Friday, May 7, 2010 | |

Rosemary and Rue by Seanan Mcguire

Rosemary and Rue is the first published work of author Seanan Mcguire (who, incidentally, seems like a very cool person. Interview coming soon!). It's urban fantasy starring October Daye, a changeling fae with limited powers who works...worked as a P.I. in San Francisco...until she got turned into a fish for 14 years. Yep, very catchy beginning. In the hope of giving some sort of order to my reviews, I'm going to try and separate all future reviews into Character, Setting and Plot.

Character- I really like Toby Daye. She's a funny, sort of bungling, magical creature that loves her cats, has a troubled past, a very interesting present, and an even more interesting future. I think she's the best character in the books, which is a very good thing because she's the narrator. The thing I like most about her is that she's not Superwoman, not by a long shot. It's nothing original to have a weak (magic-wise) main character, but after reading lots of epic fantasy (local boy makes good, becomes magical demi-god) and urban fantasy (local super-wizard get the crap beat out of him, saves the day anyway), it's sort of nice to not have Gandalf in the driver's seat. Don't get me wrong, Harry Dresden is awesome, but sometimes I wish he wasn't more powerful than a locomotive, able to decimate ranks of the undead with a single, "fuego!" It's sort of nice to see a character that gets a headache every time she pulls the, "these aren't the droids you're looking for" card.

The other characters in the story seem to have been given characterization appropriate to importance. Those we don't see much get just enough to keep them memorable, while those with a larger part to play get a little more of that magic paint that brings characters to life. That sits just fine with me, and I like my stories that way. Other good characters from the series include Tybalt and of course Toby's cats. Oh, and a walking rosebush.

Setting- I liked having a book in San Francisco. Mcguire's description of the town seems to show that she's got a soft spot for the city by the bay...well, at least Toby does. Again, I like the way she does setting. The description is there, and very well done, but I don't get to hear what every leaf on every tree looks like. Sometimes I feel that books take it too far, but this is just fine. In my own writing (yes, I do that sometimes) I don't do enough setting, so clearly I'm on the spartan side of the setting fence. The realms of faery are very well done, and I like the idea of different famous landmarks being duchies and whatnot. All in all, a cool idea, and pretty well executed.

Plot- Though parts of the story, as with a lot of urban fantasy P.I. books, read like a checklist (checkered past? Check. Main character gets the crap beat out of them but saves the day? Check), I really liked the story of this book. You really get all the emotions that come with someone whose life was in ruins and is just trying to make a second go of it. I connected with this book in a lot of ways, and that rooting interest in the characters, especially Toby, made the whole story greater than the sum of its parts. The mystery of whodunnit wasn't the most complex thing I've ever seen, but it was enough to make you feel things for the characters involved, and that's what a story is really about.

Rosemary and Rue ( 8.75/10) stacks up very well against all of the urban fantasy I've read in the last couple of years. The characters, setting and plot all come together to make you feel something, and thus it becometh a page turner. If you're a fan of the genre, you're going to want to add this to you list of things to read this year. The second book, A Local Habitation just came out about a month and a half ago, and from what I've read it looks to be adding to everything the first book established. Also, if you're a fan of zombie fiction, she's got a new trilogy coming out, the first of which is called Feed. I'm looking forward to that one for sure. In short, go and read them, you'll probably like 'em.


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