Beware the Kelpie: Rosemary and Rue, by Seanen McGuire
The creature will be almost irresistible: it will have the shape of a beautiful horse, with eyes as dark and deep as the moonlit water it stands beside, and its back will ripple and dip as invitingly as a seal’s. If it sees you, it may toss its head – flourishing a mane that looks suspiciously like tangled, dripping seaweed – and ask you to ride.
✅ Best Bool Rosemary and Rue Seanen McGuire
Wry, witty, funny and powerful – For the first book in a series, this one is very good. There’s a fair amount of exposition that at times slows the plot at bit, but it’s pretty well handled and presented in several ways instead of falling into the expository traps of massive info dumps or tedious question and answer sessions by the characters. Toby (the POV character) is also familiar with the fantastical aspects of the world and so it avoids the cliche of the outsider “introduced into a realm beyond their imagination”.
Don’t. Don’t ride. Don’t even touch it. The creature isn’t a horse at all: it’s a kelpie. And if you ride the kelpie, if you so much as brush its silvery skin, you will stick to it, and it will carry you into its river, lake, or sea, and you will never be heard from again.
For more than a thousand years, these mythical monsters have been confined to the waterways of Scotland. But no longer. Author Seanen McGuire has brought kelpies to San Francisco in her recent book, Rosemary and Rue. In this modern-day fantasy thriller, a half-human, half-Faerie private detective named October Daye – Toby to her friends – must investigate the overlapping worlds of Faerie and North Bay to catch a magical killer before the killer catches her. Dodging kelpies is only the beginning: Toby will have to out-maneuver the mad Faerie Queen, navigate a love triangle more sharply pointed than her changeling ears, and survive the general mayhem of a town populated by taxi-driving trolls, fast-talking cats, and at least one rose bush that has plans of its own.
Half riotously funny, half darkly suspenseful, Rosemary and Rue will beguile and enchant older teen and adult fans of Celtic myth and urban mysteries. With at least six more books in print and to come in the October Daye series, hopefully, more kelpies will follow for horse-lovers, too!
Want to learn more about kelpies? Learning and Teaching Scotland offers a brilliant overview of kelpies and the most famous would-be kelpie, the Loch Ness Monster, and the writings of Robert Burns, one of Scotland’s great poets, are haunted by truly devilish sea-horses. However, if you’re looking for a sweeter, friendly take on kelpies for kids and tweens, check out Dick King-Smith’s kids’ novel, The Water Horse, and Sony Pictures’ movie adaptation of the book, Water Horse: Legend of the Deep.