This read along of Rosemary and Rue was organized by the SF/F Read Along group on Goodreads, and has been broken down into four parts and participants are asked some questions on what they think so far.
There WILL be spoilers beyond this point – and Squeeing, lots and lots of squeeing!
As I’ve already mentioned, here is the breakdown of chapters listed here.
Week 1: Saturday 9th January, Chapters 1-6, hosted by Over the Effing Rainbow
Week 2: Saturday 16th January, Chapters 7-14, hosted by Lynn at Lynn’s Books
Week 3: Saturday 23rd January, Chapters 15-20, hosted by Anya at On Starships and Dragonwings
Week 4: Saturday 30th January, Chapters 21-End, hosted by Over the Effing Rainbow
Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire.
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…
Rosemary and Rue is the first book in the fantastic ongoing October Daye series of Urban Fantasy books by Seanan McGuire, who won the 2010 John W. Campbell Award for this novel. There are currently at time of writing this post, 9 full length novels in the series plus almost countless short stories and novellas.
On this post (that you, a human – are hopefully reading) I’m compiling all of the questions asked each week, along with MY answers and thoughts. For me this was a re-read, which is why sometimes I’m going to be referring to my “initial thought” that I remembered having on my first ever read of this book.
Now, enough waffling… On with the show!
Week 1: Covering Chapters 1-6, hosted by Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow.
- So, first impressions time! What do you think of the book setup, first of all? Setting, magic system, Faerie in general?
I loved it, It WAS a different experience compared to other UF novels/series as we meet Toby just as she loses everything and only start getting to know her as she’s reached her lowest point (working at Safeway/hiding from everyone), not many authors put their main protagonist through so much crap so early! So it was very different!
As for the magic system and Faerie in general, until the Rosemary and Rue, my only real exposure to Faerie in pop culture were a few movies or tamed retellings of fairy tales. I had not looked much beyond Disney otherwise – so I don’t have much to compare them too! The magic system was quite original, I thought. using a lot of symbolism (My understanding being that the actual words used weren’t as important as the symbolism and intent/will behind them) as well as the link to the sense of smell after invocation. A fresh smelling take on a magic system. (If you’ll forgive the pun!) 😉
- Now let’s take Toby Daye herself. We get to see some of how she’s grown up and how she fits in, or doesn’t, in the modern world as it is post-fish. What are your initial thoughts on her?
Toby was a fish. fort more than a decade! That’s seriously going to affect her perspective on and comfort with the world around her! Before she became trapped as a fish, she was one of the more adaptable and technologically savvy Fae around (early adopter of a big chunky mobile phone as an example), but when she lost time – she was effectively left behind by the pace of development. I think it was partially to some extent – this culture and technology shock that drove her to avoid the Fae world just as much as her losing her family!
- We have yet to properly meet certain characters (Devin and Sylvester), though we’ve gotten brief intros to others (Tybalt and the Queen of the Mists)… Who stands out for you among these secondary characters, and why?
Lets face it, If Tybalt didn’t stand out to you at his first appearance, you’re probably reading a different book! The Queen of the Mists stood out as quite the … erm … “B” word that rhymes with Itch. Otherwise the two other characters that stood out to me were actually Cagney and Lacey! I know, right! 😀 They just so perfectly embody the spirit of cats everywhere and act as the perfect reminder that Tybalt really IS a cat too, with the same characteristics of disdain and imperiousness central to all cats!
- Toby has a murder mystery to solve. Any initial thoughts on the whodunit?
My initial thoughts, based on nothing I could pin down specifically (on my first read) was that Dare or Manuel were the murderers, based on the fact that they were the only real gritty changelings (other than Toby) who could have done the deed – mentioned by this point. (I didn’t think Devin would do anything himself, as he would have his Kids do dirty work for him, and Mitch is a family man with too much to lose!)
Fun fact, I once worked at a Safeways for four weeks in my teenage years! 😉
Week 2: Covering Chapters 7-14, hosted by Lynn at Lynn’s Books.
- We finally get to meet Devin and Sylvester. They’ve both played important roles in Toby’s life. What were your initial impressions of both of them and the worlds in which they live. What were your first thoughts about them?
Devin ~ I did NOT like him! He is the scumbag of this story, If he were a character in Star Wars – he’d be resident in a hive of scumbaggery and villainy on Tatooine! Yes, he was an important part in making Toby who she is now… but man what a creep! I don’t trust the guy!
Sylvester ~ When we first meet Sylvester, I had expected to find a Kingly character holding court over many staff and loyal subjects. I didn’t expect a giant enthusiastic excitable teenage-like quality to the guy! I like the guy. He seems to be everything that Devin isn’t!
- I’m totally intrigued by the Hope Chest – do you have any ideas about what exactly it is and what might be the significance of it being found?
The Hope chest has MYSTERIOUS MYSTERY burned metaphorically all over. My thinking is that they will eventually play a part in the mystery of “Where On Earth Is Carmen Sandiego Oberon!”
- Tybalt – I was curious as to Toby’s reasoning to trust him with the Hope Chest – what do you think?
I think there’s a lot more between Toby and Tybalt than either are willing to think or admit to. 😀
- We experience the reaction of other members of the fae to the murder of Evening and Toby telling them about the Queen’s reactions – did their reactions give you any clues at all??
Not really, but I’ve never been very good with subtle! 😉 But the Queen, she’s definitely not to be trusted. Is she involved? Maybe, but either way she’s definitely hiding a lot of secrets!
- What were your thoughts on Raysel and Luna?
Raysel ~ There’s definitely something wrong with her, she’s definitely been affected badly by whatever happened to her when she was kidnapped. As for how permanent/fixable her issues are – that remains to be seen. She’s in serious danger of slipping into Annakin Skywalker/Kylo Ren levels of crazy though!
Luna ~ She reminded me so much of a certain type of Pokémon, she came across as rather sad and emotionally scarred. Again, probably because of whatever happened to her and Raysel during the kidnapping/confinement.
- That ending, did we just end up back in the first post? – what is going on? Speculation?? Lets just talk about it please.
Pain and blood! Toby gets all of the fun experiences. If this was a novella, this would have been the perfect place for it to end before continuing in another novella/book. The symmetry of Toby lying there by the Koi pond again at the very end! The action leading up to that final moment was pretty intense.
As for the who and why? Who is still murky. By this point I was definitely leaning towards Devin as a suspect. (I REALLY DON’T LIKE HIM!)… as for why? Toby is getting too close to some truth or maybe someone is hoping she has the Hope Chest on her and they want it?
Week 3: Covering Chapters 15-20, hosted by Anya at On Starships and Dragonwings.
- We finally get to meet Lily in person! What do you think? Does she live up to the buildup in the first part of the book? We also meet Julie for the first time. Does it surprise you that Toby seems to have more friends than she lets on?
Lily is a quiet, contemplative maternal figure. I very much see her as a mothering influence on Toby. As for Julie… Yes. Toby has a lot of friends that she’s been ignoring since her fish incident. But for many of them, it’s been a decade or more since Toby has interacted with them. But I am surprised that so many came out of the woodwork so quickly! But back to Julie… I can’t say too much as my feelings and thoughts have been coloured too much. No Spoilers! 😉
- Tybalt to the rescue! Do you buy his excuse for why he chose to save Toby’s life? Ulterior motives much?
I don’t think Tybalt has ulterior motives so much as he is realising his own complex feelings and is reacting to them. I totally ship Tybalt with Toby!
- Toby gets together with Devin in this section. Their relationship is a bit fraught, what do you think? Is it good she is relying on Devin or do you think it is unhealthy?
If this was a movie, I would be shouting at the screen! NO TOBY! Don’t do it! No. No. No. No no no no no NO!
- That freaking doppelganger! Did you suspect Gillian was fake? Do you think Toby should try to get to know Gillian now that she is older?
Yes, there was no way I was buying the fake-Gillian as real. She just seemed too perfect in her responses to Toby and turning up completely out of the blue was to good to be true! As for should Toby try to get closer to Gillian in RL. I think that ship may have sailed. There might be an opportunity for reconciliation later on, but it will have to be on Gillians terms… Toby brings too much trouble in her wake at the moment! 😉
- Finally, we only have a few chapters left, any idea how everything is going to shake out? Ideas on who is behind it all yet?
The Queen, Devin, Simon? Forces Unknown? Either way there’s going to be even more blood! That’s the only thing guaranteed!
Week 4: Covering Chapters 21-End, hosted by Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow.
- On the way to finding Evening’s killer at last, we get to meet the Luidaeg in person. What are your impressions of her, and what do you think of the sneaky ‘deal’ Toby managed to make with her?
Scary, fearsome, quick to anger and a lover of Ice Cream – what’s not to love! My thoughts regarding the Luidaeg are heavily influenced by later novels and short stories, so I won’t be going into to many details here. But quite simply, after Toby. She is my favourite character in the series! (Yes, even over Tybalt!)
- Next stop is the Court of Cats, where we see Tybalt in his role as a king, followed by another visit to Lily to finally learn the truth. We get some more evidence of the regard they both have for Toby; in light of previous discussions about Toby’s friendships, what do you make of this new evidence?
Tybalt and Toby sitting in a tree….
Sorry. Did I mention I ship Toby and Tybalt? That is all!
- Now for the final reveal! Devin ‘fesses up, and Dare is killed defending Toby… Was any of this finale what you’d expected? What do you make of Devin’s reasons for killing Evening?
I told you I didn’t like Devin! As for his reasons for killing Evening… I think he didn’t really need a reason so much as an excuse, he had skeevy creep written all over him!
- The hope chest is given over to the Queen at the end of the story. In light of what we’ve seen of her and the potential power that the hope chest has (regardless of what it does), do you think this was the right thing for Toby to do?
Whilst I KNOW Toby had to give it to the Queen because of honour and stuff, I think it would have been better kept in the hands of Tybalt or even the Luidaeg. The Luidaeg is a bit of a Bogeyman/Monster under the bed figure to most Fae. Very few people would try and mess with her! But again, definitely not the Queen. – Something smells rotten in the Royal Throne Room of the Queen… and I don’t think it’s a surprise cat poo left by the Cait Sidhe to spite the Queens court. (Well, that would be funny)
That’s all for Rosemary and Rue. If you read along, or have just read it yourself – what did you think? There’s lots more to follow in the later books and stories. The October Daye series is one of the better Urban Fantasy series out there, and is one of my personal favourites, I heartily recommend them all!