Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Rosemary and Rue is well-written urban fantasy. This novel is full of the melancholy. Not what I would call fatalistic or depressing, but instead in touch with the sad, the weary, the timeless angst of the faerie folklore and myths. San Francisco is a beautiful setting for this story, this grand old city of hills, water, and mists. It's not difficult to believe that Faeries would situate their courts in this place. There is something magical to this setting that does half of the world-building in itself. Ms. McGuire very credibly does the rest with her descriptions of the various faerie and changeling denizens. I am no stranger to faerie fiction, but she brought something new to her treatment, describing creatures both achingly beautiful, and horrific, sometimes at the same time. Not to mention their convoluted and ancient rituals sealed in blood and by their words spoken in oaths. When I read books this rich in authentic details, I have trouble doubting that Faerie is real afterall.
It's not fair to compare, but I did feel like October Daye could hang in the Dresden club, with that feel of the ne'er do well, who gets wounded more than her share, much like the wizard from the series by Jim Butcher. Also the fact that her lot in life has lead to losses that she can't slow down to count, or she wouldn't keep moving. This adds to the melancholy vibe of this novel. Nothing excessive, but inherent to this story, like the mists climbing the twisted streets of San Francisco just before dawn. This is not light-hearted, happy-go-lucky urban fantasy. This is the serious kind where you know that October won't come out of this adventure unblemished. But she will be a little wiser, and probably sadder. With faerie, it's expected. That sadness mixed with wonder pulls me back every time. The reason I'll pick up the authentic version of faerie any day over a Disney-style version. (If you need an example, read The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Anderson and give the Disney version a pass). There's a place for Disney, but it doesn't satisfy like the real thing, tears and all.
Rosemary and Rue was a good start to a series. I can see myself become quite captivated with it, due to its rich faerie texture and hint of sadness and sacrifice. I'd recommend it.
View all my reviews