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Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire

Rosemary and Rue - Seanan McGuire

I read this book on the strength of the opening pages, which are quite strong. While I’m not a huge urban fantasy reader, I do enjoy them occasionally; compared to the genre at large, this one is lighter on the romance, heavier on the exposition and average on the snark. Unfortunately, it also has a fairly senseless plot and one of the stupidest protagonists I’ve encountered. Some vague spoilers below.

October “Toby” Daye is a half-fey, half-human former private investigator, busy not recovering from a nasty spell that turned her life upside-down, when a friend is murdered and she’s dragged into the investigation. The one thing I can say for this mystery is that it didn’t creep me out, as mysteries sometimes do. But after the opening it quickly does downhill. Toby visits the crime scene, but from then on doesn’t actually investigate; instead she runs about visiting everyone she knows, gets into a lot of trouble, mostly due to her own stupidity, and regularly requires rescue from her friends. Then she jumps back up half-healed, insists on rushing alone and half-cocked into some other dangerous situation, and has to be rescued again. Rinse and repeat. She only ever solves the mystery because the villain, who clearly has not read the Evil Overlord List, decides to monologue at her about their actions and motives.

And man, is Toby too stupid to live! She drags the plot out an extra 100 pages by forgetting that she can read the memories of the dead, and therefore not bothering to enquire of a mysterious assassin killed in an attempt on her life (by a rival who swoops in to save her, naturally) who paid for the job. She insists on storming alone into the villain’s lair after telegraphing her intentions, despite knowing the villain will have backup and her having many allies eager to help (one of whom gets killed trying to save her life as a result, naturally). And after an incident in which a doppelganger nearly kills her and our supposedly highly capable investigator has to be saved by a couple of kids, she insists on barging alone into another dangerous place, where an old friend pops up to help her . . . so she decides to make him prove his identity by handing him her only weapon and telling him to cut himself to prove he can bleed. And what do you think he’d do with that knife if he was in fact an enemy, genius?

All that said, Toby isn’t the only idiot in the book. There’s also the villain, who passes up plenty of opportunities to try to wheedle or force information about the McGuffin out of her, while meanwhile hiring assassins to try to torture her for it. For that reason, the final reveal doesn’t feel quite credible. It’s also hard to say much for the allies who show such respect for Toby’s nonexistent skills.

So while the book is readable, I found it more annoying than fun; due to excessive exposition about the world and its many species of fey, the plot doesn’t move as quickly as it might. Nor does it ever really address the issues raised in that great opener, particularly with Toby’s partner and child, who never appear again. Not one I recommend, nor do I expect to read more from this author.