Welcome back to this review and commentary of Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire. Toby, our changeling heroine suffering under a curse to find her friend’s murderer, has just gotten away from Home, a place for castaway changelings, few of whom ever escape.
Exhausted from her overly traumatic and eventful night, Toby pulls over to the side of the road for just a few moments to collect herself. Something taps at her window. When she looks up, a dense, unnatural fog has fallen. She steps out of her car and finds a rose goblin perched on her hood with the precious key that Evening sent away tied around its neck. Toby takes the key and decides to check out Third Road Enterprises, Evening’s company in the human world.
Reader Comments: I like the fact that McGuire includes a huge range of creatures in this book. We may only see them for a few pages, but the number and variety makes the world feel bigger and more complicated, which in turn makes it more intriguing.
Writer Comments: Pulling over to the side of the road, a fog rolling in, something tapping on the window, and, naturally, like some horror film, the heroine steps out of her car to check it out. Naturally, when Toby did this, my pulse picked up and I started chanting, “No, Toby. Stay in the car. You dumb girl. You’re going to get killed.” Of course, Toby didn’t heed a single word I said, but McGuire also didn’t play the hand I expected. Because of a reference Toby makes about bad horror film tropes in this scene, I suspect McGuire was somewhat aware of what her readers might think when they saw the fog and heard the tap-tap on Toby’s car window. Tropes can be useful. As a writer, knowing them can help you avoid them and help you play with them to your advantage. Just make sure that, if you use them, the twist or the payoff is worth it.
With the help of the magic key, Toby sneaks into Third Road Enterprises. She has no idea what she’s looking for, but the key seems to know what’s needed. It leads her to a filing cabinet and a locked drawer. When Toby gets it open, she finds a hope chest, a fairy artifact of rare and tremendous power. It’s extremely fortunate she found it first, but hiding it before the bad guys come to collect becomes her highest priority.
Reader Comments: Up until this point, Toby has had a long string of bad luck and odds thoroughly stacked against her. I’ve enjoyed this a great deal. This chapter felt too easy. Everything went her way. I hope it means that she’s about to run into some extraordinary difficulties.
Writer Comments: This chapter closes with Toby saying that the safest place to hide the hope chest is with an enemy. This gave me a shiver of excitement, the sort that makes you rub your hands together in anticipation. I had a suspicion that this enemy would be Tybalt, and to my great pleasure, his name is the first word of the next chapter. It’s always good to end a chapter on a dangerous, looming, unsettled, or any other note that does not lend itself to resolution. It’s even better to make certain that the payoff of that note satisfies your reader.