I am currently reading my way through a long list of science fiction and fantasy titles. (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists if you are interested in the list).
The world of Faerie never disappeared: it merely went into hiding, continuing to exist parallel to our own. Secrecy is the key to Faerie's survival—but no secret can be kept forever, and when the fae and mortal worlds collide, changelings are born. Half-human, half-fae, outsiders from birth, these second-class children of Faerie spend their lives fighting for the respect of their immortal relations. Or, in the case of October "Toby" Daye, rejecting it completely. After getting burned by both sides of her heritage, Toby has denied the fae world, retreating into a "normal" life. Unfortunately for her, Faerie has other ideas.
The murder of Countess Evening Winterrose, one of the secret regents of the San Francisco Bay Area, pulls Toby back into the fae world. Unable to resist Evening's dying curse, which binds her to investigate, Toby is forced to resume her old position as knight errant to the Duke of Shadowed Hills and begin renewing old alliances that may prove her only hope of solving the mystery...before the curse catches up with her.
”There’s rosemary and rue. These keep seeming and savor all the winter long. Grace and remembrance be to you.” –William Shakespeare, Winter’s Tale, Act 4, Scene 4.
Add to that quotation Ophelia in Shakespeare’s Hamlet who tells us that rosemary, that’s for remembrance. And the name of the plant rue has become synonymous with regret and repentance. There’s a lot of remembering and regretting in this book.
October (Toby) Day is spending a lot of time remembering her family, her old job, the circumstances which separated her from both of those, her childhood, you name it. If she was to choose a Facebook status, she would have to select “it’s complicated.” You see, she’s a changeling—half human, half fae—not truly accepted by either community. And she spent 14 years as a fish (a koi in an ornamental pond), cursed when she ran afoul of a couple of powerful fae when she was following them in her former role as a private investigator. Nobody knew where she was (until the spell finally wore off) and her mortal husband & daughter now want nothing to do with her. Since those relationships have been ruined, October isn’t really in the mood to re-contact the fae either.
But sometimes you don’t get a choice in these matters. Despite her lowly Safeway job, as she tries to catch up with 14 years of societal progress, one of her powerful full-blooded faerie frenemies binds her once again—this woman (who knows that she will be killed) tasks October to avenge her murder using her investigative skills.
There is copious use of one trope that really bugs me—that of the person who is absolutely sure that no one wants to hear from them or spend time with them because of something they have done. This is October completely, despite the fact that she was “done to” rather than “doing.” And truly, when in life do you actually find this? Maybe among middle school children, but certainly not among adults! Toby’s rejection of all overtures from any of her former friends is incomprehensible to me, no matter how prejudiced they might be, no matter how much she may envy their status or their families. It’s even more frustrating when it becomes obvious as the story progresses that many of them are delighted to have her back in their lives and are most forgiving considering what a cold shoulder she has given them. As a side note, I also can’t imagine that her husband and daughter would actually reject her—most families welcome long-lost family members with open arms. But that will surely be an issue for another book.
In spite of this, I found Rosemary and Rue to be a fun read, keeping me guessing about who did what and why. I hope now that October has re-connected with friends and family, that I will feel less annoyed with her behaviour in book 2 and be able to completely enjoy the story. And I feel that a mythology refresher would be helpful before the second installment—who knew that the fairy folk came in so many versions?