Khanh the Killjoy

Indexing - Seanan McGuire Actual rating: 2.5"'Once upon a fuck, you people,' I muttered."Indexing is like the X-Files, if the X-Files were about fairy tales instead of aliens and monsters, without the underlying Mulder/Scully sexual tension between the agents. It's the premise of a thousand other TV shows, comic books, and movies. A secret government agencies designed to keep people in the real world in the dark about what's really going on. The agency in question here is the ATI Management Bureau, ATI being short for Aarne-Thompson Index, an index used to measure and keep track of real-life fairy tale manifestations. The agency in this serial operates under this premise: all fairy tales are real. Snow White, Jack and the Beanstalk, etc. All of them. They may not always be accurate to the Grimm version, but they exist, and they manifest themselves in the real world. The ATI Management Bureau's jobs is to keep these manifestations under control, so that normal humans don't get pulled into them and overwhelmed by them. This is a world where Sleeping Beauties can be raped while comatose, where a Pied Piper can pull thousands of rats and vermins from the city sewers, where evil stepsisters can be killer. The ATIMB's job is to keep us safe and unaware of these manifestations so that we can sleep easy in our warm beds at night with our children dreaming about Sleeping Beauty being awakened by a handsome prince's kiss, instead of dying from a actual Sleeping Beauty's uncontrolled manifestation."...a four-ten manifested in a small beachside community, and no one noticed. She put the whole town to sleep, and this is the real world, which tends to be pretty straightforward about things like 'humans need to eat' and 'if you sleep for three weeks without any medical treatment of any kind, you will die.' By the time the four-ten herself died, breaking the spell cast by her presence, no one lived there anymore."The ATI have codes for every manifestation; for example, a 709 is a Snow White manifestation, a 410 is a Sleeping Beauty, a 280 is a Pied Piper, etc. The agents themselves were previously part of a manifestation themselves, or else had their story "averted." Our main character, Henrietta Marchen (yes, her last name means fairy tale in German), is the child of a manifestation, as well as one herself. She is a 709, a Snow White, but not one of the lovely Disney creatures you see walking around the park, smiling and posing with children. Henry does have an affinity for woodland creatures and a tendency to make flowers grow on carpet (not an entirely useful skill), but that's where the resemblance ends."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."This book is not a book, but an e-novella, delivered through a Kindle subscription every two weeks. We first meet Henry and the ATI as they're investigating a case. In the first two chapters, we're introduced to the ATI, given a rough idea of what they do, and we meet the other members of the team (including Sloane, an averted Wicked Stepsister, with the pain-in-the-ass attitude to match). The first few episodes were really boring; I never really bought into the premise of the ATI, and I was still pretty fuzzy on the premise of the ATI Management Bureau itself. After the first three episodes or so, we get into more of a groove, with each subsequent episode telling the story of a case. After the first two episodes, things picked up. The cases are amusing, short, an interesting spin on the original fairy tales. It gradually becomes less X-Files, and more Fringe. I think the concept of the ATI works best if you don't think too much about the agency or the concept, and instead focus on the interpretations of the fairy tales themselves.Episode 1 and 2: introduction of the ATIMB, a Sleeping Beauty and a Pied Piper, as well as the recruitment of a new team member.Episode 3: A Red Riding Hood case (with bears!)Episode 4: Sloane's continuing story as the Wicked StepsisterEpisode 5: just released a few days ago, and I've yet to read it.It's just not too successful a premise altogether. Maybe it's just me; I have yet to meet a Mira Grant/Seanan McGuire character I actually like. I never really felt connected to any of the team members, or to our narrator, even if the author does her best to give us a sad backstory on most of the agents. This may be due to the fact that the novella is still so short and only in its fifth installment, and there hasn't been time for anyone to develop a personality. Rest assured, they all have bad backstories. As previously mentioned, these are not Disney movies with the associated happy endings. These fairy tales are much Grimmer.Come on, you guys knew that pun was coming from a mile away.In summary: this series is just ok. If you want alternative retellings of fairy tales, there are better ones out there. I would suggest you reach for one of the excellent anthologies edited by Ellen Datlow et al, before resorting to this.