I feel about this book the same way I do about Kim Harrison's series involving Rachel Morgan: I'm compelled to read it, but I'm not sure that I totall...moreI feel about this book the same way I do about Kim Harrison's series involving Rachel Morgan: I'm compelled to read it, but I'm not sure that I totally like it and I can't quite put my finger on the specific things which make me want to read Rosemary and Rue or continue with the series. Yet there was something about the book that hooked me, because I sped through it and am eager for the next. Perhaps I'm just being perverse (something I do quite often).
First off, I have to congratulate Seanan McGuire on her skills at world-building. She's obviously put in a lot of thought into the world of fae she wished to create, even if she does throw in some disconcerting Japanese mythology in there as well. (I'm sorry, but the concept just doesn't sit well with the whole Celtic/European fae setting she's got going, but, for some reason, it seems to be the thing to do in recent urban fantasies involving the Fair Folk.) And, like a friend of mine, I'd love to know where I can get a rose goblin; they're quite an original creation! The characters are complex and--dare I say this about a book involving faeries and halflings?--human, with conflicting aspects to their personalities. And although Toby never seems to be proactive during much of the story, falling into situations by a combination of luck and good (or bad) timing, the story moves along quickly and the author writes fairly stimulating action scenes. The thing which I most loved was the un-traditional way McGuire went about describing the magic. Most authors rely on colors, which is fine and dandy, but McGuire gave every character's magic a distinctive scent, which, seeing as I'm a sense-oriented type of person, I really appreciated. It made her brand of fantasy stand out.
That said, the book overall bugs me. I can buy the reactions of her boyfriend, Cliff, and her daughter, Gillian, to Toby's fourteen year disappearance, but just barely; I would think, even if Cliff suspected her of not telling him the whole truth, he would stick around a little bit longer to try and pry it out of her instead of walking away from Toby like some sulking little girl. Speaking of Cliff's reaction, the author has an annoying habit of withholding information about her characters. I understand, as a writer, that it's not nice to info-dump, lumping a bunch of details into a paragraph or two. That said, you can sprinkle those details throughout the paragraphs that follow a major backstory, giving the reader information without overwhelming her or distracting from the story. McGuire withheld the story of Cliff's reaction to Toby's disappearance for three chapters or so. Call me impatient, call me an instant-gratification girl, but that's too long. Plus, she introduces some characters without explaining their relationship to Toby until another two or three chapters later, so you're left with only the name of this person, wondering, did this character appear already and I've forgotten? Who is this person? By the time the explanation comes, the story gets paused as you try to figure out who the author is talking about and why that person is important. And, I hate to say this, but a lot of the time I was reading Rosemary and Rue I couldn't help but think that Toby is a female version of Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden. The wry, sardonic narration, the resignation they feel when they have to do a job they'd rather not, which then turns into a stubborness to fight for the little guy, the willingness to fight, but to also run away when possible, the aversion to power-plays and politics. Not to mention the fact that they both drive VW Bugs. I know, that doesn't mean a lot, but c'mon, aren't there any other cars out there besides Bugs? How 'bout a nice VW Rabbit for a change?
My biggest pet peeve, though, comes from Toby's relationship to her old flame and mentor, Devin. Come on, the guy's a creep! I can see that from a mile away, anyone with half a brain can see that. So why does his behavior come as a shock to Toby? Why does she keep going back to him? Is it that whole 'bad boy' thing? Maybe that's why I don't understand Toby's attraction to Devin, because I don't understand the attraction to bad boys. I find it stupid, quite honestly.
However, despite all these nit-pickings, despite my confusion over exactly why I think this is an excellent debut, Rosemary and Rueis an excellent debut and I'm looking forward to where McGuire is going to take the series.(less)