing. Part of my “intending but not doing” problem is that it takes me forever to actually write something. I can talk and wave my hands with no problem, but writing an email, forum post or comment takes hours of revisions and second guessing. In the hope that I’ll finally start to get over this fear, here I am. I decided to start out easy, with a series that I’ve read many times and can talk and hypothesise about for hours. Hopefully coherently.
Rosemary and Rue is the first book in the October Daye series by Seanan McGuire. October (Toby) Daye is a changling, which means she’s half Fae, half human. The book starts with a prologue set in 1995, where Toby gets turned into a fish and lives in a koi pond in San Francisco for 14 years. Understandably, she’s not so happy when she is de-fished in 2009. Her daughter and fiance want nothing to do with her, she wants nothing to do with fairy tales, and she’s pretty much just trying to get by. Unfortunately for Toby, she has a particular set of skills (I’M SORRY NOT SORRY), and she soon gets roped into discovering who killed her best enemy/worst friend.
I’ve always thought that series like these live and die by two things: the main character and the world building. You can get by with unfleshed out secondary characters or even gaping plot holes, as long as the world building is thorough and the main character is both internally and externally consistent. Rosemary and Rue has some solid world building (although I suspect I think that because I’ve read all nine books many times, so the world makes sense to me now) and a main character who is world weary, but not without hope. I think that’s what drew me to Toby more than anything: she’s tired and she really wishes the world would stop kicking her, but she keeps picking herself up and she never says “why is this always happening to me?”. She looks around and says “oh shit, I’m the only one who can, I guess I better get on with it”.
There’s not much romance, although I guess there’s the setup for the world’s shortest love triangle. If we want to talk love though, what’s obvious to me is how much Seanan McGuire loves San Francisco. Without it being too intrusive, the depictions of San Francisco are vivid and evocative. I should also mention – all of the titles are lines from Shakespeare, and it’s usually pretty clever how Ms McGuire works either the line itself or the theme into the book.
The only problem I really had with this book is that when you know who the killer is and why, there are a couple of previous conversations and actions that don’t seem to make a heck of a lot of sense. However, I enjoyed this book so much that I kept going with the series. I’m probably not going to review book 2 because I thought it was far too impressed with itself and made Toby look like an idiot, so if anyone does decide to pick up this series, know that you can pretty safely skip book 2.