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Rosemary and Rue (October Daye Book 1) Kindle Edition
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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.
Outsiders from birth, these half-human, half-fae children 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, Toby must resume her former 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.
This edition features an all-new October Daye novella, Strangers in Court. Toby knew what she was doing when she threw her lot in with Devin, but when the time comes to get out, she has a little less of a clue. In order to win her freedom, she must do something to impress the local nobility—and the collapse of the Queen's knowe would seem to be exactly the opportunity she's been waiting for to prove herself! Set well before the events of Rosemary and Rue, this is a rare look at Toby's past as a changeling street rat, before she discovered her destiny as a Hero of the Realm.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
December 23, 2009: fourteen years, six months later
There’s fennel for you, and columbines;
There’s rue for you, and here’s some for me. . . .
You must wear your rue with a difference.
—William Shakespeare, Hamlet
DECEMBER HAD COME to San Francisco in fits and starts, like a visitor who wasn’t sure he wanted to stay. The skies were blue one minute and overcast the next; tourists overheated or shivered in their prepacked wardrobes, while residents traded sweaters for tank tops and back in a single afternoon. That’s normal around here. The Bay Area exists in a state of nearly constant spring, where the color of the hills—brown with a strong chance of brushfire in the summer, green and suffering from chronic mudslides in winter—is the only real difference between the seasons.
It was half past six in the morning, and the Safeway grocery store on Mission Street—never much of a happening nightspot, no matter how you wanted to slice it—was virtually deserted. The usual rush of drunks and club kiddies had passed through several hours before, and now all we had was an assortment of early risers, grave-shift workers, and homeless people looking for a warm place to spend the tail end of the night. By silent, mutual agreement, the homeless and I ignored each other. As long as I didn’t admit I could see them, I wouldn’t need to ask them to leave, and we both got to avoid the hassle.
I’m getting good at ignoring things I don’t want to see. Call it an acquired skill. It’s definitely one I’ve been working on.
“Paper or plastic, ma’am?” I asked, not bothering to conceal the weariness in my tone. Half an hour and my shift would be over, leaving me with just enough time to get home before the sun came up.
“Plastic’s fine, honey,” said the woman occupying my lane. Running a hand through oily black curls, she gestured toward my name tag. “Is that really the name your parents gave you?”
Plastering a smile across my face, I began bagging her groceries with the automated ease that comes with long practice. “It is.” She was buying six pints of gourmet ice cream and a twelve-pack of Diet Coke. I’ve seen stranger.
No; a faerie woman and her Irish accountant husband. But that was impossible to explain, and so I simply nodded. “Got it in one. That’ll be eighteen fifty-three.”
She swiped her Visa with a grunt, barely waiting for the machine to catch up before she was grabbing her groceries and heading for the door. “You have a good night, honey.”
“You, too, ma’am,” I called. Grabbing her receipt off the register, I held it up. “You forgot your—”
Too late; she was gone. I crumpled the receipt and dropped it into my trash can, leaning against the divider separating my lane from the next. She could come in later and complain to my manager about not getting a receipt, if she felt like it. With my luck, she’d feel like it, and I’d wind up with another black mark on my record. Exactly what I didn’t need. This was my third job since I won free of the pond; the first two were abject failures, largely thanks to my limited working hours, general lack of cultural awareness, and incomplete understanding of modern technology. Who would’ve believed that it could take so much computer know-how to be the night clerk at a 7-Eleven? Not me, that’s for sure, until my inability to reboot the register got me fired. Checking groceries on the graveyard shift might not have been my last chance, but it sure felt like it. At least at Safeway, there was a manager to fix things when they broke.
My fellow employees were nowhere to be seen. Probably hiding in the stockroom again, smoking Juan’s reportedly excellent marijuana and trusting me to hold the front of the store. I didn’t mind. I didn’t take a job as a check-out girl because I wanted to make friends; I did it because I wanted to be left alone.
A flock of pixies was circling the display produce near the side door, flitting in wide circles as their sentries watched for signs of danger. Dressed in scraps of cloth and bits of discarded paper and armed with tooth-picks and sandwich-spears, they looked ready to go to war over a few grapes and an overripe pear. I braced my elbows on the conveyor belt and dropped my chin into my hands, watching them. I don’t care much for pixies as a rule. They’re pretty but savage, and they’ll attack if you provoke them. Maybe that doesn’t sound like much of a threat, considering that the average pixie is about four inches tall and weighs three ounces soaking wet. They’re like mice with wings and thumbs, except for the part where mice don’t usually come armed with knives carved from broken beer bottles and homemade spears that may have been dipped in equally homemade poisons. At the same time, I had to admire the way they’d adapted. They had an entire community thriving inside this downtown grocery store, and nobody knew about it but me.
Me, and the members of San Francisco’s fae community who chose to shop here. I’d chosen this store specifically because it was so far away from the likely haunts of the people I’d known in my other life. I hadn’t considered the fact that some of them might come looking for me.
“Is this lane open?”
The voice was gruff, familiar, and more than enough to shake me out of my reverie. I jerked back, one arm going out to the side abruptly enough to knock my chin against the conveyor. Vainly trying to recover a shred of my dignity, I forbade myself to rub it as I straightened up, pasted on a smile, and turned toward the source of the voice, replying, “Yes, sir. Just put your groceries on the belt.”
The man at the end of my lane stared at me, concern evident in his expression. “Root and branch, Toby, didn’t that hurt?”
I forced my smile to stay in place. It wasn’t easy. Through my teeth, I said, “I’ll put some ice on it later. Can I have your groceries, sir?”
The man sighed, beginning to unload his cart. “Are we still doing this? I really hoped we’d be done by now. You sure you don’t want to be done? I can wait around. You can come home with me after your shift. I’m off for the night, and Stacy would love to see you. She’d even make pancakes if I called and told her you were coming...”
I didn’t answer him, busying myself instead with running his groceries across the scanner. I’d been doing the job long enough that it didn’t require any concentration to take care of such a simple task. That was a good thing, because he didn’t take my lack of answer as a reason to shut up; he kept rambling, trying to catch my interest as I focused on ringing and bagging his groceries.
Once upon a time—not my favorite phrase by a long shot—I let myself admit that the man now standing in front of my register had a name. Mitch Brown. We were kids together in the Summerlands, the last of the fae countries, the place that exists on the other side of every mirror and beyond every unpierced veil of mist. We were both changelings, mixing human blood with stranger things; Nixie and Hob in his case, Daoine Sidhe in mine. We were about the same age, and both of us were struggling to figure out who we could be, living in a world that was nothing like the one we’d started out in. It was natural that we’d latch onto one another, and to the other changelings who came our way—Kerry, half Hob, half airhead; Julie, half Cait Sidhe, all trouble; and Stacy, weak-blooded Stacy, my best friend and his eventual wife.
“That’ll be twenty-six fifteen,” I said, looking up.
Mitch sighed, brushing colorless blond hair back from his forehead. “Toby . . .”
“Cash or charge, sir?”
Mitch paused before sighing again and pulling out his wallet. “You can’t do this forever, you know,” he said, as he handed the money across to me.
“Three eighty-five is your change,” I replied, putting it down on the divider between us. “Thank you for shopping at Safeway.”
“You have the number,” he said, taking the change and shoving it into his pocket without looking. “Call when you’re ready. Please. Call us.”
Then he was gone, walking toward the exit with broad shoulders clenched tight and grocery bags dwarfed by the size of his hands. Hobs are usually tiny people, but in Mitch’s case, his human heritage won out: he could give your average Bridge Troll a complex. Stacy’s barely five foot three. I’ve never understood how the two of them worked things out, but they must have done it somehow, because they had one kid before I vanished and four more while I was gone. I didn’t want to know that. Mitch told me, just like he insisted on telling me everything else I didn’t want to know. He was trying to pull me back into my life while all I wanted to do was run away from it.
Their eldest, Cassandra, is almost the same age as Gillian.
That thought was enough to send my mood crashing even further down. I closed out my register with quick, automatic gestures, counting out the cash drawer and locking it down before anyone else could try to get through my lane. Not that there was much to worry about—the front of the store was deserted except for me and the pixies—but I didn’t care. I needed out.
Three of my fellow employees were in the break room, settled around the coffeepot like vultures around a dying steer. They barely looked up when I came storming in, yanking my apron off over my head and throwing it over the hook with my name on it. Retail: where everybody makes fun of your name.
“Something wrong, October?” That was Pete, the night manager. He always tried to sound compassionate and caring when he was talking to his underlings; mostly, he just managed to sound bored.
“Female troubles,” I said, turning around to face him. He took an automatic step backward. “I know my shift doesn’t end for fifteen minutes, but tomorrow’s my day off, and I didn’t take a break tonight. Can I—”
“Go home. I’ll clock you out.” His gruffness barely concealed his dismay. He was clearly afraid that if I stuck around, I’d start giving him details.
It’s best not to question good fortune. I kicked off my uniform shoes and shoved them into my locker before grabbing out my coat and sneakers, pulling them roughly on, and taking off for the door without giving Pete a chance to change his mind. Three long steps past my disinterested coworkers and I was free, charging out into the freezing cold of the alley behind the store. The door slammed shut behind me, and everything was reduced to a pale, watery gray lit by the distant glow of streetlights.
The fog had rolled in since my shift started, making it impossible to see more than a few feet in any direction. I shoved my hands into my pockets, shivering. When it decides to get cold in San Francisco, it doesn’t mess around. As a little added bonus, I could feel the moisture already beading on my hair and skin. My shoes and the cuffs of my pants would be soaked through long before I made it home.
“Whee,” I muttered, and turned to start for the mouth of the alley. Once I was on the street, I could begin the long, mostly uphill walk home. If I’d stayed to the end of my shift, I would’ve taken the bus, but the encounter with Mitch had left me shaken, and the walk would do me good.
The chill dropped away as I began climbing the first hill between me and my destination, exertion providing the warmth I so desperately needed. I glanced at my watch. If the almanac at the supermarket was correct, we were about thirty-three minutes to dawn. It was enough time, if I didn’t slow down, stop, trip, or do anything but walk. The dawn destroys small enchantments, and that includes everything I’m strong enough to cast—like the illusion that allows me to pass for human. Worse, it’s incapacitating, at least temporarily. If I was in the open when the sun came up, I could find myself with a starring role in a tabloid before noon. Still, there was time, as long as nothing got in the way.
The street curved as it moved up the hill, taking me through the slowly paling morning. I kept my hands in my pockets and kept walking, trying to focus on getting home, trying not to think about Mitch going home to his family, or about much of anything else. All thinking did was make me remember what I’d already lost.
Everything was quiet, save for the distant rumble of traffic on the freeway. Shivering, I walked a little faster, heading down a side street into a neighborhood that smelled like rotten fruit and sweet decay. A black horse stood by the curb in the deepest part of the shadow, the smell of debris masking its characteristic blood-and-seaweed scent. Its eyes were red, and the look it gave me was inviting, promising wild adventures and fantastic delights if I’d just get onto its back. I waved it off with one hand, walking on. Only an idiot would trust a Kelpie this close to the water. Getting on its back with the scent of the sea in the air would be a fast, painful means of committing suicide, and I’m not a fan of pain.
The Kelpie took a few steps forward, eyes glowing. Hard as I’d been trying to deny the existence of Faerie, ignoring the threat wouldn’t make it go away. I sighed and stopped, folding my arms. “Are you sure you want to do this?”
It continued to advance. --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
- ASIN : B002N83HAW
- Publisher : DAW (August 29, 2009)
- Publication date : August 29, 2009
- Language : English
- File size : 4799 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 346 pages
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #37,461 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Top reviews from the United States
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Do not waste your time on this, stick to proven authors like Ilona Andrews, K. F. Breenie, Shannon Mayer, Rachel Aaron, T. A. White, Lindsay Buroker. These ladies always deliver and never disappoint.
One thing I notice upon re-reading after several books in is that there are a lot of little things that happen which didn't seem terribly important at the time that are actually very relevant later on. While Toby is familiar with both the mundane and fantastical elements of her world, she's pretty low on the totem-pole at this point in the narrative, so there's much she doesn't understand. When I'm re-reading I'm shouting at the book, "No! Don't you realize that...oh yeah, you don't know that yet!" LOL It shows that Ms. McGuire has actually had a fair amount of the overall trajectory of the series mapped out from the get-go.
Another major set of elements in this book and the entire series that are handled well are the relationships. On the negative side, you have everything from relatively decent people acting according to bad information to survivors of trauma and abuse who are dealing with things poorly to outright narcissistic psychopaths...and it's not always clear who's who. On the positive side there are stable and unstable romantic and platonic relationships that are built on friendship and trust.
On its own, Rosemary and Rue is an OK, run-of-the-mill urban fantasy book.
The series gains momentum after a couple more books and the more of them I read, the more stories I want.
Seanan McGuire is one of my favorite authors. I make no secret of that. She's prolific, she's friendly, and her books are kickass. I love the October Daye series, but I've only read it once all the way through. I've been meaning to get around to a reread for a while, so what more perfect way to do that than with the 10th Anniversary edition of book one? Right?!
The main story is the same as the original publication. It's not the best in the series, but it does set up one of the most interesting Urban Fantasy worlds out there, and lays the groundwork for some really cool storylines and some great characters. Definitely worth a read - this series really comes into its own in book three, one of my favorite books, not only in the series but in general.
The best part was an added novella, only available currently in this 10th Anniversary edition. Strangers in Court was a Pre-Rosemary and Rue TOBY story! We've seen the history of this world in many of Seanan's short stories, but we finally get to see a glimpse of Toby before the events that led to Rosemary and Rue COMPLETELY UPROOTED her world. Pre-fish, y'all.
Highly recommended... HIGHLY.
Top reviews from other countries
Toby is a changeling and so never quite fits into the human or fae world but she tries her best, but her best can have distinctly unforeseen complications. And it's only going to get more complicated. When you are dragged into the murder investigation of a ... best enemy... with a blood curse, particularly when you've been ignoring all things fae for six months. But choices are limited, time is not on your side and favours have to be traded. For this was no human murder. This stinks of fae and it cannot be ignored.
What can I say? I loved this. In some ways it is light hearted and wry, in others it has the power to make you flinch. This is dark and yet the narrative voice carries you through. The sharp quips and self depreciating humour shine through even the darkest of moments. And there are some really dark moments. And within this there is something really special.
I really connected with the characters, to the point where even 'minor' characters seemed to grow into real beings. There's a wide range of characters here, and the diversity between fae and changeling is noticable, yet never shoved down your fault. And Toby is brutally human in how she makes mistakes in both worlds, I'd follow the series just for her.
It's wry and witty, funny and powerful all in one bundle. If I had to compare to anything, I would say a strange mingling of the Jim Dresden series and Jodi Taylor's works. Either way, it is absolutely fantastic.
The Winterrose is dead, murdered by person or persons unknown. With her dying breath she binds October ‘Toby’ Daye to find her killers or face death herself; a challenge not for the faint of heart and one which promises to shake this world, and the world of the fae, to the core.
As a former private investigator, Toby is no stranger to such a request – albeit with less deadly consequences should she fail – but with unknown enemies stalking her every move, a death curse cloying to take hold and a self-imposed exile from those who would aid her, this challenge is going to be anything but easy.
Seanan McGuire has crafted a richly detailed urban setting, one which takes what we know – or don’t know – of San Francisco and intertwines it with the strange, enchanting but ultimately dangerous world of the fae. McGuire effortlessly conveys the charm and grit of the city location whilst simultaneously weaving a thread of magic through its rough streets, narrow alleys and glistening bay to create a vivid picture of a vibrant, gritty and supernaturally dangerous city.
And not to be outdone by reality, the world of the fae is similarly conveyed with rich but short passages of description which seamlessly blend with the narrative – a narrative which maintains a consistent pace throughout and relentlessly drives the story forwards. The hierarchy of the fae, and their courts, politics and lifestyle, are described with enthusiasm, adding another intriguing dimension to a narrative, and emphasising the clash between fae and humanity.
With purebloods and changelings infiltrating the streets of San Francisco, and a protagonist who has obvious deficiencies when compared to the pureblooded half of the fae population, Rosemary and Rue is populated with a vast array of strange and interesting characters whose motivations range from the good, the bad and the completely psychotic. Their strange storylines entwine with Toby’s to create a rich and vivid depiction of a world beyond worlds, and add depth and interest to the fast-paced storyline.
But this is a novel about one (incredibly messed up but ridiculously determined) woman. Toby is a fascinating and complex character; a character who is incredibly hard on herself but remains incredibly likeable throughout – despite her tendency to throw obstacles into her own path. With the King of the Cats, a deranged violet-eyed ex, and a whole host of weird and wonderful fae lurking around the corner, life may be complicated for Toby but it’s certainly never boring.
While the style of the opening prologue didn’t instantly hook me, by the end of the first section I was completely absorbed. The narrative flows easily in an uninhibited torrent of magic, mayhem and excitement. Seanan McGuire’s writing is snappy, dynamic and thoroughly amusing throughout, and with nursery rhyme magic, close encounters of the watery kind, and numerous rendezvous with walking rosebushes, Rosemary and Rue promises great things for this highly entertaining series.
Rosemary and Rue is an wonderful introduction to the October Daye series, a series which provides a light-hearted, humorous and highly enjoyable foray into urban fantasy, and one which will be filling my (virtual) bookshelves for years to come. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a good urban fantasy with a touch of the fae – I’ve certainly not looked back.
Not my favourite book on the series, but that’s more because I love love LOVE the character growth she undergoes and the allies she gathers as the series goes on, not because there’s anything at all wrong with this book.
Don’t buy this book if you don’t have the money to buy the entire series, because you’re going to want to immediately go and read the rest. I’ve read all of them probably 6 times now, at least once a year, and they never get old.
On a more serious note, if you can’t handle mentions of blood, this series probably isn’t for you-Toby’s race are blood-workers, and even setting that aside she shows a blank disregard for her own safety, and generally can’t be left alone for 5 minutes without being covered in her own blood.
Toby Daye, apart from her weird name, is not your typical urban fantasy heroine. That is, practically everything that comes out of her mouth is not a smartass comment. Nor does she spend half the book lusting over >1 hot male body. To be fair, she also spends a lot of the first part of the book whining and being self-pitying, which is also not typical, but less positive. However, since the woman spent 14 years as a koi, resulting in her losing her fiance and daughter (as they now - unsurprisingly - won't speak to her), this is perhaps understandable. To be honest, I think it makes her more realistic: if you're honest, how do you think you would deal with that kind of situation? With a witty quip and a readiness to move on an start kicking ass immediately? Probably not. In the end, perhaps I didn't quite like Toby, but I was interested enough in her to want to carry on reading.
There are many supporting characters, and (hooray) we have at least one fae who doesn't take arbitrary, illogical politicking to the level of an art form. There is the concept that liege loyalty goes both ways: the master has responsibilities to the servant, as well as the other way around. Some characters are more developed than others, but there are definite indications that many of them will be back and will play significant roles in further books.
The plot... to be honest, I figured out Whodunnit quite early on. As plots go, it wasn't very complex, and Toby didn't do much detecting really. A lot of running around and getting injured, yes; detecting, no. However, it was enjoyable. And it was clear that there was Stuff Going On What We Aren't Getting Told - although the immediate problem was solved, it's pretty obvious that it was only a single battle, not the whole war. There were enough loose ends to make it obvious that there will be a longer story arc over several books.
What really made this book a four-star read for me was the writing. It's hard to pin down, but it felt solid. Part of the slowness getting started, I think, was McGuire giving Toby and her world the kind of depth and detail that is the foundation for a really good series.