REPRESENTATION: Gay Black Side Character, Trans Side Character
GENRES/ SUBJECTS: YA, Novella, Urban Fantasy, Fairy Tale Retellings
For most people, the story of their lives is just that: the accumulation of time, encounters, and actions into a cohesive whole. But for an unfortunate few, that day-to-day existence is affected—perhaps infected is a better word—by memetic incursion: where fairy tale narratives become reality, often with disastrous results.
That’s where the ATI Management Bureau steps in, an organization tasked with protecting the world from fairy tales, even while most of their agents are struggling to keep their own fantastic archetypes from taking over their lives. When you’re dealing with storybook narratives in the real world, it doesn’t matter if you’re Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, or the Wicked Queen: no one gets a happily ever after.
Urban fantasies and retellings are two of my very favourite genres, so Indexing really appealed to me. Think Law and Order meets Once Upon a Time. The book started life as kindle instalments so the story has a tv-esque, episodic feel to it, which will definitely work for some and not for others.
I really liked McGuire’s take on the characters, which felt pretty unusual. McGuire’s not afraid to take the fairy tales literally, or to really push it to the extreme conclusion. For example, the main character, Henry, is a ‘Snow White’ but as she points out, that doesn’t mean she’s some glamorous princess:
“We’re too pale, and our lips are too red, and we look like something out of a horror movie that didn’t have the decency to stay on the screen.”
My favourite supporting character, Sloane, is an ‘Evil Stepsister’ and so, although she’s working with the good guys, she’s always fighting back cruel comments and violent tendencies. That being said, the characters sometimes felt pretty 2D and not as well-rounded out as the other books I’ve read by the author.
I enjoyed Indexing, it’s maybe not particularly jaw-dropping but it is good fun. The episodic structure makes it perfect for reading in short bursts and you get to see some really creative urban fantasy takes on fairy tales including Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, The Pied Piper, The Little Mermaid, Goldilocks and Mother Hubbard.