Happy Labor Day, everyone!
Since we finished OfBlood and Honey by Stina Leicht last Monday, we’re due for a new book. Today, we start Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire, the first in her series about October (Toby) Daye, a changeling PI, who can’t escape the fairy world, no matter how hard she tries.
For those of you just joining us for these reads, the idea is to promote a good author, have some fun, and learn something from their work. To that end, enjoy!
Toby Daye, changeling knight acting as a private investigator for Duke Sylvester, her liege lord, is trailing Simon, his twin brother and the potential kidnapper of the duke’s wife and daughter. She tails him to the Tea Gardens in San Francisco, where he meets Oleander, an evil but innocent-ish looking fae. Too late, Toby realizes that she’s been lured there. Simon freezes her so she can’t even scream, then turns her into a koi. Only because a passerby kindly dumps her into the water does she survive to spend her next fourteen years as a fish, leaving behind her fiancé and her little daughter, Gilly.
Reader Comments: Ouch, that’s a cruel fate. I wonder how her fiancé and daughter feel and how they will feel when she shows back up, assuming she does.
Writer Comments: Prologues are a sticky subject. Some people say they should never be used. Others contest that they have their place. McGuire, in my opinion, uses her prologue effectively. If she opened chapter one with Toby saying, “After fourteen years of swimming around as a koi, I finally regained my human form, but unfortunately, I missed my daughter growing up and a huge chunk of my life. And I failed my liege because I didn’t manage to nab the guy who kidnapped his daughter and wife,” it wouldn’t have nearly the impact of this tension filled prologue. The theoretical summary I gave if there was no prologue lacks emotional grab. McGuire’s actual prologue makes a reader feel for Toby before she destroys her life.
Fourteen years later, Toby works as a check-out girl at a Safeway in San Francisco to avoid everyone, especially the fae. Yet, everywhere she turns, she can’t avoid them, and in their own ways they try to pull her back. Toby works nights to avoid being caught out at dawn, the time of day when all small magic, including her illusion that makes her appear human, fades. This time, she doesn’t quite make it home before sunrise and is caught in an alley with Tybalt, one of the last fae she’d like to share the experience with. Tybalt takes great joy in hating and taunting her.
Reader Comments: I can understand why Toby is avoiding everyone. How does she explain her disappearance and reappearance to the humans in her life? How does she hurt them that way? How does she avoid getting hurt further? And her association with the fae got her into this mess to begin with, so why interact with them at all? Naturally, this will all get more complicated before it gets better, but I do hope that she at least reunites with her daughter in this book.
Writer Comments: This chapter expands the world McGuire writes quite a bit. Pixies, other changelings, kelpies, and Tybalt reveal layers of fairy society and interactions. Little things, like enchantments, and bigger things, like the dawn, expand layer upon layer of the world. McGuire is building a large play set, I suspect, and that translates into a wide range of stories and a more believable setting. Nothing is ever simple, so no setting should be simple either.
Thank you for joining me for our first week of Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire. Join me next Monday to see what’s in store for Toby and how long she can run from the fae before they truly catch her. Remember, starting this week, there will be no Wednesday post, but I’ll be back Friday with more about books, fiction, the speculative, and life. Have a safe and fun Labor Day.