Indexing by Seanan McGuire: Book Review

Indexing by Seanan McGuire book review

What is this about?: This is a fairytale retelling — and by that I mean all of them — set within a bureau dedicated to making sure fairytales don’t eff the world up.

What else is this about?: This started as a Kindle serial, so it is an exploration of the world at large, rather that too much focus on the characters. But, I didn’t feel like I missed anything because as the end points out, this team is family.

Stars: 4/5

Blurb: “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.

I feel the need to add a requisite Snow White gif here of her dancing in joy because this is what I was doing when I finished:

Indexing by Seanan McGuire book review

Indexing is absolutely that good! This is the story of a team at the ATI Management Bureau, which is dedicated to stopping fairytale characters and their stories from activating: like a Peter Pan about to jump off a roof, convinced he’s going to fly, or a Little Mermaid, who happens to be a guy, who had plastic surgery after an accident, got a throat infection and lost his voice.

That’s how this world works, and the Narrative, the story that controls these humans, turns them into their fairytale selves when the circumstances are just right. Or to be more accurate, creates the circumstances in which these characters are activated.

And it’s up to the ATIMB to stop these characters from being activated, and ruining their lives and the lives of the humans around them. This book follows Henry, the team leader and Snow White in waiting, Sloane who fulfills the wicked step-sister role, Jeff who has a thing for cobbling, and Andy who is a PR dream. And also human.

Sloane and Henry are a delight in this book, bitching at each other like they truly are step-siblings, and while trying not to be too obvious in how much they care about each other. The stories may be standalone serials, but the thread binding them all together is Henry and Sloane’s relationship, with the rest of the team rounding out the cast of characters and the stories.

I read this unaware it was a serial until the end, and it didn’t detract anything from the book. By the end, the larger threads were coming together to give the book a conclusion, but honestly, I wouldn’t have missed it if it wasn’t there. Just think of this like a collection of short stories set in one world.

This is one of the most innovative, exciting fairy tale retellings I’ve read recently. I’m a mystery junkie, so right there it’s a win. And the urban fantasy world grows with each story, creating a full world by the end. Oh man, this is so GOOD.


  • I haven’t heard too much about this one (which is a surprise because Seanan McGuire is so beloved by bloggers) so I’m excited to hear that it worked so well for you! She’s the queen of urban fantasy as far as I’m concerned, and if anyone can write a truly original UF fairy tale retelling, it’s her.

    The only serials that I’ve read are Kelley Armstrong’s City of the Lost and Ilona Andrews’ Innkeeper Chronicles, but I loved both of them!

    • Verushka says:

      I didn’t even know Armstrong and Andrews did serials — thanks for the heads up on that! I am not a fan of McGuire’s Daye series, but her other work? OMG, so good. SO GOOD. She’s such a wonderfully exciting, creative writer!

  • Oh, I MUST read this. I love the premise behind this one. Too fun.


  • This is about fairy tales? I feel like you review all these books that I think are about one thing and then I actually come to your blog and see your review and it turns out they’re about something completely different lol. But hmmm… I’m not sure this would be too my liking if it’s not really focused on the characters, but if Sloane and Henry are a constant and create a thread that binds all the stories, that could work for me. And your mentions of the Peter Pan and Little Mermaid things have me intrigued. I’ll put this on my list so I don’t forget about it 🙂

    • Verushka says:

      Thank you 🙂 I like to keep you on your toes 😉 I think a better way to describe this is Sloane and Henry are the focus, but she does build the other members in the team in little bits. Their info is doled out as part of the stories, without the intense focus like there is on Sloane and Henry. I hope you give it a try — I think you might like it!

  • Silvia says:

    You should know by now that it’s very difficult (if not rare) that a re-telling doesn’t catch my attention, soooo . . . Let’s add this to the endless list, shall we? 😉 It really sounds like a winning one, hope it works as well for me as it worked for you!

  • Huh! This sounds pretty amazing and I love your review but I’m just not sure if this one is for me… I’m going to keep an eye out for it and if I come across it I’ll probably give it a go, however I won’t be actually searching it out…. I’m not sure. Something about it just doesn’t seem like it’s totally for me!

    Great review though.

    • Verushka says:

      Aw! This is one of those books I just want everyone to love, but I hear you — some things just don’t click 🙂

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