Monday, September 14, 2009

Rosemary and Rue: The Best New Urban Fantasy Series

Seanan McGuire's Rosemary and Rue is one of the best urban fantasy novels I've read all year.

October Daye is a changeling, half-faerie and half-human, and a knight who owes her allegiance to Duke Sylvester Torquill - a title she earned despite her half blood inferiority. One night while tailing the Duke's brother, Simon, and investigating the disappearance of the Duchess and her daughter, Toby takes a wrong step and winds up on the wrong side of magic she isn't strong enough to defend herself against - magic which causes her to go missing (can't tell you how/why - no spoilers!).

Fourteen years later, she's back and having lost everything in her old life including her human fiance and her daughter, Toby turns her back on faerie and tries to live as human. Until she wakes up to hear a string of frightening voicemail messages from Evening Winterrose, Countess of Goldengreen. Just before she's murdered, Evening calss Toby and binds her with a curse: Toby has to find the murderer and dispense justice. Begrudgingly but determined, Toby immerses herself into the world of Faerie, renewing contacts once lost, making new enemies, and finding herself on the verge of death more than once.

Toby Daye is one of my favorite new heroines. She's tough and determined with a wry sense of humor, but she's also aware of her own shortcomings and knows when she needs help - even if she's too stubborn to ask for it or accept it. Her memories of Evening Winterrose made me mourn her loss even though I never got to see her character.

The plot moves quickly - the story taking place in the span of about a week, and blends the perfect amount of fantasy and magic with mystery and crime-solving. The clues and steps Toby takes to solve Evening's murder are believable and easy to follow without being predictable. The page-turning suspense had me dying to get to the end and unwilling to put the book down. Fully developed imagery and the descriptions of the elaborate world-building rival the best urban fantasy writers (such as Kim Harrison). I became so immersed in Seanan McGuire's Faerie world that I think there were times I forgot I wasn't actually a part of it.

The minor characters are complex and enthralling, each with an extent of the devious, self-serving attitude and perverted sense of honor bound loyalty, one could associate with a race of superior immortal magical beings. Tybalt, King of Cats and leader of the Cait Sidhe, was my second favorite character. His biting verbal jibes and arrogant attitude yet helpful actions had me looking forward to his scenes. And even though Toby thinks he hates her, I think he'll become a love interest in later books - at least, I hope so. Devin, the changeline leader of Home and Toby's ex-lover, and Connor, her pureblood adolescent crush, are the other two men in her life, each with their own set of complicated secrets within their backstory. And both seem to regret losing her. Then there's Cliff, her ex-fiance - so who knows what's in store for Toby's love life.

The ending didn't let me down either. I was thoroughly surprised when I learned who the Bad Guy was, and yet it made complete sense. I could look back and see the hints as well as understand her/his motives (I didn't think Bad Guy needed to explain her/himself at the end, but s/he didn't have a long monologue so it worked for me). I also liked how there are openings and subplots unsolved yet there's still a sense of closure. Evening's murder is solved, but other mysteries and problems within Faerie remain. It feels real. There's still way more to this story, but I feel satisfied. Toby's life isn't fixed by any means, but she's getting it back together, and hopefully loose ends will be tied up in the books that come.

I'm already scheming to get my hands on an early copy of book 2, A Local Habitation out March 2010, and book 3, An Artificial Night out September 2010.

Check out Seanan McGuire's website.

23 comments:

Patti said...

Great review! This sounds like a really good story. *scribbles onto to-be-bought list*

RKCharron said...

Hi
:)
Thanks for the great review.
I loved Rosemary and Rue too.
When it ended I was blue.
I wanted more, like you.
:)
All the best,
@RKCharron
xoxo

Mardel said...

I have read quite a few good reviews of this book, but your's gave me more of an idea what to expect. I'm really looking forward to this book now.

kay - Infinite Shelf said...

Great review! I have this book on my TBR list that I'd like to get a hold of soon! I wasn't so sure it could interest me, but now I'm even more looking forward to trying it. The setting sounds really interesting!

Wanda said...

Rosemary and Rue sounds like an amazing book. I loved the review! Well done!
wandanamgreb(at)gmail(dot)com

melissa @ 1lbr said...

Huh, this does sound like a really new, unique book. I'm going to have to read it!

barnsdale11 said...

I had never read abou this book, but i think it goes straight to my wishlist ^_^ (unless i get it in the giveaway hehehe)

oO mâr!âNâ Oo said...

The book looks very interesting, Great Review

throuthehaze said...

Im looking forward to this. It sounds like a great read

Angiegirl said...

Thanks for this great spoiler-free review! I love the wry sense of humor in an UF heroine and your comment that the secondary characters are complex and that the world feels real make me really look forward to reading this.

Llehn said...

Whoa. This sounds like something I would totally read!

donnas said...

Great review. You really made it sounds like a book to be added to the TBR list.

Aimee said...

*sorrow* This looks awesome. Must have it.

bookobssessed said...

Great Review! This is one of my new favorite books!!! I think it should be required reading for everyone. Don't enter me in the contest because I have already read & reviewed this one. I just wanted to thank you for the great contest/giveaway for this book and let you know how much I enjoyed your review. Also, if you find out how to get the early release of A Local Habitation - please, please let me know who to talk to!!! ;O)

Jenny N. said...

Nice review. I'm always interested in reading a new series.

Becca said...

I can't wait to read this and meet Tybalt. He sounds like a lot of fun. I'm glad to see there is some closure. Some unresolved points are fine but I want the story to have an ending.

BlackWolf said...

Thanks for the review! This is really a good book, i can't wait to read it

Allison said...

Sounds like an interesting and fun book!!! Great review!

andrea b said...

sounds like the kind of fantasy/mystery story that I would like... thanks for the review, now I'm pretty interested on the book (this is going in my wishlist ...)

sheila said...

Great review!a can not wait for read it

budletsmom said...

Sounds like an interesting read. I love paranormal books.

ParaJunkee said...

I have been hearing a lot of good things regarding this book. Thanks for the review.

Paradox said...

Rosemary and Rue sounds like an awesome book! I always love books with faeries and changelings!

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Five Random Things About Suzie

1. I drink so much orange soda, it's probably running through my veins. I've been known to go through a twelve pack of diet sunkist in a day.

2. I'm legitimately nocturnal (or a vampire). I will be so exhausted at two pm that I'm falling asleep standing up - it has happened before, at Six Flags no less - but as soon as the sun goes down I'm wide awake.

3. I have a gorgeous unused $6000 Reem Acra wedding dress hanging in my closet, and it showed up on my doorstep the same day my (now ex) fiance broke up with me. And thank God for that. I wouldn't have wanted to waste that dress on him.

4. Social anxiety plagues me daily. I write a script and practice in front of the mirror when I have to make a phone call, but most people who interact with me have no idea how nervous I am (or perhaps they lie) because I've worked so hard to try to overcome it.

5. I'm actually worried that I will never love my children (when I do have them in the far off future) as much as I love my dogs. I just like animals better than people - they're sweet and innocent and soft and furry - is that so wrong?