Friday, March 21, 2014

Indexing by Seanan McGuire

Imagine this fairy tale dream team: a Wicked Stepsister, Pied Piper, Shoemaker, and regular John Doe all led by Snow White on a mission to stop Once Upon a Time from reaching The End.

Fairy tales gone wrong, anyone?

That is one messed-up happily-ever-after happening, but this is a fractured fairy tale for modern times. It is Men in Black with fairy tale characters (minus the gadgets-- too underfunded). These fairy tales are definitely for adults, happy ending not necessarily included.

In this standalone fantasy, fairy tales do happen to people, and this secret government agency tries to prevent that.  The premise is that there is a narrative force that forces regular people to fit fairy tale storylines, and it pulls others in to make it happen, regardless of the damage incurred and lives stolen, and that is why the same fairy tale plot occurs in different cultures with recurring elements.  For example, a Sleeping Beauty storyline happens when a young woman collapses from a sudden illness, and everyone nearby becomes infected by her and falls asleep, and, if not stopped, it could become a pandemic plague.  The cases happen with interesting twists to the typical fairy tale as part of a deeper plot, with Snow White’s team becoming both target and key to the underlying conflict.

The intriguing premise, snarky humor, sharp dialogue and one-liners, and diverse characters make this an engaging and fun read.  The world-building, fairy tale indexing and protocols, and development of the premise stand out.  The characters are well-developed with distinct personalities and backstories of their own.  The diversity of the characters adds to the story without being a token effort.  There is such chemistry within the team, especially the love-hate vibe between Snow White and the Wicked Stepsister.

Look for Indexing in the VBPL Catalog.  For more story craziness and the agencies that oversee them, try the following: Mercedes Lackey’s 500 Kingdoms series starting with The Fairy Godmother, Jasper Fforde’s Nursery Crime series beginning with The Big Over Easy or his Thursday Next series starting with The Eyre Affair (see review), and Jim C. Hine’s Magic Ex Libris series beginning with Libriomancer (see review).

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