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Many and several moons ago, [livejournal.com profile] runnerwolf asked me if I'd be interested in reading a new book. Most of you that know me are already aware that this is something similar to asking a cat if she would like more catnip. After receiving my enthused yes, she gave me more details. The author needed people who were not already familiar with her work to do a quick, but thorough, read-through and provide feedback, all inside of a week.

This lay well within my skill-set, and was my first introduction to Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire. I caught one small continuity detail, but beyond that I was fairly limited in feedback beyond: Book good. And it was.

Well, I'm not sure how many revisions there have been between that version and the version I received in ARC form, but let me tell you, this book has gone from "Book good" to "Book AMAZING!"

For those reading this who like comparisons to other series. Quality-wise, I believe that Rosemary and Rue compares favorably with both the first book of the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher, and with the first book of the Anita Blake series by Laurell K. Hamilton.

The main character, October 'Toby' Daye, is a changeling. This leaves her caught between the realms of Faerie and the mortal world, with obstacles and craziness from both being heaped on her head throughout Rosemary and Rue. Toby's journey through this book is precipitated by the murder of an old friend, and a very pressing obligation to solve that murder.

It's difficult writing a review, because I want to talk on and on about all the twists and turns, all the fascinating secondary characters, and the delight I had in seeing so much being set up for the subsequent books. At the same time, I don't want to give any spoilers, simply because Rosemary and Rue brings wonderful discoveries of Toby's world on every page. The degree of detail going on in the background, as she is moved forward by action scene after action scene is just lovely.

Toby and her world feel real to me. I can picture her San Francisco, with Kelpies lurking on corners, and knowes hidden in the most unlikely of places. If someone had asked me before this book about doors into Faerie existing within a city, I would've scoffed. However, Seanan strikes the right balance between the gritty, mundane world of mortals and the otherworldliness of Faerie, and makes it seem natural and right where the two intersect.

Honestly, I can't say enough good things about the world-building. How the rules of Faerie make sense, and how you glimpse threads of the broader tapestry. I believe that Toby is dealing with a world of immortal beings, with complex and intertwining stories, loves and hates, jealousies and loyalties. Toby struggles, and I believe both in the struggles and that she will find a way through, with the help of her friends, and by relying on her own wits. Toby has been hurt by her past, but she is strong, and is capable of change to face her new realities. Seanan has me rooting for Toby throughout this book, gasping and cringing and wincing and cheering by turns. I think that is the biggest change, from the previous version I read to this one, that I can and do believe that Toby will hold her own in this precarious and deadly world.

So, September 1st, get thee to the nearest bookstore and buy a copy of Rosemary and Rue. If you love story, strong heroines, and a very folklore-based take on Faerie, you'll adore this book. (Plus, geez, it's going to kill me to wait that long to discuss all the shiny and twists and turns of Rosemary and Rue!)

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