Indexing is a book about stories, the stories that make up our life and the stories that define our identity. It is also very much a meta-fictional story, because it is a story about fairy tales. Fairy tales trying to control the stories of our world no less.
I have seen the premise of the book before in the Danish author Dennis Jürgensen‘s book Et Grimm’t Eventyr, which has not been translated into English. Though in Jürgensen’s book the agents traveled into the fairy tales instead of the fairy tales trying to take over our world. The idea of a secret government agency dealing with the supernatural and trying to make sure the regular people don’t notice anything, is hardly a new one, however Indexing did feel very fresh to me.
The characters starts out as being very sharply drawn characters, but that is feeding into the idea of them being fairy tale archetypes so that is perfect. Over the course of the book they get more fleshed out and turns into humans instead of archetypes. More than one of the supporting cast is quiltbag which is always great to see. One of them is even a trans-man – see my thoughts on that in my reading progress. I really like how all of the characters are fighting against being defined by the archetypes that the fairy tale has cast them into – much like we are all trying to be individuals and not just the labels society slaps on us. This is very much a story about carving out your own identity and refusing to let those labels define you.
The writing is deceivingly simple and very effective. The sentences are not long, hard to follow or full of crazy esotic words, they are however emcaptulating the scenes perfectly. There is a humor to the writing that puts a big smile of the face most of the time. The dialog is witty and have me giggling repeatably. The book is funny but it is also quite heart wrenching at times – which is very typical for Seanan McGuire.
There are some lovely domestic scenes scattered among the action scenes showing us that yes these people are really perfectly ordinary humans who put their pants on one leg at the time. I love domestic scenes in books and movies – especially when they are a bit whimsical. The domestic scenes are the ones that actually convince me that I am visiting a different world, not just reading a story.
Indexing made me want to go read all the fairy tales it was referencing. In the end i didn’t read all of them, but I did read a good chunk of them. If I had not done that I would have read it in two days, however the fairy tales slowed down my reading quite a bit. But I had fun reading it and it made me want to learn more about fairy tales as a literary genre – I even ordered some books at my local library. Any book that makes me go research has captured me quite deeply and is in my book, a good book. This is by the way a place where reading on my tablet really comes in handy – it lets me look up things along the way. Let me go directly to wikipedia to look up who a character is or read a fairytale right way when it is referenced.
All in all it is very entertaining urban fantasy book with a lot of action and witty dialog. It has some slow moments along the way and the plot does take some time to kick into gear, however I was never bored.
If you want to read my thoughts as I read the book I have a reading progress post here.