Monday, December 7, 2009

Magical San Francisco

Once upon a time I read a lot of the subgenre know as "urban fantasy" -- stories of fantasy elements set in the mundane world and not necessarily "urban" at all. Gradually however, I left behind these tales of elves on motorcycles and dragon-run gambling dens. Aside from becoming too similar these books were either too mundane or not mundane enough; either the magical denizens were hopelessly prosaic, treating their mythical heritages as little more than glorifed college degrees or they moved through the contempary world like greek gods untouched and untroubled by the world around them.

So it was with no little surprise that I found myself reading Rosemary and Rue by Seana McGuire, a novel of faeries living and dying in modern San Francisco. Reading the prologue I was captivated with the narrator, a minor faerie struggling to maintain a precarious balance between a dangerous and wonderful magical world and a mundane existence that she -- and by extension I -- genuinely cared for. This heroine, eccentrically named October Daye, suffers such an outrageous and unexpected fate before chapter one that I was compelled to read on.

Published as an inexpensive paperback (a welcome bucking of publishing tradition), Rosemary and Rue is a fun, fast read with good characters, an overabundance of action, some great faerie elements, and a satisfyingly noir ending. Two sequels are due in 2010, giving Seana McGuire a flying start into the crowded urban fantasy landscape.

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