From Modern Mythcraft to Magical Surrealism

Rosemary and Rue: An October Daye Novel by Seanan McGuire

Reviewed by Cynthia Ward

It’s 1995, and October “Toby” Daye is a private investigator in San Francisco. She’s also a mother and fiancée. And she’s a “changeling”: half human, half fae. She keeps this last fact hidden from her mortal family, along with details of any cases involving the fae. So, when Daye disappears, her mortal family has no idea why.

In 2009, Daye escapes the fae curse that turned her into a fish, to find her mortal family wants nothing to do with her. She wants nothing to do with her old life—especially the fae. The fae, however, hold a different opinion. The dying Countess of Goldengreen puts a curse on Toby. Curses are compulsive: Toby must solve Evening Winterrose’s murder or the curse will kill her.

Since they’ve hidden their identities with magic, finding Evening’s murderers proves difficult. And both purebloods and changelings have a motive: Evening owned a “hope chest,” a magic item so rare and potent, even the purebloods think it a myth.

October Daye, the narrator/protagonist, is a welcome addition to the ranks of urban fantasy’s hardboiled female leads. She’s tough and smart. She’s also psychologically damaged by her changeling’s existence among the disdainful purebloods, and her secret life among the humans and other changelings. In short, she’s complicated, sympathetic, maddening, and believable.

Not everything in this debut novel from Seanan McGuire is as believable as its leading character. Daye’s human family refuses contact with her after she reappears—a behavior entirely at odds with the response of real-world families upon the recovery of a missing loved one. She’s also a rather poor detective, even by the (all too often) lax standards of UF private eyes. Of course, Toby’s been off the PI job for fourteen years, and hasn’t heard directly from her family; perhaps these issues will be resolved in future books. Meanwhile, Rosemary and Rue is strong enough to win its author a large well-deserved following.

Rosemary and Rue: An October Daye Novel
Seanan McGuire
DAW Books
$7.99 | mmp | 368 pages
ISBN: 9780756405717
September 2009

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