Author: Seanan McGuire
Released: September 1st 2009
I’ve always felt like one’s opinion of a book could dramatically change depending on the mood of the reader, and Rosemary and Rue has confirmed that theory, as far as I’m concerned. I first tried reading this book about 5 years ago (okay, it was more than that) and I just wasn’t feeling it. So I put it back on my shelf and walked away from it.
Recently I found myself desperately needing a book to read. I needed an escape, but more than that, I needed a book that I could emotionally connect to. Rosemary and Rue became that book. I can’t believe that I didn’t fall in love with this book the first time around, but I’m so happy that I gave it a second chance.
This time around, I found myself connected to Toby’s character. Having been going through a loss myself recently, I felt Toby’s pain right from the beginning. It made the whole series so much more real for me. Yes, that absolutely made it harder for me in some ways. But it also helped me process some real and raw emotions that I was personally going through…and for that I’ll always be grateful for this book.
Moving on to talking about the actual book now; Rosemary and Rue is the first in a decent sized series -the fourteenth book is coming out this fall. I’m personally hoping to finish the series before it’s out, so we’ll see how that one goes! Along with the complete novels are a bunch of short stories and novellas. If you want to track them all down I’d suggest using Goodreads, it at least gives you an idea of where to find the others (some require you to be a Patreon for Seanan McGuire, and I’m not ashamed to admit I happily did just that, but mostly because I wanted to support this amazing author).
Rosemary and Rue is first, and foremost, a Changeling story. Toby Daye is a Changeling herself, and while she’s absolutely had her rough patches in life, the fact that she’s still kicking speaks a lot to her stubbornness (and luck, don’t forget luck).
I love that this novel accurately captured how brutal and devastating a Changeling life can be. Too often we see the romanticized versions of the tale, but you have to remember the origins of their mythology…and it isn’t pretty. Well, it can be, but usually the really pretty things can eat you, so keep that in mind.
I should probably have mentioned before now that I’m a huge fae snob. While I love fairy tales and fae stories, I always feel like I’m on the hunt for that one good series I can really sink my teeth into. I think I found that in October Daye, and I sincerely couldn’t be happier about that. I really do regret not getting into this series earlier, as in so many ways has this been the series I’ve been looking for.
I love that Seanan McGuire touched upon many of the rules and flaws of the fae. While it’s not uncommon to see stories touch upon the whole fae bargain side of things, it not exactly common either. There were other little moments too, that build up and make the world (and its troubles) so much more immersive. Like all the vulnerabilities of the fae, and worse, the vulnerabilities of Changelings. Of all the laws they have to abide by. Laws that are set in by their very nature. I loved all these little details, and it has me looking forward to starting the next book.
I can tell you the exact moment that this book lost me in my original read; it was the end of the first chapter. That wasn’t even remotely fair of me, looking back then. I wish I had kept reading past that point, because I know I would have fallen in love with this book. So if you’re like past me, and you’re struggling during and after the first chapter, please just give it at least one more chapter before you make your choice. Hopefully you’ll find it worth it. I know I did!
Toby is a complicated character, but in a good way. She’s had a lot thrown at her during her relatively short life (compared to a fae, that is), but she seems to always find a way to just keep on going. It’s impossible not to respect that in a character. She protects herself by wrapping a harsh persona around herself, but inside she’s truly a caring person. As much as she wants the world to believe otherwise, Toby does care. If she didn’t she wouldn’t have been motivated to do half the things she did in this novel. She certainly wouldn’t have gone out of her way to make the Changeling kids she came across happier – yes, I know her attempts didn’t always work out, but that doesn’t change the fact that she tried.
This may be a bit obvious, but I want to state it anyway. This series will get you to feel. You’ll feel the pain and loss that Toby experiences, again and again. You’ll feel every time she tries to save someone, every time she runs for her life. If you’re anything like me, you’ll devour this book as quickly as possible, just so you can get to the end and breathe a bit easier; knowing how it all ends.
Speaking of; if you’re anything like me you’re going to be stressed about Toby’s two adorable cats. I’m not going to lie, there were at least three scenes where I had to skip ahead to confirm that the cats were alive and okay at the end of scene before I could move forward. While I won’t give away any details, I will say that the cats are okay, or at least I saw no indication to believe otherwise. And if I’m wrong, don’t go telling me that. Just let me live in my little fantasy world a little bit longer.
All in all I really couldn’t be happier that I gave this series another try. I don’t even want to think about how many years I wasted not reading the series. Truth be told, as much as I’ve complained about it, I’m glad this book was here for me now, when I needed it the most. So in the end, it really worked out for me.