Fairy tales can come true, it can happen to you
If you’re young at heart.
For it’s hard, you will find, to be narrow of mind
If you’re young at heart.
You can go to extremes with impossible schemes.
You can laugh when your dreams fall apart at the seams.
And life gets more exciting with each passing day.
And love is either in your heart, or on it’s way.
Seanan McGuire’s Indexing is a wry, action-packed fantasy in a world where fairy tales actually can come true, and it’s the last thing you would want to happen to you. When Sleeping Beauty carries an airborne sleeping virus more dangerous that weaponized biological warfare, the ATI Management Bureau is on the case to defend happily ever after. Its motto is “in aeternum felicitas vindactio” means precisely that.
The ATI uses the Aarne-Thompson Index to map the memetic incursions around the world, all coded to the Index. Each chapter begins with the Index number of the particular fairy tale manifestation. It’s all very amusing.
Special Agent Henrietta Marchen, ATI Management Bureau, leads a small squad of specialists, including Sloane Winters whose fairy tale persona is the Wicked Stepsister. Henrietta is a Snow White. Jeff is a shoe elf and Andy is blessedly untouched by the narrative. The narrative is the seemingly malignant force of fairy tales in the world. They later recruit a Pied Piper named Demi.
It seems there are more and more narrative incursions and sometimes they veer off their normal course in unexpected ways and the team begins to believe someone is manipulating the narrative. They must find that force and neutralize it before the narrative destroys them or even all of reality. So that is the adventure that frames this novel and it is entertaining to see how fairy tales can be viewed as singularly unfortunate tropes that keep repeating over and over again.
I really loved Indexing for the first third or so of the book, but it became less entertaining as the various memetic incursions took on a pattern of temporary threat neutralized by Sloane, usually, who frankly was the most interesting character in the book. I think if the story has centered on her instead of Henry, I would have enjoyed it more. I struggled to focus and finish because the malignant force, the villain, made no sense. What set the villain off? What was the motivation? There was so much promise, but it felt as though the resolution at the end was not a complete resolution. There were unanswered questions and generally a feeling of “Huh? That was it?” I wanted something as brilliant as the premise and did not get it.
I borrowed this book from the library.