First in the October Daye urban fantasy series revolving around a half-fae, half-human private detective in San Francisco.
While on a case, Toby gets made and turned into a fish by Simon and Oleander. Fourteen years later, the spell wears off and Toby emerges into a world where her daughter and husband want nothing to do with her. Well, damn it, since the fae world is what screwed up her personal life, Toby decides to shun all of ’em until the Countess Evening Winterrose puts a binding spell on Toby to find out who is trying to get the Hope Chest. And who murdered her.
Now. Damn, now Toby must face the fae. She must return Home to Devin and beg his aid. She must face Sylvester and endure his disgust for her failure, his knight’s failure, in helping him to rescue his wife and daughter. For it’s the only way she can get the help she needs to solve Evening’s murder.
October “Toby” Daye is a changeling with small magics that she uses in her work as a private detective. Cagney and Lacey are her current Siamese cats who are not too happy with the new addition to the family while Cliff and Gillian Daye are her formerly-grieving and now simply estranged human husband and daughter.
Evening Winterrose, the Countess of Goldengreen, a.k.a., Evelyn Winters in the human world, is Toby’s worst friend and best enemy besides being a pureblood fae. The entrance to her knowe is at the San Francisco Art Museum. It’s Evening whom Toby called for help from the police station when the spell Toby was under broke.
Sylvester Torquill, Duke of Shadowed Hills, is both Toby’s liege and her friend. The entrance to his knowe is in Mt. Diablo State Park. His wife is Duchess Luna, a “sweet, egalitarian woman” with a talent for roses. His daughter, Rayseline “Raysel” Acantha Torquill, is the “heir presumptive to one of the largest Duchies in the Kingdom of the Mists”. A sweet tomboy of a girl rather than the spoiled princess she could have been, at least, until she was taken. Connor O’Dell is Raysel’s husband. An arranged marriage to cement the alliance between his people, the Selkies, and the fae. Unfortunately for Raysel, Connor still seems to be in love with Toby, the changeling he rejected because her blood wasn’t pure enough. Quentin is a page at Sylvester’s court, a blind fosterling, whom Toby is befriending in hopes of a small wave of change in how the changelings are perceived and treated.
Simon Torquill is Sylvester’s twin brother while Oleander de Merelands is an assassin who enjoys socializing almost as much as she enjoys hurting people, a result of her half Tuatha de Dannan, half Peri heritage.
Queen of the Mists reigns over another of the fairy hills with its entrance along the rocky coast in San Francisco. There is a strong suspicion that she’s, well, mad.
Devin is a changeling like Toby. The refuge to whom she fled when she ran away from Faerie. A refuge, Home, with its own set of teeth waiting to snap at the unwary. For Devin is a user even as he seems to rescue.
Tybalt, a Cait Sidhe, is King of the Cats and lives to torment Toby. Toby thinks he hates her; I suspect he’s in love. Then there’s Luidaeg who heals and talks to the dead. A daughter of Maeve, she owes Toby one more answer. Lily the Undine‘s kingdom is the Tea Gardens; a refuge for Toby when she’s hurt. A fae blocked off from her pond for as long as Toby’s spell was in effect.
When this series was recommended to me, it came with the proviso that this first story was kinda slow and to just persevere. That it set up the background for the entire series. Well. All I can say is if this is slow….oh, mama, watch out!
McGuire has done a lovely job of both setting up a deep backstory which sets its hooks into you and causing a deep empathy with Toby. The sort of story that makes you feel as though you’ve known Toby and her world forever. McGuire also acquaints us with a worldful of characters that I just know will be appearing in future episodes as we follow Toby through her investigation into the why and how of Evening’s torturous murder. McGuire also seems to know her way around San Francisco.
I am so looking forward to the next in the series, A Local Habitation.
The cover looks like a rough pastel with Toby in a black jacket hunched in front off a wrought fence on a very San Francisco night with the moon murky behind her. The title, Rosemary and Rue, are bouquets left on the grave of someone Toby feels she let down.