Indexing

That is the name of a book, not something I’ve decided to do to the site (much to someone’s chagrin I’m sure). At any rate, I have now secured a job (yay!) so I will be reading over lunch and likely going through more books than I have recently since I can now afford to buy new ones (yay!).

So, on to Indexing. This book was written by Seanan McGuire as a serial for Amazon’s Kindle service. You pay your money and every couple of weeks, you get a new chapter until you finish the book, which I have just done. I did this as a trial and while it has a certain amount of appeal (new chapters are automatically downloaded and attached to the end of the current chapter, even if you aren’t finished with it), it can also be frustrating when the writer doing it is as good as Seanan McGuire.

And now the plot! This was really imaginative! There is an entity called the ATI Management Bureau (ATI = Aarn-Thomas Index or something to the like. It’s been a long time since I read the beginning of the book). The job of the ATI bureau is to keep the incursion of fairy tales into the ‘real world’ at a minimum. We’re not talking about something like the movie Enchanted where a Disney princess from an animated realm pops into Central Park (or wherever, I didn’t see that movie).

No, we’re talking about fairy tales latching on to a person and forcing them to live out the story of a Snow White, a Sleeping Beauty, a Little Mermaid etc. And the thing about fairy tales is that, if you read the original versions of a lot of them, they aren’t very nice. Often times when a story takes over someone’s life, it kills that person or someone close to them. Or otherwise ruins their lives.

The lead character is a lady by the name of Henrietta “Henry” Marchen. Henry is a Snow White in waiting: hair as black as coal, skin as white as snow, lips as red as roses. At any time, with the right trigger (generally taking a bite of an apple), she could go full on Snow White. She works with a man named Jeff who is a fully activated tale (in his story he is a cobbler). When he activated, he blew his entire savings on shoes. Now he’s an archivist for the ATI, the source of knowledge for his team.

Also on Henry’s team is a punk “young” woman named Sloane. Sloane is an “averted” (though I can’t remember if we ever find out how she was “averted”) Wicked Stepsister. This means she is a bitch and tends to think about doing serious bodily harm to Henry (because Snow White, a good character). Because she was averted from going full on Wicked Stepsister (generally this equals murderous), she has the ability to sense when a tale is near and is really very good at breaking whichever cursed story is trying to come into being.

Finally, there is Andy. Andy is a plain old normal human. He has no story that he resembles and is therefore generally immune from the effects some stories might have on the near activated or fully activated team members. And he’s a married gay man. Which really has nothing to do with the plot but I do love it when a writer shows they’re not afraid to ‘go there’, so to speak. 🙂

At any rate, it is their job to stop or contain fairy tale encroachment on the real world because it tends to wreak havoc. For instance, Sleeping Beauties that have a strong enough back story to them can put even regular people to sleep. And none of them will wake up until the Beauty wakes up which could either mean they’ll all sleep for 100 years or they need the kiss of a Prince.  Goldilocks’ tend to attract bears. Real ones. Guess who often ends up mauled?

Henry’s team purposefully activates a tale in order to end another one, a female Pied Piper (usually Pipers are men but this girl had all the tags and so Bob’s your uncle). They get in a lot of trouble over this but they take the girl under their collective wings. She is, understandably, not happy about what they did and later on she turns into something of a bad guy (late SPOILERS).

After that, cases start piling up at an alarming rate. So the team has to figure out what is going on before its too late.  Will Henry go full on Snow White? Will Sloane become a Wicked Stepsister? And who is behind all of this? I challenge you to read the book and find out. And since it is officially complete now, you should be able to get this in one go now but I don’t know for certain.

I really loved this book and always wished that each chunk I got was longer than it was because I’d zoom through it. However, I did have a couple of issue. One, there was very little explanation of how the ATI came about. Who first noticed these incursions? How did he/she/they convince others of it? How did they figure out how to stop things? And two, McGuire kept using code (like 709 is Snow White…I think) but there’s no glossary at the front or back of the book that we could reference. It would have been nice to have a little summation of a couple of these tales because its been a while since I’ve read any of them and some of them are obscure. For instance, growing up the version of Snow White that I heard never mentioned a sister named Rose Red. In the book Snow White and Snow White with a Rose Red are two differently indexed tales, even though they are a similar story. So it can get a little confusing if you’re doing this chunk by chunk.

However, that doesn’t change the fact that I would love, love, love to read a sequel. I’d like to see the characters explored a bit more. So very much worth the read. I love unique takes on beloved old fairy tales. Rating: A.

One thought on “Indexing

  1. Pingback: Gooseberry Bluff | Crooked Reviews

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