#ADayeAMonth | Book Review of “Rosemary & Rue” (book one: October Daye series) by Seanin McGuire

Posted Saturday, 8 June, 2019 by jorielov , , , 7 Comments

#ADayeAMonth Book Review banner created by Jorie. Photo Credit: Unsplash Photographer Tim Mossholder (Creative Commons Zero)

Co-host | @FoxesFairyTale | Discussion *threads for Twitter

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Borrowed Book By: I’ve been consistantly borrowing “Rosemary & Rue” either through my local library and/or through ILL (inter-library loan) since January, 2019. I can’t even begin to remember how many times I’ve had a paperback copy of this novel on my shelf “to be read” – wherein, during January I only managed to read the first four or five chapters before my migraines disrupted my readings. I finally had a chance to extend my last local borrow of this novel until the 10th of June – re-reading those initial chapters starting on the 4th of June and thankfully being able to complete my readings of the novel before it was due back [again!].

I was not obligated to post a review in conjunction with this readalong however similar to my joy of sharing my ruminative thoughts on behalf of the #smallangryplanet RAL I participated in November, 2018 – I decided to blog my thoughts as I move through the October Daye series. Ironically, both of these series were not ones I might have picked to read myself and am thankful for the RALs and my two co-hosts (ie. Lisa @deargeekplace for #smallangryplanet + Lou @foxesfairytale) for encouraging me to take a full step outside my zones of comfort to embrace these series. I am sharing my honest reactions whilst I read “Rosemary and Rue” which was able to be done was I borrowed the well-read paperback copy from my local library system. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Why I decided to read #OctoberDaye:

Strictly speaking, my love of Urban Fantasy is the key reason I agreed to read the October Daye series combined with the fact I stumbled across the series on my own not that long ago but never actually picked up the series to read. I am uncertain if it was because I was still considering whether or not this series was actually #notmycuppa or just slightly on the upper tier of a series I could get invested into is uncertain. All I knew is when Louise pitched the idea via Twitter to host this readalong in the New Year, I felt ‘why on earth not?’

I’ve taken a lot of chances on the books I am reading – either by suggestion and/or personal wanderings within sub-niches of beloved genres or new extensions of genres I’ve previously not had the joy of sorting out if I would appreciate them or just avoid like the plaugue. Either way, I knew October Daye might either a) become a challenging read for me OR b) become a series I would really feel connected inside and for whichever reason get a wicked lot of #bookJOY out of particpating in this randomly inspired RAL for 2019.

The only downside is I never realised how LONG it would take me to actually OPEN the book (ie. the first book, mind!) and get myself firmly settled into Toby’s world. #neversawthatcoming! Secondly, the other angst in my umbrella was the fact I couldn’t contribute to the Qs for the discussion *threads Louise was kindly assembling for us and my distance in the DM convo which has been evolving through the series since we became the ragtag team of readers discussing this Urban Fantasy has been quite impressively *active!* whilst I’ve been hanging in the margins of it for far, far too long.

This Summer – rather than re-queue an attempt to devour #20BooksOfSummer because the two years I had an #epicfail of that was not enough to dissway my re-attempt at the challenge – I decided this Summer 2019, I’d rather focus on a few other things such as a) #ADayAMonth RAL, b) #ReadingValdemar RAL, c) my extensive backlogue of reviews and d) devouring a bit of my #SpooktasticReads #WyrdAndWonder choices ahead of October as a precursor of having some of those featured in the opening days of the event rather than falling further behind like I had this past May. Ooh, and did I mention JUNE is #AudiobookMonth!? No. Hmm. How did I forget THAT?!

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Rosemary and Rue Book Photography Credit: Jorie of jorielovesastory.com. Photo edits and collage created in Canva.

Rosemary and Rue
Subtitle: An October Daye novel
by Seanan McGuire
Source: Borrowed from local library

Genres: Dark Fantasy, Fantasy Fiction, Paranormal Urban Fantasy, Urban Fantasy

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-0756405717

Published by DAW Books

on 1st September, 2009

Format: Mass Market Paperback

Pages: 368

 Published By: DAW Books (@DAWBooks)
an imprint of Penguin Group USA

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The stories #JorieReads this Summer
for the #ADayeAMonth readalong:

#ADayeAMonth banner created by Jorie. Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer JR Korpa

Book One: Rosemary & Rue | (see also Lou’s Review)
Book Two: A Local Habitation
Book Three: An Artifical Night
Book Four: Late Eclipses | (see 3x mini Lou’s Reviews)
Book Five: One Salt Sea
Book Six: Ashes of Honour
Book Seven: Chimes at Midnight
Book Eight: The Winter Long

Legend: (avail via ILL) + (avail via local library)
+ (after book five OR eight I’ll rejoin the RAL group)

(*) as unsure as I am about how quickly I can get the missing books I need to be reading in order to ‘catch’ my group as their reading Six (June), Seven (July) and Eight (August) – I decided to plan ahead to where I’d either be right as rain by the end of whichever month this Summer I am able to get all the books I need through the borrowing routes I have available to me.

Formats Available: Hardback, Audiobook, Ebook and Mass Market

Converse via: #ADayeAMonth (this RAL) + #OctoberDaye (the series)

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read at your caution | might be inclusive of *spoilers*
not that I intended this,… but its a readalong & discussion based at that
thereby, i might be overly sharing *thoughts* i might not on regular reviews,…

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my review of rosemary & rue:

I distinctively remember echoing the same sentiments as Toby about cell phones – how they couldn’t possibly catch-on nor would they become this firmative appendage in our lives. And, yet. YET. They somehow wormed their way into our lives and have been part of the root reasons why we are living a bit too high technological in the ways in which our lives are more plugged in than they are unplugged. Toby is communicating with her fiancé about her daughter Gilly whilst she’s working a case – this would become a foreshadow towards how maternal she is for her daughter and how heart-wrecking she is about being removed from her life. I distinctively remembered from my first reading of Rosemary and Rue how gutting it was she had to take an abrupt exit from her life – a shattering of reality for her not just as a sentient being with thoughts, emotions and an actual life she had been living but from the stand-point of a mother who was forced to become disconnected from her daughter. That was the most brutal part of it really – how Gilly never really knew what had become of her Mum.

Toby is quite open about leading a double-life – between the human world she anchours too for Gilly and Cliff’s sake to the fey where she works as a PI for those of her kind. Through this recent case she mentions how she is working towards figuring out what became of heir to the Kingdom of the Mists (something I was hoping to better understand the framework of lateron) – as there was a kidnapping and it did not sit well with her at all. Thus, the cat and mouse through the streets of San Francisco and the time away from home when most Mums would be tucked in with domestic life. You had to give it to Toby though – for how she angled her double-life and how cleverly she spun the reasons why she would keep late hours with her family. It worked because of how similar both worlds operated and how in both instances, you’d be gone at all hours of the day or night. Not many jobs provide that kind of leverage and for Toby, it was a blessing in disguise.

One of the interesting concepts within Rosemary and Rue was how the Golden Gate Park was a carpartmentalised fiefdom of the fey! I found it wicked fascinating how even a singular tree could be its own entire entitity and sub-niche of the kingdom – such a large expanse of space and yet, within it a multitude of communities. All completely oblivious to the outside world but all readily available to be seen if you had the eyes for it. And, this is where McGuire hits you with the first paranormal punch to the gut – if people can’t see you due to the charmed spell you’ve cast on yourself than they can’t also see the crisis you’ve been placed in by your nefariously minded opponents.

What happens in the Tea Gardens is soul wrecking because instead of finding the person of interest Toby had been hunting she found out the hard way how fast the tables can become turnt on her instead. She went from PI to koi in the scope of seconds because she mistrusted her own instincts and did not see the transformational event coming – rather, she was taken unawares and due to that false sense of security in her talents, she entered into a pond without any hope of emerging out of it. When I first read that scene it was truly gutting because I realised what she was going to be giving up in that one moment of mistaking you have things under control and the realisation that you can never account for everything that can happen outside the circumstances you plan.

When Toby’s life resumes a mere fourteen years after her transfiguration into the koi pond, an old friend (Mitch) attempts to jar her out of her stoic refusal to re-step into her previous life. You could tell she just wants to blend into the background – do what was needed to exist but at this point, she really had no intentions to become emotionally re-attached to the life she had lost. And, you couldn’t blame her, really, as who would want to admit that kind of pain? Even though through Mitch you’ve had the chance to learn a bit more about the changelings in this world – how different species of the fey world were intermixing with the humans – giving them each a unique heritage and legacy but without a way of knowing how they were meant to bridge both worlds. It almost felt like the changelings here were caught betwixt and between; never really a part of either but trapped between them all the same?

The kelpie (one of the creatures I came to know through the Magical Midway during #WyrdAndWonder) Toby encounters proves how dangerous her side of San Francisco can be for a changeling but also for any non-human who chooses to live there. The streets themselves are a myriad and eclectic clustering of otherworldly species who either are benign (er, rarely?) or have nefarious intentions which may or may not be directly known to you when you first cross their path. Of all the creatures thus far mentioned, the pixies trying to takeover her Safeway were the most humourous because they weren’t aware of their mark on the store was being observed by Toby. That in of itself was rather fitting as the rest of the time, none of her human co-workers realised who she really was either.

Tybalt was quite the character – he was infuriating as much as he was annoying – it was hard to tell if he had a crush on Toby or he just took pleasure in irking her ire. I chose to error on the latter – as in Toby’s world it was easy enough to spot her enemies as much as it was to spot the people in her life who simply took pleasure in giving her a certain level of grief. Tybalt seemed to fit into the second category – whilst McGuire really honed in on his personality with his catty attributes and how stealth he was to hide in the shadows of an alley whilst the sun would rise. This was something which affected them both – how the dawning of light had an adverse effect on the fey similar to what I had remembered from my days of watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel respectively.

I loved how Toby elected to protect her door by wards (ie. the kind of charms I had spent learning more about at the Magical Midway; honestly that series helped this one seem less daunting!) – little nudges of magic wherein if anyone had chosen to mess with her place, she’d be alerted straight-off on arriving home. It was an invisible shield where the fey who set the charmed wards could tell not only if someone had entered by force but strategically could sort out whom the interloper was due to how their scent would become the mark of their identity. I wonder if anyone else in the RAL was impressed by how many individual scents Toby had managed to remember by automatic recollection?

The hardest part of October Daye’s life is the life she has lived was mostly due to a choice she had to make at an age she was too young to understand the implications. She didn’t realise what she was doing when she first answered Sylvester’s question – about being fey or human – nor were the consequences of that response ones she could fathom would have lifelong repercussions on her conscience. It is hard to believe they would ask such a question of a child who was more innocent of this dual-lifestyle (between the humans and the fey) than to give them a fair and equal chance of understanding who they were as changelings – to learn more of what that meant and then, to make the question more fair. Then, again, I have never read a story where the fey were actually fair.

When I first read that passage – I must admit, the fullness of that choice hit me square in the chest because it felt like her life was tainted from the start. She was given an invisible mark and that mark held within it a harsher reality than most would ever have to face. Especially given how it altered her mother and her mother’s reaction to Toby. When her reverie revealled how she exited the koi pond and was rescued by Evening Winterrose (ie. Evelyn Winters) – your heart grew for Toby because everyone should have a friend like that – someone who comes without judgement and does what needs doing even at a moment where nothing feels right because the whole of gravity has been removed from your feet. She had lost her daughter and her future husband – the vacuum of her life was unending whilst the future loomed with questionable silence. This is where I felt McGuire excelled at showing the spiral of Toby – of how she was funnelling into a depressive state and how the years she spent as a fish had taken the last ounce of hope she had for a life she barely understood how to live.

Knowing how much Evelyn meant to Toby, it was hard to brace for the truth of why her voicemail was alerting her of the emergency she avoided due to her inability to handle her life right now. This was the sequence I had reached in January – when I had inadvertently had to exit the novel and await til June to resume. I had a good laugh over how nonchalant Toby was about the injustices facing changelings in regards to their economic hardships as compared to the purer fey who could manipulate and manifest a living reality where caviar could become a staple over tuna and where gourmet meals were definitely a mainstay over a one pot wonder! She knew the rules and the shortcomings of her kind but she was also okay with the margins – she liked to walk between the worlds, similar to Evening who never felt at home in the Summerlands (the same place Toby’s Mum lived her life and where Evening was meant to live hers) opting instead for the hustle of Frisco. I wondered if it was because they could both blend in and blend against the tides of the city’s lifeblood moreso than they could feel they could erase themselves within fey culture?

The concept behind the ‘night haunts’ reminded me of a travelling morgue and funeral home for the fey – where their dead are taken in the wick of the night and by morning (or lateron that same night) what is left behind is a shell of the formerly deceased. Meaning, they can’t become noticed even in death and thereby they have a ‘service’ of sorts to disguise and erase what humans might have stumbled across by accident of their truer origins being fey. For the dead take their flight and in their place is a husk of a replacement which only precipitates what the humans feel the deceased would mimic rather than what could be traced as being the actual person who had died. It was an interesting concept and one that made fitting sense to be inclusive of the series. Especially as these fey were walking such a strong tightrope being alongside the humans in such a full-time kind of way.

Then, of course is the concept of blood magic – where certain fae can distinguish how someone died and how their death affected their final memories of that event. For Toby, this was one of the hardest things she could endeavour to take-on as it not only wrecked her physically but it was the brutality of the memories themselves – of having to peer into a person she admired and trusted to see how they left this world and by whatever was remembered if that could somehow point her in the direction of who took their life. Toby wasn’t a saint but she had honour and she felt a duty as a knight – something Evening helped her achieve and you had the sense Toby took this knighthood as both a duty to obey and an obligation to feel cursed. Not that that was the only curse she had to worry over right now as Evening made sure of that before she died.

When it came to Toby having to visit with the Queen (who saw NorCal as her region of interest) parts of this section of the story reminded me fondly of why I am keenly addicted to the Tipsy Fairy Tales by Ms Chris; another fey driven series wherein I didn’t know too much of the back-histories of the mythological origins of the lore, fable and legends involving the fey or any of the fantastical creatures you could easily perceive of being inclusive of both series – I still found a way to feel inserted into the drama and the evolving plots to where I didn’t soon wish to exit them.

Oy vie. That Queen really has had her due! I am unsure why the Queen felt it was necessary to take out her ire on Toby – perhaps a mixture of wrath because of how her mother and her have avoided the Court? Could a Queen be that vain to dissolve her allegiance with Toby just because of being shunned by a mother and daughter; or was there another more sinuous reason behind that abrupt departure? One that would point towards what happened to Evening and why Evening had died? Afterall, even Evening herself hinted there was a reason for all of this – for putting Toby through this adversity and of course, what particularly twisted endgame was Evening hinting at if she felt Toby could put an end to the sham she felt was already in place? That caught me. What could the fey hide from each other and from others? Sure their natures were not entirely on the up and up but what could be so insidiously amoral for them that would not seem second nature on a regular day?

I was on the fence about how I felt about Devin – clearly Toby had a history with him and it wasn’t quite the kind of history you could say you were proud of as he preyed on the (changeling) youth and sort of reminded me of that guy who was featured in that Dicken’s novel I never read but always seemed to know the story of a bit loosely round the edges. Where you could get kids to do your biding by holding something over them? It seemed like Devin was the kind of bloke who was into those kinds of checks and balances; where if you did what was expected and you did it well, you were fine but if you crossed some invisible line? Whoa. Then, of course was the intimacy factor and the newer connection to Evening – as startling as that felt for Toby, even I was questioning why Evening was aligning herself with blokes like Devin. There was something to be said for the order of the fey and how the higher bourne fey would not be dealing with the kind of help Devin would be providing. It felt like another cornerstone in the conspiracy plotting against Evening – another clue in the midst of the chaos, almost like Evening was trying to leave Toby some breadcrumbs?

Secondly of course was the not so subtle way Toby was talking about Devin – almost from a third person POV wherein she said she couldn’t forget ‘what he is and what he does’ – whatever that meant or referred to as she never expounded on that thought whilst taking his audience. It was there they traded favours like they always had – her owning a debt she didn’t like to give back in credit to Devin and he doing what she needed most but taking more than he might have been owed. It was a tap dance and you had to wonder if Toby had enough shoes to last before the dance concluded.

I loved how McGuire pulls us into Faerie with just the right turning of phrase which angles us into this ‘otherworld’ – such as how you can manipulate the fog because it is a version of water without its memory of its origins. These small tucks of insight into Toby’s fey world crossing through our mortal world were what helped me keep anchoured into the realities of her experience. I also felt she had enough odds stacked against her to where you really wanted things to equal out – to draw a balance between the improbable future she was walking towards and the future where she could find a breath of release knowing she did everything she could do even if the results weren’t what she wanted them to be. Life is like that, too, where you have to do everything you’re capable of but sometimes you fall a bit short of where you wish to be or what you hope to achieve. Somewhere somehow you have to find your own balance – right your own sails to the place where you can feel comforable in your skin and the life you’ve carved… sadly for Toby, I was unsure what would be her ideal after having lost so much the years she spent in the Pond. She was removed from her life before she was even allowed to enjoy it. She was robbed of so much – not just what you could feel on the surface of things but the deeper sections of where she wasn’t even half as sure herself who October Daye really was anymore.

This novel is emotionally cutting – it cuts to the quick and the heart of an intrapersonal experience of having to take the ashes of your life and fuse them into a new purpose because the past, the very essence of your life before a marked moment of impossible change has erased what you were and who you were to the brink you had to re-cobble together an existence you could accept as you lived forward.

The creatures in this novel are both terrifying and intriguing – take the rose goblin for instance – it looks like your favourite house cat but it has sharp spindles like a porcupine with the temperament of a wolverine! Yet, it also has the ability to be a messenger of sorts whilst half of its body is wrapped in thorns or what looks like the thorns you’d see on a rosebush. It is all together terrifying and yet, there is humour in its demeanor too, as it interacts without voice but with purpose. This was what emerged from the fog or rather what the fog was holding back from Toby to see directly; she used her changeling magical charms to draw out what was hidden in order to see it properly. What this little goblin had to give Toby linked back to Evening – back to the curse placed on Toby to solve her murder and without any foundation of knowledge how everything was connected – it rendered her with more questions than resolutions. The object in question was also curiously fey – it was made out of metal but it did not limit itself to those conditions of use or textural perimeters.

When Toby actually finds what was secreted into hiding in Evening’s office you had to question where this was all going to lead her in the end. If an object no one could name much less believe to exist does exist then what does that say about the world of Faerie? What other hidden secrets were awaiting to be found? I was not a bit surprised that when Toby realised she needed help she called on Tybalt – his character is a puzzle to me as I can’t sort out how I feel about him. Not really. He’s equally conniving and annoying but there is this ‘otherness’ to him at the same time. Perhaps I just need more scenes with him to sort out my feelings – he does seem to be the kind of person Toby would keep close but with a watchful eye.

Shortly thereafter, I was thinking I could finally get a read on Sylvester – the one person who Toby has to respect and even respond too as she’s a knight under his rule. There is a lot of medieval logic to the fey of McGuire’s world – where you have to respect the order of the world by how they align their hierarchies. It was in this instance where I nearly laughed out loud for how much Toby overcompensated by changing her ‘look’ into the formality of a dress and slippers! She outfitted herself into the kind of outfit you wouldn’t consider being her ‘type’ as it was much more fitting to her figure than most of what she regularly wore – as she had this tomboy aesthetic about her (ie. simple shirts and cosy comforting jeans) to where having to dress for the royals in her world was much more chore than joy.

I loved how Luna was described – especially as I like the kitsune aspect of this section of mythology, folklore and fairy tale cross-sections! I’ve been reading more about the kitsune in other novels of the fantastical crossed with the mythologies of the East – I readily could envision how Luna looked, including her tails. Plus, I love anything which is Earth-centred so the fact she was a gardener and loved working with the earth under her hands made her a wicked good character to become introduced, too! She’s a right smart character and I am hoping she will be inclusive of more of the stories as she seems like such a charming character to draw closer too. (note to self: according to Alex in our RAL she’s a reoccuring character)

Her gardens were quite epic – including the glass roses. This is why I love reading Fantasy! You just never know what your going to discover – each page, each chapter has the potential for giving you a new dimension of epicness and McGuire certaintly delivers on the promise of what we hope to find within her fantastical vision for this series. The more I read Rosemary and Rue the more I realised how attached I was becoming to a series I had first felt was outside my regular range of Fantasy. Odd isn’t it? These realisations as we’re reading and finding that some authors we might feel are not a good match actually become the ones we love to be reading? Of course six years into being a book blogger nothing ought to surprise me.

There is a lot of pomp and circumstance at Sylvester’s court – Quentin was a minor character who re-appeared as he is a page (at least I think he was?) who was sent to give her messages from Sylvester originally when she was still not answering mail from him. He is the kind of bloke who is traditionally caught in this world where he is questioning his duty against the yearning to think for himself and perhaps break a few tradtions along the way. There is an interesting conversation between him and Toby whilst she’s there – one that makes you consider how much needs to change in this world of Faerie and how much there is against the change that is needed most. I am hopeful this won’t be the last we see of Quentin as he is one of the supporting cast I was enjoying due to his nature and his ability to get past Toby’s internal defences.

I knew there would be a moment in this story that would take me unawares and off guard. Finding the scene where Toby is about to be cut down the same way as Evening was about as emotionally gutting as you can get because it left me on shocked pins until I saw or rather nearly heard Tybalt’s voice myself as he called to her in the Tea Gardens. You’re just not prepared for that moment…

I wasn’t sure if was wishful thinking on her part OR if Tybalt really was there – I had almost thought it should be Lily who finds Toby and in the end, that is whom rescued her at the Gardens. I was nervous for Toby – View Spoiler » strickly because the ways in which she was leading her life would put her in the crosshairs of people who did not want her making the kind of enquiries Evening expected of her to do.

If I had any second guessing to do about Tybalt’s honour and counterance – it was erased when the moment came where he became a hero for Toby. Whilst I grieved alongside Julie over the loss of Ross, what was quite impressive is how gallantly Tybalt fought to protect Toby. I know it was said it was on the basis of her pending debts for he was aiding her in regards to the mission Evening had entrusted to her but something clicked in me that said Tybalt’s actions were not that shallow. He didn’t reveal much at times but sometimes it was his actions which spoke more than the words. Of course this also depends if Toby quits her bad choices in regards to her personal affairs as she has a bit of a train wreck history by how she chooses her men.

I was most shocked and surprise by how Devin helped Toby – after the assault which nearly took her life (for the second time!) wherein Tybalt came to the rescue, it was Devin who was awaiting her arrival back home. I almost thought by home Tybalt meant for her to seek out Devin anyway, as that’s the name of the place he operates and where he takes in the changelings. However, this time home referred to where Toby actually lives and it just happens that Devin was there ready to give her the medical attention she deserved but also the tenderness she wasn’t expecting out of him. Those two were as complicated as any oppositional personalities can make themselves but their relationship was equally edgy as Tybalt’s and Toby’s. If anything, it made for a curious triangle – wherein I am unsure if we would readily know logistically early in the series to whom Toby would choose to have in her life as both of them gave her something she needed. I, personally wouldn’t consider Devin a good choice – he was too controlling and he has this way about him I simply did not trust – almost like he was still finding ways to use Toby and muddling it with an emotional attachment.

Whoa. I ought to be used to Toby getting into fixes like this – like the one she’s facing with a doppelganger who looks like her daughter Gilly (now that was just too cruel to be funny) but there is just a part of me which wished Toby could come out of one nightmaric attack and have some down-time before the next one begins! She has gone through so much so quickly since Evening’s death it felt cruel-hearted to subject her to more – even though, if you think on it, would they really have let off the pressure? They wanted what Evening entrusted to her and what Tybalt was guarding for her – this is where I kept thinking I’m missing something keenly important about this whole plot! Someone was behind this and I had a feeling it was someone I had either overlooked or dismissed whilst I opted instead to sink into Toby’s life and world. Series are like that – you never know what you need to focus on until its too late to realise what was important and what was just smoke and mirrors (ie. distractions).

As Devin swings back into Toby’s life – seemingly for the purpose of what he intends, I kept having a nagging feeling he was holding back his real reasons for helping her – almost to the point where he was nearly revealling his intentions through clouded messages. There was a moment where in a conversation View Spoiler » – that left a clue in my mind that a lot of the people she’s interacting with have ulterior motives for keeping her close in their lives. Devin is as shady as they come and he gives shade like its going out of popularity. He’s like one of those pawn brokers who dabbles in loan sharking? You know he’s hustling even when he’s being coy about it – that’s where the truer danger lies – where you can’t see what he’s holding out of sight.

Nothing quite prepares you for the ending of a story you’ve felt so dearly hinged inside since you first began reading it. This one packs quite the punch – there is more sadness in the lives which were innocently lost and the heartache of realising that Toby was blindsided by her own inability to see the true nature of those of whom she kept close to her but never should have at all. She was taken down a path to seek a Quest not of her choosing but of the earnest hope that what she would reveal would somehow honour Evening. It was Evening who wanted Toby’s eyes to become awakened – to see what she could never have seen without her nudging and there lies part of the redemption for the grievances caused against her and others who never needed to learn a lesson whose price was higher than what they could give in blood. For this was a story carved out of a blood memory and the price for that knowledge was steeper than what most would have been able to endure. Except for Toby because when it comes to October Daye, she’s the one you don’t bet against – she’s the unsuspecting heroine who never wanted to be anyone’s hero.

favourite characters thus far:

Tybalt: He’s a hard nut to crack as they say – you gather he’s interested in Toby but his interests aren’t the easiest to sort through because he has a lot of attitude clouding the truth of his actions. He’s the kind of bloke who gives you grief but would defend your honour the second you were in mortal danger (which of course, happens!). I found him interesting on the level that you just never know what he’s going to say and I had a feeling he might be smitten with Toby on a personl level but unsure if she would ever entertain that idea of them being together. I could be wrong.

Lily: Similar to Evening (whom would have made this list but she was unfortunately taken out of the story too early) she has a caring and compassionate heart but she has a hard road to walk because of what she’s in charge of in regards to the fey and the changelings. You saw a different side of her when Toby was nursing the wounds she had been afflicted with by Evening’s assailant. She had a mothering instinct in her that I think Evening did not necessarily have herself as she was more the woman who took charge of things whereas I think Lily tried to compensate to do what she could for those who came to her Gardens.

Quintin: Definitely something about this bloke which was intriguing. He was the typical person caught between tradition and being a free thinker. It will be interesting to see his growth in the rest of the series and/or if he opts to choose tradition over modern thinking. I also felt there was more to him than just delivering messages for Sylvester but I could be wrong on that score too.

Luna: Finding out she was kitsune was enough for me to feel connected to her as I love Asian mythologies (since #Mythothon) but it was more to the fact she had a connection to the Earth. She loved to grow things and she loved finding the spirit of the gardens through how she cultivated the flowers. I definitely was eager to see more scenes with her and to learn more about her overall.

Julie: (a bit more than Dare) Julie felt like a twin of Toby – they both had similar personalities even if Toby mentioned that Julie can share her feelings without the anguish Toby feels whenever she attempts not to repress hers; I felt she was an interesting character and being part Cait Sidhe was partially why I liked her a bit moreso than Dare. Dare was alright but I had a feeling she might have more of a chip on her shoulder than Julie. Julie fought hard and won hard; she was like Toby in that regard. She lived her life on the edge and she held on with all her strength whenever she found someone she dared to care after. I also like how she’s connected to Tybalt – as an adopted (or thereabouts) niece as her origins are slightly complicated.

Danny: (the Bridge Troll) I had a good feeling about this character – he was only briefly seen but there was something he said which made me think he might be back in the series lateron because of his past history and connection to Toby.

Connor: (the Selkie) I wasn’t sure at first if I liked Connor but after what he did to help Toby get out of the water before she could fully panic about being back in the water was golden. He is an adorable friend to Toby even if he is severely misguided especially when it comes to his affection for Toby. I was hoping they’d stay friends rather than become anything more – as I had a feeling it would be best if these two kept their distance.

I am connected to Toby, too, but I was trying to highlight the characters surrounding Toby in regards to which one of those were making an impression on me.

Small fly in the Ointment:

I had a suspicion before I started reading this series there was going to be strong language – it almost went without question. Similar to my readings of #smallangryplanet, I chose to overlook this to seek out the heart of the story rather than to focus on my disdain of seeing a lot of strong pepperings of words and phrases I would generally try to avoid seeing in the stories I enjoy reading. From the beginning, this didn’t seem to be a story that would be overtly strong in such flutterings and I was hopeful the series would track within a thread of tolerance where I could read the stories but not feel I was sacrificing my own preferences for language.

When it comes to RALs I try to stay even more open to stories than I would during my regular jaunts into genres because of the nature of readalongs in general. They are meant to be challenging in the same vein as a book club and thereby, sometimes your not necessarily picking an author, series or story you might pick up yourself to read. Thus, different rules would automatically apply to how you approach reading them.

As an aside, the snark directed towards Tinker Bell did not surprise me but evenso, being that I loved Tinker Bell as a kid it did rankle a bit to see how she was reduced to the kind of angst Toby was giving her – even if I could plausibly understand why it was just a brief moment of oy vie for me as a reader.

After concluding the story, I am happy to report the inclusions in stronger words is more annoying than it is overt. In fact, generally speaking – there is a limited amount of words to even roll your eyes over because most of the dialogue and word usage is cleverly spun into a different set of phrasing altogether! I really liked McGuire’s instincts for creating this sub-language and phrases her characters love to use – especially how Toby herself chooses to express her anger – it was a very enjoyable read from that perspective.

on the urban fantastical & paranormal styling of seanan mcguire:

McGuire has set her fantastical story right in the midst of urban life – a perfect blend of normalcy from the humanistic perspective and the fey whilst she gives you the strongest of impressions that perhaps the veil between both worlds is not nearly as indiscreet as it might appear to be. Her turns of phrase and the symbolism therein is part of what drew me into this alternative world. She has this interesting way of talking about this alt. view of the world she’s created – it is equally defined by the fey but also concurrently in-line with where the humans of this world are as well. Almost as if the world is spliced in view – from the fantastical underbelly of the fey and the interconnections with where their world intersects with ours.

It did not surprise me that the word ‘rue’ within the title of Rosemary and Rue had origins from Shakespeare. Though how that had bearing of insight on the story itself was lost of me for most of it as this was one part of the Bard’s influence I was not as keen on knowing about as it referenced the one story of his I never felt inclined to read nor study. The ironcy of that.

I loved how McGuire would speak about Faerie almost in the omnipresence thread in the narrative – giving you insight into world the humans would never understand but also giving a breadth of texture to how this world was augmented differently than our own. The rules weren’t the only dividing factors and there was a lot of groundwork to encompass in order for things to align in such a way for you to understand more than you questioned of Faerie. In this way, I liked how she had Toby discussing the ins/outs of Faerie whilst those moments also felt they were secondary to Toby’s own timeline of interest. Almost like we needed to pause a bit to see Toby’s worldview before we could better sync ourselves into her own path to walk.

In regards to the medical depictions (of which there are quite a few!):

I was wicked happy that the depictions within Rosemary and Rue were not overly graphic nor were they gruesome to the level I endured within the pages of A Knife in the Fog which really took me out of my depth for where I wanted Crime Fiction to take me. She gave you the descriptions which warranted the context of the story but without the grisly bits you’d expect out of a Hard-Boiled Mystery which this one brokers against whilst remaining Urban Fantasy. In essence, I liked how she handled the more violent aspects of Toby’s life against the background of Faerie where this world really was battling through their own kind of war and imbalance between their species and the politics of the world itself.

Fantastical elements:

→ the Fae and the changelings (half fae, half human)

→ Charms and Magical Illusions

→ Magical Scents

→ Cats, funnily enough are companions of the fey

→ Death by “iron” (its as BAD as it sounds)

→ All the lovely creatures & species herein to this world (ie. Cait Sidhe for instance are the cats and shifters of Faerie) where I litreally enjoyed getting to know each of them individually, observing their personal quirks and seeing how McGuire shaped their uniqueness into physical traits

→ Not your ‘ordinary’ key

McGuire doesn’t rest on subtlety as she immediately places you into Toby’s world from the fact she can sort out a charm to prevent her fae eyes from seeing a person’s true essence to the fact before you can even blink, you know you’re reading an Urban Fantasy crossed with a Dark Fantasy involving the fae. The emotional punches come just as bluntly as you first begin Rosemary and Rue as well – giving you a firm grounding of being in Toby’s world.

I was intrigued by the concept of ‘magical scents’ – wherein Toby could identify someone strictly based on the ordour they left in the air.

By Fae logic – Toby is a changeling – meaning, she isn’t 100% pure and because of this mark against her, she can’t perform the same level of ‘fae magic & illusions’ as the rest of the fae which becomes more apparent the closer she gets to those who have the abilities she lacks in herself. This can also affect how she sees them and how the charms they cast to throw her off the mark of finding them can represent its own issues for both recognition and identification.

Some of the charms and illusions were everyday magical bits – like how Toby gained entrance into Evening’s building by saying a bit of dribble and magically charming her way past the guard – allowing him to believe what he wished and not the truth of whom had asked to be let past him. In some ways these kinds of charms of the fey are like an immediate invisibility option for when you need to be seen but not recognised and/or recognised but left unseen.

When it came to finding the object Evening wanted Toby to have and then having that said object perform acts of magic in ways even Toby hadn’t expected was part of the joy in reading those sections of the novel! Especially as there was a cheekiness to how the object came to life and how it used these moments to aide Toby in what she was doing. The irony of course is that it was a more watered down way of saying not all of magic is as complex as people think it is which is another way of saying not all of life is as complicated as humans make it out to be.

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This marks my first review for my co-hosted RAL:

#ADayeAMonth banner created by Jorie. Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer JR Korpa

Two of my fellow RAL readers have blogged about *Rosemary & Rue*:

Louise @ foxesfairytale.wordpress.com | Read her reactions

& Nicole @ bookwyrmknits.wordpress.com | Read her reactions (from 2016)
*it should be said, Nicole joined our RAL starting at book four

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And, the book bloggers I stumbled across who’ve read #Rosemary & Rue*:

I didn’t just visit and read these blogs, I left comments which may or may not be visible if/when you click through to read what their thoughts entailed. I know everyone mods their blogs differently. and tries to release commentary as fast and as best we all can who mod our blogs.

“Rosemary & Rue” | Grimdark Dad

“Rosemary & Rue” | Elaine Howlin, Literary Blogger

“Rosemary & Rue” | Pearls Cast Before a McPig

“Rosemary & Rue” | To Write These Words Down,…

“Rosemary & Rue” | Jessiculates

“Rosemary & Rue” | Quirky Cats Fat Stacks of Books

“Rosemary & Rue” | Bookshelf Fantasies

“Rosemary & Rue” | Derailments of Thoughts

“Rosemary & Rue” | Feeling Fictional

“Rosemary & Rue” | Reading, Writing, Rithmancy

“Rosemary & Rue” | K.N. Salustro

“Rosemary & Rue” | Chapter Break

“Rosemary & Rue” | Tales from the Nerdy

“Rosemary & Rue” | I Smell Sheep

“Rosemary & Rue” | BrainFluff

“Rosemary & Rue” | Books by Proxy

“Rosemary & Rue” | Happy Indulgence

“Rosemary & Rue” | Silk Screen Views

“Rosemary & Rue” | Gossamer Obsessions

“Rosemary & Rue” | Curiosity Killed the Bookworma

I decided NOT to go back to 2011 – I did go as far back as I dared,…

IF anyone has read this novel & the review is still active on your blog and/or a blog you either a) frequently read and/or b) is a personal friend – kindly let me know where to find it in the comments as I am enjoying re-engaging with different POVs and takeaways for this series!

(*) note: the only reviews without commentary by me were the ones which either a) only allowed Goggle comments and/or b) comments were CLOSED to new comments

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Remember to revisit my Announcement Page for updated links for future reviews & discussion for the readings I’ll be participating in for the October Daye series and this particular RAL.

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Reading this novel counted towards my 2019 reading goals:

Beat the Backlist banner created by Austine at A Novel Knight and is used with permission.

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{SOURCES: #ADayeAMonth Book Review banner created by Jorie. Photo Credit: Unsplash Photographer Tim Mossholder (Creative Commons Zero). #ADayeAMonth banner created by Jorie. Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer JR Korpa. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Beat the Backlist banner provided by Novel Knight. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: Wyrd And Wonder Book Review badge and the comment box banner.}

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I’m a social reader | I tweet my readerly life

Meanwhile, what my #ADayeAMonth readers also felt about “Rosemary & Rue”:

Although I’ll be blogging my Discussion of “Rosemary & Rue” separately here is the #ADayeAMonth group chat *thread wherein we pitched our responses:

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Saturday, 8 June, 2019 by jorielov in Book Review (non-blog tour), Cats and Kittens, Crime Fiction, Dark Fantasy, Death, Sorrow, and Loss, Faeries & the Fey, Fairy Tale Fiction, Fantasy Fiction, Fly in the Ointment, Folklore and Mythology, Immortals, Shapeshifters, Supernatural Creatures & Beings, Supernatural Fiction, Suspense, Urban Fantasy, Urban Life, Vulgarity in Literature

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7 responses to “#ADayeAMonth | Book Review of “Rosemary & Rue” (book one: October Daye series) by Seanin McGuire

  1. I loved reading your thoughts on this, it took me back to starting the series. To be honest, the first book was not my favourite, don’t get me wrong though – I didn’t dislike it or anything, just, and I’ve found this with most of the UF series I’ve read so far, you have to be patient with the first instalment because it’s doing all the groundwork. That being said, I read this series as a readalong which was really good for pulling out extra information that I’d maybe not picked up on or had different thoughts about.
    As the series has developed though – wow! I love it. I need to catch up which I’m trying to do at the moment with a couple of series that I’ve got behind with.
    Lynn :D

    Lynn Williams recently posted: Bookish opinions: good, bad and ugly
    • Hallo, Hallo Lynn,

      To be honest, I’m still compiling my thoughts into the discussion post where I’ll tip my hat towards sorting out my final thoughts as they pertain to “Rosemary and Rue”. As a series opener, I was most surprised by how well I soaked into the atmosphere of the world-building, how close I felt to Toby (as she’s wholly unique and early different than most characters I gravitate towards) and just to understand the breadth of the world McGuire etched out for me to find – that was the ‘a-ha’ moment for me – realising that I could find traction and have a bit of fun moving through the series after I finished this first installment.

      Hmm… I haven’t encountered that issue with the other UF I’ve read in the past – as with Ms Chris’s Tipsy Fairy Tales, I just adore each of them so dearly and with Silver Hollow.. I could have spent more hours there that’s for sure.

      In regards to RALs… one thing I love about them is what you’ve already expressed – digging deeper and reading more intensively whilst being about to generate the convos with your fellow readers!!

      PS: I’m now doubly eager to move on in the series based on your final takeaway!! Are you straight through to the 12th novel or are you somewhere in the middle?

      • Where am I up to?? Let me think – I think I’m up to No.7 or 8 and loving it.
        Yes, probably a bit of a sweeping statement so not totally spot on – but, when I picked up Toby Daye, Mercy Thompson and Harry Dresden – I didn’t immediately adore the first books but they all worked out so well for me from there on – not that I disliked any of them (or I wouldn’t have continued) but they didn’t wow me immediately I suppose. I’m so glad I continued with them all though.
        PS – love your blog :D

        • You’re post script made me SMILE as wide as the moon!! :) *big hugs* I appreciate the feedback and what a wonderful way to begin Tuesday!!

          I can see what you mean now — once you felt that full effect of immersion take over you just didn’t feel like you could extract yourself as easily as within the first books because you were fully rooted. It just took you a bit longer to feel that deeper connection and once it was there, I can see why you were celebrating! That is the feeling we all long to have whenever a story is resonating with us – irregardless of ‘where’ it happens in a series. :) :)

          • Exactly that. Well said. I only really make the point because I love the series and I want everyone else to read it too :D
            I’ve just checked my Toby Daye reads and I’m up to No.9 – so must get on with that soon, especially as it’s sat waiting patiently on my kindle.
            Lynn :D

  2. If you already think Tybalt has a crush on Toby, then book 2 is going to be a wild ride :D I wish I wasn’t in Porto when you read it :( It has so many little moments that I love. (And Quentin is going to be around more! Connor, too, but Quentin has better moments :D)

    • Ooh dear, ohh my!! Really and truly!? Hmm.. that might be good tidings though as like we were discussing privately through DMs, I just find Tybalt fascinating *and!* I know there is more to him than we already know about — so, if “A Local Habitation” delves more into their quasi-relationship all the better!! Of course it could also be about that tango they’ve been dancing, too!! lol

      Thanks for letting me know about Quentin & Connor, I do appreciate it!!!

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