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Rosemary and Rue (Seanan McGuire)

October (Toby) Daye is a half-fae, half-human, and in a whole lot of trouble from start to finish in this tale of fairy folk of the scary, impressive type living in modern-day San Francisco. The story opens in a flashback as Toby takes on an investigation that ends disastrously. For the rest of the book, more than a dozen years later, she's a semi-stranger in a partially strange land, a tragic figure with a massive stack of chips on her shoulder who insists on following her assigned quest through all sorts of perilous encounters.

McGuire is good at characterization and at portraying the atmosphere of the city (mostly by night, as that's more comfortable for the vast majority of the fae). It turns out that the increasing population density of human beings has resulted in a great many fae-human offspring, and I enjoyed the descriptions of these, as well as the portrayals of the important fae who have made their homes in the city. On the other hand, the plotting gets a little predictable: I often found myself thinking "Oh Toby - not again!" as our heroine once more allows her pride and hurt to come before seeking or accepting help from people who might be able to ... make the book a lot shorter, basically. Toby also ends up with what's basically a geas - right and proper for such a story - that manages to make itself known unpleasantly at a number of overly convenient times to prevent Toby from, again, seeking help from the more powerful.

Toby's almost-love interest did not impress me, especially after the other, more vividly portrayed characters. Although the magical insistence of powerful fae that people be properly dressed for court was funny the first time (especially when Toby's clothes don't change back again afterwards), the second time exasperated me as a moment of random costume porn with more than a dash of "she cleans up nicely, doesn't she?" Finally, although nods are given to fae-like beings from other cultures (there's a powerful kitsune at the most friendly court, for example), these are mostly Celtic fairies of the type illustrated by Brian Froud. I don't recall that any attention is given to the affect of these interlopers from Europe on any of the area's own native magics.

This was entertaining enough that I intend to read the rest of the series, but I really hope Toby develops a bit more sense, and that the subject of the power of the land itself is examined.

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( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 22nd, 2013 06:55 pm (UTC)
I enjoyed the first book a lot, and the second, though not as much, but it doesn't really take off until around book three. The "oh, Toby..." doesn't necessarily improve, but a lot of it does get addressed as actual problems she has, as opposed to being treated like cute character quirks. But I love the atmosphere, and think Maguire managed to find a fairly new and interesting way to do "fae in the modern world."

I'm not 100% certain who you're referring to as Toby's love interest (because while I spotted 2 potentials in the first book, neither actually seemed to really be in love interest territory yet) but if you mean Connor, I think pretty much everyone finds him meh.

The books are rather headbangy re: no-European fae, but while I haven't read much urban fantasy in recent years, based on what I recall, acknowledging the existence on non-European fae is more than most series manage.
Mar. 23rd, 2013 01:59 am (UTC)

Urban fantasy seems like something I ought to like, but most of the descriptions of the books put me off. I ended up with this one because an awful lot of people whose opinions I respect had liked it.

Of course, there's the question of whether Ben Aaronovitch's "Rivers of London" series counts as urban fantasy. I liked those a lot. And I liked Marjorie Liu's "Huinter Kiss" series, although she's starting to get to the "blood from a stone" stage at this point, I think: the series was written so that it could end after the first book, and then she expanded to a trilogy, which was OK, but then there was a fourth one, and ... . *sigh*

I've seen several people echo your opinion that the series really takes off later. Part of my problem with the "Oh, Toby!" moments is that she really does seem about to lose the whole deal at many, many points. I can deal with vulnerability, but someone who's messing up as extremely as Toby is not exactly honoring her own stated goals. Toby, is it more important that the quest be fulfilled, or that you, in particular, fulfill it all by yourself?

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )


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