Posted by: Mish | August 15, 2009

Rosemary, Shorts, and Song

“I felt the curse catch hold, sinking thorny talons into my skin as the bittersweet smell of dying roses flooded my nose and mouth. I dropped my coffee cup and staggered backwards retching, clapping a hand over my mouth as I tried not to throw up. Promises bind our kind as surely as iron chains or ropes of human hair, and Evening had bound me with the old forms, the ones anyone with a trace of fae blood can use. No one uses the old bindings anymore, not unless things are so bleak that even our missing King and his Hunt couldn’t mend them. They’re too strong, and too deadly.”

In Seanan McGuire’s Rosemary and Rue, changeling Toby Daye wishes to have a “normal” life among mortals in the Bay area. With her dying breath Countess Evening Winterrose binds Toby to investigate her murder. Toby has no choice but to return to the Faerie world and heritage she rejected, resuming her position of knight errant and renewing old alliances. A lot has changed while she’s been away and Toby must keep one step ahead if she wishes to solve Evening’s murder, keep things from exploding, and remain alive.

Rosemary and RueIt’s been about a decade since I’ve read a novel set around changeling society. When I realized I was reading about the same power struggles between differently named characters I stopped. From what I’ve read, Rosemary and Rue is a unique breath of fresh air and a good one to boot. Thanks to a preview excerpt from DAW Books and a reading, I’m left hanging on the cliff of this urban fantasy-fairytale noir until I can read Rosemary and Rue, in its entirety. It comes out in stores on September first. I’ll take a not-so-wild stab that I’ll like the first and following October Daye books, when they are eventually made public.

“Beautifully clean writing… it’s humorous and heartbreaking. It’s almost as if Jim Butcher and I had written a book together.” ~Tanya Huff

So far I’ve really liked or loved McGuire’s writing, which is witty, intelligent, imaginative, and thoroughly enjoyable. Imagery swirls around the reader as they’re drawn into the story. With an eerie knack for portraying the grim, McGuire is able to create original stories, which isn’t easily or often done.

The first story I read by McGuire was the beautiful, mournful, moving, and short “Lost” in Ravens in the Library. After leaving me speechless and teary-eyed, I ranked the aside to Peter Pan with a 5/5. Told by the best friend of the sea-king’s daughter, “Knives” is the other side of the Little Mermaid tale that was popularized by Disney, who tells:

“the same sort of sugar-sweet stories, bleaching the blood from the legends until they’re cookie-cutter flawless, with happy endings for everyone.”

For the same reasons as “Lost”, “Knives” also gets a 5/5. “Anthony’s Vampire” is both cute and sad at the same time. Nine-year old Anthony meets a young vampire who offers to make him a boy forever, which “is very rarely as long as you might think”. The story continues with a few twists and surprises so I’ll stop there with a 4/5. The writing style gives the sense it’s geared more towards young adults, but it suits the story and can be enjoyed by adults of all ages. “Knives” and “Anthony’s Vampire” are available to read online at Book View Cafe.

I’ve been debating stopping here or continuing, but I might as well do the latter and save a post. Because writing stories isn’t enough, McGuire is also a singer-songwriter. It’s actually through the filk community that I first heard McGuire’s name and music and have since then been slowly becoming more familiar with both. There are currently three albums and another in the making, if I heard correctly. McGuire’s songs are catchy, hilarious, beautiful, profound, morbid, and addicting.  The concerts are a musical comedy act and a lot of fun. It’s really hard not to enjoy oneself when a roomful of people join in voice for the quick-paced chorus of “the Black Death”:

“Speaking epidemiologically, bubonic plague doesn’t make sense to me.
Yersinia pestis makes you dead, it’s true, but it isn’t as effective as the common flu.
If you want to wipe out half of Europe’s population, you need a better agent for your devastation;
You need a viral agent that that is tried and tragic — let’s take a look at fevers that are hemorrhagic.”

I think only a few folks know all 18 verses. A lot less grim, but just as contagious is “Missing Part”. It’s about time someone wrote a song for Firefly/Serenity‘s beloved mechanic who is:

“the sweetest little darlin’ that you’ll ever find,
A wee bit battered but the best of her kind,
And she’ll run forever with a good hand on her heart.
I’m a little out of place when I’m on the ground,
And that’s the reason that I’m outward bound.
Can’t you see that I’m a Firefly’s missing part?”

Alas, the song is new enough that it’s not on an album…yet. But its eventual recording and Seanan McGuire’s other projects give me something to enjoy and/or look forward to. Thus endth the post.

Rosemary and Rue graphic politely swiped from Seanan McGuire’s website.


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