Review: “Indexing,” Seanan McGuire

Pros: So, so very creative and fascinating
Cons:
Rating: 5 out of 5

Seanan McGuire’s Indexing is one of the most creative books I’ve read all year (and I read a lot of books). In this world, fairy tale incursions into the real world have the strength to warp reality. There’s a secret government bureau whose sole purpose is to put a stop to these incursions. Sometimes they even recruit people whose stories have become ‘active,’ or, preferably, those who’ve averted the scripted ending to their tale. That doesn’t mean the narrative doesn’t pull at them, however.

Indexing follows one particular team as they rush to take care of a strangely increasing number of incursions. Henry (Henrietta) runs the team; she’s a Snow White whose tale is in abeyance. Sloane, a Wicked Stepsister, has to constantly resist the urge to poison Henry with some sort of apple-related ploy (it’s rare for a villain to be an agent, but her tale is special). Jeff, their team’s archivist (researcher) is part of a tale involving shoemakers and elves, and is completely in abeyance. Andy has no connection to the narrative at all, making him fairly resistant to its pushes and pulls. Demi is a Pied Piper who gets activated as a last-ditch effort to save potentially the country itself from a particularly virulent Sleeping Beauty scenario. It’s a group of misfits who love and hate each other, and build up into a sort of oddly functional family.

This is somewhere between a novel and an anthology. Many of the chapters can stand alone as stories on their own, but a continuing narrative does develop later on. These days, when so many urban fantasies involve the same types of supernatural characters who can do all the same sorts of things and work through all the same story archetypes, it’s fantastic to find something unique. In general I can’t get over how good Ms. McGuire’s books are, and in specific this is one of the best that I’ve read so far (still going, though). I absolutely recommend it to anyone who’s a fairy tale or urban fantasy fan. The ways in which the agents interact with stories is something utterly new and wonderful.

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