Book Review – Indexing by Seanan McGuire

Posted October 24, 2013 by Bonnie in Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2013 / 14 Comments

Book Review – Indexing by Seanan McGuireIndexing by Seanan McGuire
Published by 47North on May 21st 2013
Pages: 347
Genres: Fairy-Tales/Retellings, Fantasy
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased

Also by this author: Rosemary and Rue, A Local Habitation, Night and Silence


“Never underestimate the power of a good story.”

Good advice...especially when a story can kill you.

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.

Indexing is New York Times bestselling author Seanan McGuire’s new urban fantasy where everything you thought you knew about fairy tales gets turned on its head.

Indexing was first released as a Kindle Serial and was a bi-weekly mini-party every Tuesday considering how eagerly I awaited the latest installment. The first episode is epic and I can’t even begin to express my love for it. The introduction to this fairy-tale world was perfection. It got a full 5 stars from me and set the bar extremely high for the subsequent stories. This fairy tale world was extremely similar in scope to the graphic novel series ‘Fables’ but in comparison I found the characters were more vibrant and witty and infinitely entertaining. Each Kindle serial, for the most part, managed as a stand-alone and didn’t leave you too exasperated with having to wait another two weeks for more. I say ‘for the most part’ because something happened around episode 8 (out of a total of 12) that took the series into a total nosedive, but I’ll get into that more in a minute.

The ATI (Aarne-Thompson Index) Management Bureau is a covert government agency that monitors fairy tale manifestations and prevents them from getting out of control. According to Wiki, “The Aarne–Thompson tale type index is a multivolume listing designed to help folklorists identify recurring plot patterns in the narrative structures of traditional folktales, so that folklorists can organize, classify, and analyze the folktales they research.” This index system is used as the basis for classifying manifestations that happen in the real world, where children are born predisposed to being a Sleeping Beauty or a Snow White or even a Pied Piper. If unleashed, their fairy tale influence could wreak havoc on the world. All manner of fairy tales are covered: Peter Pans and Cinderellas, Donkeyskins and Beautiful Vassilisas, a Mother Goose, Wicked Stepsisters, Billy Goats Gruff, The Showmaker and the Elves, etc.

So what worked well? Personally I loved the combination of fairy tales and urban fantasy that ultimately made up this story. It was imaginative and creative and really enjoyed the details that went into this. Each individual was given a bit of back story although I believe this could have been further expounded on to showcase their growth. While I didn’t end up preferring one character over another, they all as a whole really added life and charm to this story.

In the end though, I was left ultimately disappointed. When thinking back on the story as a whole, I think it was easy to overlook the choppy feel of the writing since we’re only given bits and pieces at a time. If read as a whole I think it would have been far more obvious and apparent that the story lacked a fully fleshed out plot and was really rather feeble. It didn’t feel as if it was planned as a full novel and was instead planned out as each episode was written. Ultimately, the ending felt strange and disconnected from where it seemed like the story was going and left me with far more unanswered questions than I like.


14 responses to “Book Review – Indexing by Seanan McGuire

  1. The world sounds fascinating, but it’s a shame the overall plot disappointed you. I always wonder with these serials if the author is pantsing as they go, or if they write it all in advance and just chop it up. It certainly seems like the former in this case. Still, the comparison to Fables has me curious enough to give it a try. Thanks for your honest review!
    Lauren recently posted…ALTERED Blog Tour: Deleted Scene & GiveawayMy Profile

    • It’s totally the former. I follow the author on Twitter and she was taking a poll on a certain fairy tale topic and I could tell she was writing up the next episode. Which, that could totally work fine but clearly didn’t in this case.

  2. Oh this sounds awesome and I really want to read Seanan McGuire! I loved her Feed series so I know she’s a great author and she really does a fab job building her world and making her characters realistic. Well at least she did in Feed lol. It’s too bad the writing in this one felt choppy though maybe the fairy tale plot is not her usual style? she does mostly sci fi and UF eh? Maybe this would have worked better as an anthology of sorts. Anyways. Great review, chick! 🙂
    Giselle recently posted…Review: Bold Tricks by Karina HalleMy Profile

    • You know, I think you’re right. This would have worked far better as an anthology and short stories about that fairy tale world. Funny but it actually started out feeling like with no real solid direction as far as plot. I think that’s why the ending felt so off, because it didn’t have a clear and consistent plot throughout. Nevertheless it was enjoyable. 🙂
      Bonnie recently posted…Audiobook Review – The Bone Season by Samantha ShannonMy Profile

  3. Oh, I hate it when I think I really like something until I spend some time reflecting upon it and realize that I really don’t love it nearly as much as I first thought. I’m sorry that happened to you with this one!
    I haven’t read any Seanan McGuire, but I had such hope for this one. No way I was going to be content with a little snippet each week, though – I planned on waiting until the entire serial was complete. Perhaps that isn’t the smartest move, given what you see as Indexing’s greatest flaw. This sounds like it has so much potential though. And I’m actually familiar with the ATI index, and I love that McGuire is using it. Hmm, maybe this can be a library read. Or I’ll at least sample it first.
    Amanda @ Late Nights with Good Books recently posted…Review: All Our Yesterdays by Cristin TerrillMy Profile

  4. If there’s one thing Seanan doesn’t lack, it’s imagination. Her stories are always so well structured and original.
    They won’t let me download this, can you imagine? I tried to get it on Amazon the second I saw you reading it, but it’s not available for us poor Euros. Life simply isn’t fair sometimes.
    Great review hon.
    Maja (The Nocturnal Library) recently posted…Audiobook Review: RooftoppersMy Profile

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