Friday, June 3, 2011

Book Review: Rosemary and Rue

Has anyone ever really stopped to think about faeries? Tinkerbell or the Blue Fairy from Pinocchio doesn't count. I'm talking real faeries; more specifically, the Fae. When you hear the word faerie, regardless of the spelling, you probably envision cute little cartoon sprites fluttering around, giggling gleefully, and sprinkling pixie dust to turn mushrooms into toads.

Tinkerbell is a popular fairy but faeries like Tinkerbell can't
fire weapons, solve murders, portals to other realms or get
shot at multiple time and live to tell about it.
So we aren't talking about them in this post.
You hear the word  ‘faerie’ and you instantly get this image of a small, winged, humanoid-like creature. These little faeries are almost always female and almost always good-- using their faerie magic to help the hero or heroine in the story.

The reality is that the origin of faeries and the Fae goes back way beyond characters in Disney movies, video games and fairy tales. Our modern society has a way of ‘dumbing down’ many traditions and legends that started out not so innocent and harmless. Halloween, anyone?

The real faeries, or as I like to call them, the Fae, start to make an appearance in Medieval folklore and we hear about them up until the Victorian era. These faeries weren't cute, attractive women in mini-dresses. They were thought to be some version of the dead, like ghosts or spirits; possibly demons. Some folklorists even think that they might have been thought to be a conquered race, driven to the underground to hide.

Faeries were malicious and mischievous beings and much of folklore is dedicated to methods of driving them away, or shunning locations where faeries were known to frequent. In folklore, faeries were known for stealing babies and replacing them with changelings--faerie offspring, often they didn't live very long--and abducting older people as well.

You're thinking, "O-okay? That's nice, so why are you wasting my time telling me about faeries?" 
October Daye is one part Fae, one part human,
 and one hundred percent badass.  
Because when I first heard that Seanan McGuire's Rosemary and Rue was about faeries, honestly...

I laughed. 

A book about faeries? There's no way anyone could make that cool. 

So hear me out, usually I shy away from all things wizards, Faerie, and magicks like a cat that finds out it's been tricked into taking a bath. 

Before I read this series, I too thought faeries only existed in movies and video games as cute little sprites with wings. I didn't know that faeries could be six feet tall, have fangs, cast curses, and read blood to find out the last moments' of another faerie's life.

Starting to see the difference?


When we first meet October Daye the year is 1995 and she is hot on the trail of a 500 year old Fae named, Simon Torquill-- twin brother of Sylvester Torquill, Duke of the Shadowed Hills-- the Shadowed Hills being one of the Faerie kingdoms. Simon, who absolutely despises his brother, kidnaps the Duke's wife, Luna, and their daughter, Rayseline. As a loyal knight of the Duke and a private investigator of all things Fae and supernatural, October (Toby) has tracked Simon to a local restaurant. She thinks she has everything under control but she completely underestimates Simon. Toby follows him to the Japanese Tea Gardens, another Fae kingdom masquerading as a human tourist attraction, and straight into a trap.

Under the influence of Oleander, a 900 year old Fae, who just so happens to also be his lover, Simon turns Toby into a Koi fish. The twist to this tale she is forced to live life as a fish for 14 years not knowing anything about the outside world other than when it's time to eat and when the sun sets and rises.

Fourteen years and two days later, the spell is lifted and Toby turns back into her human self, only to find out that everything so has worked so hard for is gone--including her husband, Cliff, and their daughter, Gillian. Skip forward to 2009 and Toby is working on rebuilding her life from the ground up. She’s traded in a gun and her P.I. liscence for a handheld scanner and a grocery store apron. She’s done with faerie and that world, or so she thinks…

When Countess Evening Winterrose, a Fae who helped Toby on the day she was released into the human world, is murdered, her last dying curse binds Toby to finding her killer and setting foot into a place she wants to forget.

The fourth installment in the October Daye series.

As a self-proclaimed fan of all things supernatural who also enjoys a good mystery novel or two every now and again, this book was an excellent read. So much in fact that I am up to book four (Late Eclipses) in the series.

The great thing about Seanan McGuire is her ability to tell a story in first person without it sounding like the character is rehashing things that they already know. As Toby learns, the reader learns. In the first book Toby's character is still rather undeveloped. There's still so much she doesn't know and understand about McGuire's vastly developed world of the Fae. There's a big difference between the Toby in book one and book four. 

McGuire also writes a common urban fantasy stereotype well: the Buffy-esque heroine. Tough as nails, a fighter to the death, can kill a demon in two seconds before you can even blink; we all know the type. Don't get me wrong, I love the stereotype... when done well. McGuire explains Toby's troubled past as a changeling teenage runaway, her lost family, her father who she will never see again, and her mother who is lost to her. Spending 14 years as a fish anyone would be a little cold, hostile and anti-social. As the series progresses she begins to break out of her shell and starts to trust the people around her.

This book... the entire series actually, is a good read. I have the release dates marked on my calendar so I know what day to go to the bookstore and pick up the newest book. (Yes, I do realize I am 24 and totally against the e-book craze. It's right up there with gourmet cupcakes and dresses for dogs on my list of useless things I don't need.) To make a really long post short, if you like a little more mystery, homicide and high action fight scenes with your Faeries pick up this series, it’ll make you think twice about Tinkerbell.


Rosemary and Rue is the first book in the October Daye series. 'A Local Habitation', 'An Artificial Night', and 'Late Eclipses' are the next three books in the series. One Salt Sea the fifth book in the series will debut Sept 2011.



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