Rosemary and Rue ~ Seanan McGuire

  • Title: Rosemary and Rue
  • Author: Seanan McGuire
  • Series: October Daye #1
  • Genre: Urban Fantasy
  • Format: Audio book
  • Source: Library
  • Reviewed by: DarthVal
  • Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Description:  October “Toby” Daye, a changeling who is half human and half fae, has been an outsider from birth. After getting burned by both sides of her heritage, Toby has denied the Faerie world, retreating to a “normal” life. Unfortunately for her, the Faerie world has other ideas…

The murder of Countess Evening Winterrose pulls Toby back into the fae world. Unable to resist Evening’s dying curse, which binds her to investigate, Toby must resume her former position as knight errant and renew old alliances. As she steps back into fae society, dealing with a cast of characters not entirely good or evil, she realizes that more than her own life will be forfeited if she cannot find Evening’s killer.

Review:  Rosemary and Rue is the first book of the October Daye urban fantasy series. It is also the first time I’ve experienced any books by author, Seanan McGuire. For a first book, it holds a lot of promise.

The story follows reluctant fae investigator October “Toby” Daye. She is a changling, half fae, who has tried to distance herself from her heritage and hide away from her problems in the human world. Unfortunately, she is compelled to investigate the murder of a close friend and member of the fae royalty or risk her own life.

Toby’s character fits into the fragile strength mold. She is wounded and flawed, but her intelligence and resourcefulness carry her through. The author keeps her focused on the mystery at hand, although she does occasionally drift off into the land of woe is me. While she is not a stand-out character, she has enough potential for the reader to root for her.

In addition to Toby, we are introduced to entire of ensemble of vibrant characters, who I suspect will turn up in future books. Many of these characters are cast with ambiguity, leaving a lot of room for the world to grow and blossom. She also casts many of the fae in a very anthropomorphic fashion. Take for example Tybalt, Lord of the Cats, a character for which I have a particular fondness. His self-interest manifests itself in a fashion totally fitting feline fashion, as do his speech patterns and mannerisms. I sense this cat-like character has at least as many hidden layers as a cat has lives.

The world building uses the basic framework of fae mythology and then diverges into McGuire’s interpretation. She focuses a lot of attention on the challenges faced by the changlings who fit into neither the human nor the fae realm. Again, there is nothing particularly striking about this world, but it has potential.

There is enough adventure in this book to make it fun. Plus, McGuire does a good job of weaving in elements of future intrigue. It is enough to throw the reader off the trail to solve the mystery at hand, yet not so much that it leaves one frustrated by lack of closure at the end. There is clearly more story to be told, as you would expect with the start of a series.

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Hounded ~ Kevin Hearne

  • Title: Hounded
  • Author: Kevin Hearne
  • Series: The Iron Druid Chronicles #1
  • Genre: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy
  • Format: eBook
  • Source: Own Copy
  • Reviewed by: Sonja
  • Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Description:  The first novel in the original, six-book Iron Druid Chronicles—introducing a cool, new, funny urban fantasy hero

Atticus O’Sullivan, last of the Druids, lives peacefully in Arizona, running an occult bookshop and shape-shifting in his spare time to hunt with his Irish wolfhound. His neighbors and customers think that this handsome, tattooed Irish dude is about twenty-one years old—when in actuality, he’s twenty-one centuries old. Not to mention: He draws his power from the earth, possesses a sharp wit, and wields an even sharper magical sword known as Fragarach, the Answerer.

Unfortunately, a very angry Celtic god wants that sword, and he’s hounded Atticus for centuries. Now the determined deity has tracked him down, and Atticus will need all his power—plus the help of a seductive goddess of death, his vampire and werewolf team of attorneys, a sexy bartender possessed by a Hindu witch, and some good old-fashioned luck of the Irish—to kick some Celtic arse and deliver himself from evil.

Review:  This book really rates probably about 3.5 stars. And, it may actually be 4, but for the “expectations” scale. That is, based on the reviews, I expected more from this book than it delivered to me. My mind frequently wandered, and that is never a good thing. The druid based magic system was very intriguing. I really liked the tattoo idea and the relationship to the earth. The logic and reasoning for the final battle also felt very in character and I do not think I would have accepted any other argument. I am still a bit confused as to the gods and goddesses and fae and Tuatha De Dannan and how they relate to each other. (I also appreciated the author’s presentation of Irish pronunciations – and his permission to pronounce any which way I chose.)

As a dog lover, I adored Oberon. Was it a little over the top? Maybe. But, I didn’t mind. Unfortunately, Atticus’ relationship with Oberon is really the only ongoing “relationship” in the story – I really missed an emotional connection to any other character in the book. I strongly suspect this is to be corrected in the next book as some seemed to be being set-up in this novel – obviously the first in a series. That being said, he is very kind to the old widow down the street – and obviously cared – but it is a very peripheral relationship.

And, the contemporariness of Atticus bothered me. Here is this thousands of years old druid – yet he talks and acts as if he really *is* 21. I certainly understand the need for him to blend in with others his apparent age, but I should still think that there should be some age and wisdom visible to the reader – and there really is not. In addition, his reaction to every female in the novel was on a visceral level, as if there were no other reason to relate to a person of the opposite gender.

I did enjoy this book. I certainly did not feel myself immersed in his world. I did feel like it was setting up characters for more novels. As such, I am undecided as to whether or not I actually cared enough to see where they go: part of me thinks there is so much more to Atticus and part of me really wonders.