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Title: Rosemary and Rue
Series: October Daye #1
Author: Seanan McGuire
Rating: 1 of 5 Stars
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Prologue: June 9, 1995
Half-fae changeling October Daye is on a stakeout for her private investigator / knight errant job when she gets a call from her human boyfriend Cliff and Gillian. Simon Torquill appears and Toby follows him to the Japanese Tea Gardens in Golden Gate Park in the hopes of locating the missing Luna and Rayseline Torquill. Simon meets up with Oleander, then turns Toby into a fish when he catches her spying. She is kicked into the koi ponds where she and Lily are trapped and forgotten for fourteen years.
Chapter 1-2: December 23, 2009
Toby regains her true form and seeks help from her longtime friend Evening Winterrose to set up a new human identity. She rejects most of Faerie including Sylvester and her changeling friends Mitch, Stacy, and Kerry, choosing instead to work at Safeway and occasionally offer toothpicks as aid in the local pixies’ territory wars. When Mitch visits the store, she pretends not to know him even though Gillian and his daughter Cassandra used to be playmates.
While heading home from a work shift, Toby is caught by the dawn and her human illusions are forcibly stripped away. Tybalt appears while she recovers from the pain of the magic, and they banter before going their separate ways. She arrives home to find a page of Duke Sylvester’s service waiting with a message, but she refuses to hear it as she has refused all the other messages.
Toby dreams about her mother Amandine, who had been married to Toby’s human father until Toby’s Changeling’s Choice, administered by Sylvester, forced mother and daughter back to the Summerlands. She also dreams of the day she escaped the koi pond and sought Evening’s help to get back on her feet, even as Cliff and Gillian rejected her for abandoning them for fourteen years.
Chapter 3-4: Awoken by her cats Cagney and Lacey, Toby listens to several increasingly frantic voicemails from Evening which culminate in Evening binding Toby to find Evening’s killer right before Toby hears Evening get murdered over the line. Toby drives to Evening’s apartment where she magics the human police into believing she belongs there. She finds splatters of Evening’s blood and the human-like corpse left by the night-haunts. She uses her Daoine Sidhe abilities to taste the blood and relive Evening’s final moments, learning that unidentified attackers killed her with iron bullets.
Chapter 5-7: Toby travels to the Court of the Queen of the Mists to announce the death using the fae’s formal customs, but the semi-mad Queen refuses to believe her. Next Toby goes to Home, an underground community of Changelings led by Devin, who had given refuge to Toby as a teenager after she ran away from Amandine and the Summerlands. Toby confronts teenagers Dare and Manuel before they allow her to see Devin. She recalls her own time as Devin’s lover and lackey, and how she and Devin had argued when Toby started dating Cliff and became pregnant with Gillian. In the present, Devin insists that he would have helped Toby after her return from the pond if Toby had allowed it. He explains that Evening was a benefactor for Home, and he pledges Home’s resources to helping Toby find her killer. In exchange, Toby will be in his debt. Devin encourages her to break ties with Sylvester, since although she won’t talk to Sylvester she is still his sworn knight, but she refuses.
Chapter 8-10: On the way home, Toby encounters a rose goblin who gives her an unmarked key. Evening’s binding tells Toby that the key is important, so Toby next heads to Evening’s mortal place of business, Third Road Enterprises. The binding tells her that the key will “open the way into Goldengreen,” Evening’s knowe. Using the key at the mortal business gives Toby access to the offices and leads her to a hidden hope chest. Toby recognizes that she must hide it, so she makes a bargain with Tybalt to keep it safe. He refuses at first, telling her to take it to the Queen or the Tea Gardens, but then accepts it and puts Toby in his debt.
Chapter 11-12: Although she is exhausted, Evening’s binding uses increasingly painful means to urge Toby to keep hunting the truth. Toby visits Shadowed Hills to inform the Torquills of Evening’s death and to ask for help. She recalls that Sylvester went mad when Luna, Raysel, and Toby all disappeared, and only snapped out of it when his wife and daughter returned to him. Toby’s magical abilities are tested by a footman who makes her design a court outfit with her magic, which adds to her magic burn. Quentin, the page who visited her home earlier, announces her to the Torquills. Sylvester is delighted to see her but shocked by the news of Evening, and more shocked by Toby’s binding to find the killer. As the Torquills mourn Evening’s death, Toby flees to the rose gardens and is followed by Connor, who attempts to make small talk with her but is clearly unhappy in his politically arranged marriage to Rayseline.
Chapter 13: Quentin finds Toby after Connor leaves, and she learns that he is in blind fosterage to Shadowed Hills. She tries to relax his pureblood prejudices and formal mannerisms, and they agree to hang out after things calm down. Sylvester and Luna are upset that Toby indebted herself to Home on her quest, and they reiterate her welcome at Shadowed Hills. She promises to stay in touch.
Chapter 14-16: On her way home, Toby realizes someone is in the car with her and she drives manically to keep them off-kilter. The intruder shoots her with iron and she flees the car, escaping on a city bus that takes her to Golden Gate Park. She tricks the Tea Garden’s gate attendant into letting her in and, growing increasingly weaker, she falls into a koi pond only to be rescued by Tybalt, who brings her to Lily. The Undine heals Toby, then chides her for her apparent death wish before sending her off with Julie and Ross as escorts. The trio are attacked en route to the taxi and Ross is killed. Tybalt kills the attacker and claims he helped so he won’t be stuck with the hope chest.
Chapter 17: Toby is driven home by Danny to find Devin waiting on her doorstep. Devin administers to Toby’s latest wounds and they sleep together, Devin trying to convince her to give up her hunt.
Chapter 18: Toby is fired from Safeway for being no call-no show. She can’t make herself care given everything going on. A doppleganger posing as Gillian visits and attacks Toby, who wants to believe her daughter is ready to make amends. Dare and Manuel come to the rescue and Dare kills the doppleganger with her iron knife, but in the attack Toby is yet again injured.
Chapter 19-20:They take her to Home, where Devin yells at the kids for slacking on guard duty. He tries to persuade Toby to give up her hunt for Evening’s killer, which she physically cannot do even if she wanted to. Dare asks how Toby met Devin, and Toby recalls how he rescued her from the streets as a teenager. She encourages Dare to break free of Devin, but Dare brushes her off. Devin tells Toby that he will send word to Sylvester that she is safe. Toby learns that Devin called in a favor from the Luidaeg to heal her.
Chapter 21: Toby, Manuel, and Dare head to Goldengreen to investigate further. She runs into Connor, who was sent by Sylvester, and discovers that Devin lied about updating the Duke. She makes Connor cut himself to prove he is not another doppelganger, identifying him by the scent of his blood and magic. Toby suggests that Raysel might be the killer, and they again acknowledge their mutual attraction even though Toby refuses to let Connor cheat on Raysel. They realize they are not alone in Goldengreen, and in fleeing they accidentally jump off a cliff into the ocean. Connor uses his selkie abilities to rescue Toby from panic-drowning as she flashes back to the pond.
Chapter 22: Dare and Manuel find them on the shore and they return to Shadowed Hills. Luna agrees to give the teens sanctuary. She also recognizes that Toby has been healed by the Luidaeg and tells Toby she must visit the Luidaeg to learn how to escape Evening’s binding. The rose goblin shows her the way.
Chapter 23: The Luidaeg introduces herself, shows Toby a vision of Maeve’s Firstborn, and identifies herself as one of them. Toby barters Evening’s key for the answers to her questions. She learns that hope chests can turn changelings fully human and that Devin has future plans for Toby. Toby does not ask her final question, which leaves the Luidaeg furiously in her debt.
Chapter 24: Back at home, Toby names the rose goblin Spike; the cats have warily accepted its presence. Toby asks Cagney and Lacey to bring her to Tybalt, being his subjects, and they grudgingly take her to the Court of Cats. She asks Tybalt for the bloody shirt he had worn at the park, and Julie attacks her because she blames Toby for Ross’s death. Tybalt asserts dominance over Julie, gives Toby the shirt, and tells Toby to leave as Julie continues to struggle.
Chapter 26: Toby seeks Lily’s help to reawaken the blood on Tybalt’s shirt. Lily tries unsuccessfully to dissuade Toby from riding the blood, and Toby learns that Devin is Evening’s killer. The binding nearly lulls Toby into a peaceful death, but Lily snaps her out of it. Danny takes Toby to Home where she confronts Devin. He says he killed Evening so he could use the hope chest to become a pureblood. He wishes Toby had come back to him, then orders Manuel to shoot her. Manuel hesitates and he, Dare, Devin, and Toby fight. Devin kills Dare. Manuel kills Devin.
Chapter 27: Sylvester and Shadowed Hills arrive for cleanup. Dare is buried. The hope chest is returned to the Queen, who is now in Toby’s debt. Toby accepts her place in the world of the fae.
I had seen several reviewers who were long time fans of this series (it’s up to book 14 or 15 I think?) and from what they had written, it sounded very interesting. I knew this was Urban Fantasy, a genre I have a VERY mixed relationship with, but was hoping it would stay away from the tropes that have driven me away from the genre in general. Unfortunately, as you can tell from the rating I gave the book, this read didn’t work out as I was hoping it would.
This was the very definition of female urban fantasy as far as I’m concerned. Everything that bugs the living daylights out of me about UF was here, in spades.
- Spunky, full of attitude woman
- multiple love interests from the past
- family drama ramped up to 11
- poor decisions by the main character leading to drama ramped up to 20
- main character “taking care of herself” even while being rescued by others over and over and over
- did I mention attitude coupled with bad decisions?
- Bad Decisions
- doing things for the good of others without asking them, talking to them about it or in any way seeing if it actually IS good for them
- alienating family, friends and pretty much anyone who could help in the name of being spunky and full of attitude
And that’s enough for me. I will not read a main character who acts stupidly, gets away with it because of authorial fiat and then gets to call it “I can take care of myself” bullshit. Toby Daye (the titular character’s named shortened obviously) is exactly the kind of character who I hate. Not the kind of character I love to hate, or love to hate and read about, but simply hate.
I hated almost every page I read and seriously thought about DNF’ing this at the 9% mark. I guess I fell into the trap of thinking that this couldn’t possibly stay this bad and so kept reading. By the end, I was seething on the inside, almost frothing on the outside and felt like I had wasted my time. Even Psychic Grandma rattled her chains at me for being so dumb as to go all the way to the end. Considering I never listen to her about her ironing tips, I wasn’t about to start with “reading advice” from her either though.
The only good thing is that at under 300 pages I didn’t invest much time and I can now get rid of the whole series from my tbr list. 13’ish books gone in one fell swoop and able to add another series to my reading rotation.
If the bullet list of things sound like something you’d like, then go for it and may you find more joy than I did.