Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire

rosemary and rue coverOctober Daye–Toby to her acquaintances, she isn’t one to have many friends–is a changeling living in San Francisco. She is half-human, half-fae: fae enough to be a Knight in the service of the local Duke, but human enough to be rejected by most of faerie and forced to live and work in the human work to survive. Fed up with being an outcast and only appreciated for her rare abilities, Toby turns her back on faerie completely. But a murder of one of her pureblood friends pulls her abruptly back into the world she thought she left long ago, forcing her to renew old alliances and discover new enemies. Ever step Toby takes deeper into the world of faerie makes her remember why she left, and why she didn’t want to come back. If Toby cannot solve her friend Evening’s murder, she may be leaving both faerie and the human world permanently.

Ugh, that was such a cliche way to end a summary, but really it sums up the entire book rather nicely. This whole book was kinda cheesy, and I didn’t like it very much. It felt to me like the author got an outline for “How to Write an Urban Fantasy” and followed it exactly. For example: Start with a character who’s mad at everyone and everything. Begin with prologue about said character’s life “before” then continue with first chapter that starts “after” without any information about the disaster that led to a “before” and an “after.” In about two chapters or so, describe the disaster. Have main character think about former friends and allies, alluding to problems that happened in the past. Wait about two more chapters, and then detail those problems. Give tiny hints about the world the characters are inhabiting as you go along, never giving the reader quite enough information to be satisfied. Create an ending full of betrayal and pain that the reader can see coming a mile away.

OK, maybe I’m being a little harsh. It wasn’t that I hated this book–if I did, I would have stopped reading. And it’s not like I have read many many urban fantasy books that follow this same format. It just seemed like this book was SO OBVIOUS about it. Toby was so very angry at the world. Granted, I would be angry too if some pompous jerk turned me into a fish for 14 years too, so I guess she had an excuse, but her anger seemed so transparent to me. I wanted to like Toby, or at least be emotionally invested in her if I couldn’t like her, and it didn’t happen. None of the side characters were described in enough detail for me to be emotionally invested in them either, and if you haven’t learned anything else about my reading preferences from reading this blog, you should know that if I don’t like the characters, I don’t like anything about the book. There were moments in the book I liked. I can’t remember any of them at this very second, but there were a few where I thought “OK, that’s cool.” But not enough to save it. And the ending really was predictable. Like almost as soon as I met a particular character I thought, “He did it” and I was very unfortunately correct.

This was one of those books that sat on my Goodreads “to-read” like for a long time, so I was kinda disappointed in it; however, I do want to give Ms. McGuire a second chance. I was reading her website, and she has written several October Daye books, and some of them have been bestsellers, so I’m willing to try at the very least the next book in the series. I do know that often series like this get better with time. And I know Toby has more stories to tell, as do some of the surrounding characters, I just hope in the next book they are told a little less like a form letter, haha. I’m not in a rush to read it, but we’ll see if I get around to it this summer. Now, on to the next book on the list!

Happy reading,

-Branwen

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