The struggle against not-so-charming storybook narratives isn’t the only complicating factor in Henrietta “Henry” Marchen’s life. As part of the ATI Management Bureau team protecting the world from fairy tales gone awry, she’s juggling her unwanted new status as a Snow White, dealing with a potentially dangerous Pied Piper, and wrangling a most troublesome wicked stepsister—along with a budding relationship with Jeff, her teammate.
But when a twisted, vicious Cinderella breaks out of prison and wreaks havoc, things go from disenchanted to deadly. And once Henry realizes someone is trying to use her to destroy the world, her story becomes far from over—and this one might not have a happily ever after.
Pros – We learn about Sloane’s history, Henry’s Team, Ciara
Cons – less episodic, Adrianna (you’ll see), not long enough
Before you begin this review please note there are spoilers for the first book (which I reviewed here at Poisoned Rationality). I’ll touch on this later, but unlike in INDEXING, you can’t read these as individual episodes easily.
Review – INDEXING was a test in patience for me. I fell hard for that book, so for me waiting two weeks for each new episode was like pulling teeth. However on balance it turned out to be a very good thing. So when I saw the second season was approaching I jumped on it faster than a mouse on cheese. Yes I was in for another long period of OMG GIVE ME MORE NOW moments, but I knew it would be worth it.
I was not let down at all. Henry, Sloane, Jeff, Andy, and Demi are all back with vengeance (for some quite literally) to tackle a ghost from Henry’s past intent on taking back what she feels is rightfully hers. Along the way the team learns some very important truths about themselves (and each other). Isn’t that sweet? Like gum drop lollipops?
Fuck that they kick some ass, take names and then cram those names down their enemies throats.
McGuire further expanded upon her fracturing of the fairy tales in this book as well as delved into the history of the ATI Management Bureau, Sloane’s history (how she kicked her story in the face…look it was kind of sad and kind of awesome and all sorts of Sloane), and examined what exactly it means to be a victim of the Narrative. This was briefly shown with Demi, who’s Story went Active thanks to Henry in INDEXING, but watching Sloane literally fight her Story to remain true to herself, well that’s entirely different.
Sloane is, more than anything else, so very unique in this world. She fought her story. She continues to fight it every minute of every day. If there was any sort of justice, the kind that Adrianna and Birdie espouse, Sloane would have earned a different Story. Her reasons for fighting her story were selfless, she continues to fight it because to not fight it would hurt those she (grudgingly) cares for.
We see the early stages of what would eventually become the ATI Management Bureau (as an governmental body that is, there’s always been some sort of shadowy organization apparently) and really just how fucked up those folk were. Even those who are Story-touched, who are either Active or in Abeyance (like Sloane), they just don’t understand. Oh but I think they do after the Childe Prison problems.
Birdie, our dear antagonist from INDEXING (Tale Type: Mother Goose), returns though she was oddly sidelined for much of it. Don’t get me wrong, she had an important role in Adrianna’s plans, but you felt her machinations moreso than saw the woman herself. I was relieved more than anything, Birdie had an…irritating way about her. A patronizing motherly way (which makes sense).
Adrianna…she’s just as unique as Sloane in a lot of ways. She lived her Story and she twisted it so thoroughly its hardly recognizable. She was mentioned in INDEXING, as she’s a Snow White Tale Type like Henry. She is…imagine the exact opposite of Disney’s Snow White, except with the same gleeful cheeriness that she possessed. Adrianna wanted. She was both patient (she learned how to use the White Out Woods, how to use the Snow Girls, to achieve her ends) and impatient (she took a chance with Henry, but didn’t properly follow through on that chance before letting it all go sideways).
It always comes back to the blood on snow, to sacrifice and wishes, to vanity and pride. Who knows what the truth behind the Snow White tale is; variations of the tale are in so many cultures, cultures that had little overlap. The tale that McGuire weaves, that Henry learns and finally understands, who’s to say it wasn’t the truth for some poor long forgotten girl?
One thing to remember is that unlike how much of INDEXING could be read as separate stories–much like a TV series in that some stood more individual than others–that’s not as possible with this book. You need at least some idea of the first book’s events and to pay attention each chapter to to chapter. In this I think, like the first book, it serves a reader better to read week to week. I admit I didn’t always remember what had happened part to part. I read a lot of them quickly, in between the stresses of the holidays.
I’d also recommend listening to the audiobooks for both–Mary Robinette Kowal is an excellent narrator. As I was reading the book I could “hear” her Sloane in my head, “hear” her Henry. They also make for very quick and well paced listens as well.
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Published by: 47North
Release: January 12, 2016 (full ebook)
Series: Second in Series
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