From the BLURB:
October 'Toby' Daye, a changeling who is half human and half fae, has been an outsider from birth. After getting burned by both sides of her heritage, Toby has denied the Faerie world, retreating to a 'normal' life. Unfortunately for her, the Faerie world has other ideas.
The murder of Countess Evening Winterrose pulls Toby back into the fae world. Unable to resist Evening's dying curse, which binds her to investigate, Toby must resume her former position as knight errant and renew old alliances. As she steps back into fae society, dealing with a cast of characters not entirely good or evil, she realizes that more than her own life will be forfeited if she cannot find Evening's killer.
This is Seanan McGuire’s debut novel.
‘Rosemary & Rue’ has one of the most intriguing prologue’s I have ever read. In the opening chapter changeling P.I. October ‘Toby’ Daye is working a missing persons case. She is searching for her fairy King’s missing wife and child, presumed kidnapped by his brother, Simon Torquill. While tailing her suspect Toby is caught out – and Simon exacts a terrible punishment. He turns Toby into a fish and leaves her in a garden pond for fourteen years.
The spell eventually wears off – but in 14 years Toby loses everything, including her family.
Toby had a husband, Cliff and a daughter, Gillian. Her husband and child never knew of Toby’s fae heritage – a glamour spell maintained her human exterior – and she played at being human (‘faerie bride’). So when Toby went missing for 14 years because of a fae spell, she couldn’t tell Cliff the truth and when she suddenly reappears in their life they are not interested in her absentee excuses.
This is the extremely sad beginning to ‘Rosemary & Rue’. Unfortunately McGuire doesn’t delve into Toby’s failed attempts at reconnecting with Cliff and Gillian. Toby narrates, matter-of-factly, that they want nothing to do with her. On the one hand it leaves a big gaping hole in the book’s plot – since you’re asking yourself from the prologue onwards what happened to Toby’s family for the 14 years she disappeared. But by book’s end you definitely get the feeling that this series has a longevity to it – and McGuire is in no hurry to give up all the juicy details in her debut. Fair enough.
October ‘Toby’ Daye is an extremely complex character. For a brief moment in the prologue we get a sense of the happy family life she has built for herself. But then we jump from 1995 to 2009 and Toby has become a recluse, hateful toward the world of fae and bitter at what she has lost. As the story progresses we delve into Toby’s past and realize just how much she has been through.
That’s where the dreams end: with the realization that it doesn’t matter where I am, whether I think I’m a woman or a fish or something in-between. I’ve never really left the pond. I still can’t breathe.
As a changeling (weak-blooded fae) she fled the sidhe world and journeyed to the world of humans, where she took up with a Dodger-style changeling called Devin. At the age of nine Devin made Toby his own personal pet and lover – as he had done with numerous changeling runaways. In ‘Rosemary & Rue’ Toby turns to Devin for help in a murder investigation, and it’s then that we start to understand the extent of Toby’s dysfunctional personality. She has a lot of love for this pedophile, even while she understands how manipulative he is.
Even the happy family life Toby lost with Cliff and Gillian is questionable – it was a life based on a foundation of lies, since her family never knew of her fae blood.
All of this makes for an incredibly intriguing protagonist, one whose future adventures I look forward to reading. Toby has just the right amount of cynicism and bounce-back to make her a compelling narrator;
If there was ever a Cinderella, her glass slipper shattered under her weight and she limped home bleeding from the ball.
McGuire draws a lot on the world of Shakespeare – Toby is a fan of his work and has a dog-eared copy of ‘Hamlet’ by her bed. Many characters take their name from the Bard’s plays; a King cat sidhe called Tybalt. And of course the books title ‘Rosemary & Rue’ is a reference to Ophelia’s mad ramblings.
Despite the many peppered references, ‘Rosemary & Rue’ has a plot closer to Alexadre Dumas’s ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’ – for both have a protagonist trying to reclaim their lives after false imprisonment.
I really loved this book. McGuire skims over the most interesting plot aspect – concerning the family Toby lost – but the murder mystery is interesting enough to make up for it. And ‘Rosemary & Rue’ certainly feels like the beginning of a long journey; McGuire is currently contracted for three books, but has six planned all together. I look forward to the 2nd book ‘A Local Habitation’ due for release March 2nd 2010.
Big thanks to Michelle at 'Michelle's Book Blog' for reviewing and recommending this book.