R.'s Reviews > Rosemary and Rue

Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire
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Jan 18, 2010

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bookshelves: urban-fantasy, publication-contemporary
Read in January, 2010

This started off strong, but it lost a whooooole bunch of steam as it went. The story never really felt like it was driving forward, just sort of meandering onward.

Toby is likeable enough, but she's sort of ineffectual. She spends a large portion of the book constantly being battered about and recovering from various near-fatal injuries and in the grand scheme of the plot and what she's attempting to do, very rarely does she ever actually accomplish anything herself. Which is not to say that she has to be an invulnerable superwoman, and having help is fine. But Toby (and thus the narrative since it's first person) constantly harps on how relatively weak she is as compared to all of the extremely powerful beings around her and that's consistently held up by the text, which leaves one wondering why exactly everyone wants her to do everything in the first place. Vague reasons involving fairy law and politics, also loyalties, etc. are bandied about and obviously if the very powerful people took care of their own shit and/or got other very powerful people to do so you wouldn't have much of a story, but as with all such things it becomes a little frustrating after a while.

I also found the book very easily telegraphed, which doesn't have to be a bad thing, but since it revolved around a mystery that sort of took away any suspense. Plus, my being able to figure out the characters' entire motivation and plot arc generally upon first introduction meant that Toby often being inexplicably oblivious about things became grating. There are insignificant things that mostly just make me do things like go "...He obviously doesn't hate you?!" at various intervals throughout the entire book. Then there are much more important things like why exactly she seems to be aware that one dude is a total fucking creeper and predator/user&abuser and is wary of it, yet also simultaneously seems to be completely flabbergasted by the idea of him being a terrible person.

At any rate.

2.5/5
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03/19/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-10 of 10) (10 new)

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Ariel For me, my main complaint was that Toby felt like a sulky rebellious adolescent more than a grown woman. She just felt so juvenile. This is how I read things like her expectation that everyone who clearly wanted to help was out to get her, and her inability to make her knowledge that creepy pedo was a creep translate.

There was a lot of things I did like about it, and for me it was an interesting case study in the difference that switching up genders makes (since the setup is fairly similar to that of the Dresden Files). It is my hope that the books will get stronger since it is the author's first book. Comparing this once again to the Dresden Files, his first few were pretty blah and then improved and then became awesome as they continued.


message 2: by R. (new) - rated it 3 stars

R. This is a very good point about Toby! It does put things in perspective. I guess that's why I felt that she was being so inexplicably and gratingly oblivious because obviously she was supposed to be a grown and worldly woman and not a sulky adolescent. If she was everything would have made a lot more sense!

I've never read the Dresden files, though, so that is a comparison I could not make.


Ariel I feel we can sort of fan-wank it into working, since the fey do have super long lifespans so she is less of the way through her life, and also the whole fish period maybe did some developmental damage?

But it does seem like it would have worked better just to make her a teenager. I do hope she grows up in the sequels.

I totally love the Dresden Files (Wizard PI in Chicago, who is just trying to do his thing but supernatural disasters and drama are always seeking him out). He is a dude, and there is a lot of damsel rescuing, but there are also awesome women characters and wonderful world building.


Esther Cotton That's pretty how much how I felt too, which makes me sad because it seems like such a good premise.


Tria If we're on the "he obviously doesn't hate you?!" and I think I know who you're talking about, that in itself is a lovely illustration of "unreliable narrator", because in one of the later books, Toby outright says that "OK, I had to keep believing you hated me because otherwise..." Paraphrased, of course, but I don't think that's too spoilery since we have named no names.


message 6: by R. (new) - rated it 3 stars

R. Tria wrote: "If we're on the "he obviously doesn't hate you?!" and I think I know who you're talking about, that in itself is a lovely illustration of "unreliable narrator", because in one of the later books, T..."

Yes, I have discussed that extensively in my reviews of later books. I do maintain throughout, however, a general complaint that the attempt to present Toby as an unreliable narrator in this fashion sometimes crosses over into irritating due to the extent of her self-denial.


Tria My apologies, I wasn't aware you'd read on. I was only looking at R&R reviews at the time. I guess I can see how it might do that, but for me I find that just helps me to get inside her head a little more. Of course everyone will see things differently; that's what makes reading anything worth it, that imagination.


Tria Well then, Vlad, you're mistaken, because plenty of us were. I read 200 books a year and I didn't expect it as early as R&R - and, indeed, it didn't pan out anywhere near that early.


message 9: by Tria (last edited Jan 02, 2014 04:21AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tria So good for you. That doesn't make you "most". Do you read a lot of books that use that particular trope? I don't.

As for your confusion...no, I don't agree with that. One side of it is fairly clear; the other is not. I don't count that as "not leaving a shred of doubt", but your definition may be different and you are of course entitled to your opinion - but please stop patronising me about mine. It's no good for my blood pressure.


message 10: by Tria (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tria All right, I read that comment once and I'm not going to read it again, because I actually want to live. I mean that in the most literal sense. It is extremely dangerous for me to lose my temper. So I'm just going to pretend we never had this conversation and only reply to the original author of the review if ze decides to say anything in response to what I've said already. I rather like being conscious and coherent, thanks. Even if you have too little compassion in you to give a damn. As for my "amazing" 200... I have a friend who reads twice as many as I do, so your sarcasm there rather falls flat. Au revoir.


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