The series tells the story of a small town called Madrone, Northern California, in an Alternate Universe where magical beings, or magikin, coexist peacefully with humans. Most of the magikin are harmless and live by rules and laws that keep their human neighbors safe. The more sinister variety, the Unseelie, were banished into the Realm of Faerie by their rivals, the Seelie, and supposedly pose no threat to humans.
Rosamunde, the protagonist of the first book, is a teenage girl who made a deal with a fae on her thirteenth birthday to obtain magical powers. Her mother, who made the same deal as a young woman, is now training Rosa to become a witch, but insists that her daughter is not prepared to learn more advanced magic. Little by little, Rosa begins to find out more and more disturbing details about how far her mother is willing to go to keep her safe.
With the help of her friends—a mischievous Kitsune, the shy human daughter of two vampires, two noble faerikin, and a fae man with many names—Rosa investigates the extent of her mother's influence on over her entire family. Along the way, she has to find the strength to stand up to her mother and make her own decisions.
The Fae of Calaveras County series provides examples of:
- Alternate Universe: In this one, all sorts of mythological creatures exist alongside humans, and many of them flocked to Calaveras County during the Gold Rush.
- Arranged Marriage: Glen is the great-grandson of the current count of Calaveras County, and he and Ashleigh have been betrothed since birth. They're pretty cool with it; although not romantically involved, they're good friends.
- The Fair Folk: When the Seelie Court signed treaties with the human government, they agreed to banish the Unseelie fae into the Realm of Faerie, on the other side of the Veil.
- I Have Many Names: The fae with whom Rosa made the deal to obtain her magical powers goes by a different name every time she meets him, including but not limited to Hercules, Dandelion, Lavender, Mantis, and Bob.
- Kill It with Fire: How Rosa gets rid of the spell that's binding her and her family.
- MayflyDecember Romance: Dandelion seems to want to start one with Rosa.Dandelion: (pouts) I can appear any age that I choose. I thought that you would like me tonight—just about eighteen, do you see? I read in one of your magazines that teen girls prefer boys who are a few years older than them.Rosa: It's not how you look. I don't know how old you actually are, but I'm sure that it's at least a few millenia out of my league.
- Mundane Utility: Kai uses his quick fox reflexes to play video games.
- My Beloved Smother: Rosa's mom. An extreme case in that she actually casts spells on her daughters and husband in order to keep them compliant.
- You Are Not Ready: Rosa's mom thinks this about Rosa casting more advanced magic spells.Rosmerta: I only teach you as much as you're ready for.