urban fantasy

Indexing by Seanan McGuire

17907054.jpgTitle: Indexing (Indexing #1)

Author: Seanan McGuire

Genre: Urban Fantasy, Fairy Tale Retelling

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Summary:

“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.

There’s a lot of fairy tale retellings being published, and to be honest, it’s getting kinda old. I love me some fairy tales, but seriously, there’s only so much recycling of stories a girl can take. It’s getting hard to sift through all the retellings to find a book that has the perfect balance of retelling a tale yet bringing in something original to the story.

If you want something different, Indexing is the book for you. This book originally began as a Kindle serial, which are books published in episodes. Buying a Kindle serial guarantees you’re getting all the existing episodes + any more future episodes in the book when they’re published.

I read Indexing as a whole, so my reading experience may be different from others. I’ve noticed there’s a difference who watch TV series in bulk vs those who wait for a new episode every week (and a new season every year), so I imagine it might be similar with books. XD

But I digress.

Indexing follows the story of Henrietta Marchen (Marchen = fairy tale in German, heh), who heads a team at the Aarne-Thompson Index (ATI) Management Bureau. This agency basically protects the world from fairy tales (because in this world, they are real), which are dangerous because they push their way into the world and will do everything to make sure their story gets told, even if it means people will get hurt–or die–in the process.

I’m sure a lot of people would think, hey fairy tales have happy endings anyway, so why don’t they just let them be? The answer is: these fairy tales aren’t the watered down Disney version where no one except the villain gets hurt. Nope, we’ve got the dark, dark original tales where the Little Mermaid kills herself, or Sleeping Beauty gets raped while in a coma. Yikes. There’s also the disturbing fact that anyone who gets in the way of the story–whether they’re aware or not–will definitely get hurt or killed..or manipulated to make sure the narrative continues. Definitely a reason for concern, don’t you think? XD

Each episode in this book deals with a fairy tale archetype (or sometimes several), and the indexing in the title comes into play as the Index, which collects all information on each fairy tale and its variations. Each fairy tale has its own code in the Index, like Snow White is a 709 and Rapunzel is a 310, etc.

Henrietta, who interestingly is born a Snow White, struggles with her identity every day while running around trying to stop fairy tales from bringing about chaos in the real world. Her team consists of Sloane (once a Wicked Stepsister), Jeff (classified as an Elf from The Elves and the Shoemaker), Demi (a Pied Piper), and Andy (normal but has encountered the tragedy of a fairy tale coming true).

I think this is a really, really original retelling of many different tales, and I like how the fairy tales are so dark and morbid. I thought the many ways Henrietta and her team solve each mystery most of the time were really clever, and several episodes were deliciously creepy (which is both good and bad when you’re huddled in bed trying to read at 2 in the morning lol).

I’ll admit the Index was a bit overwhelming and hard to understand at first, as well as the ATI, but once you get into it, seeing the different fairy tales and how they unfold (or not) is quite interesting. I found a couple of episodes a bit too slow or boring, but most of the episodes are really great.

I really loved the characters too, especially angry, angry Sloane who is always one second away from murdering everyone around her. XD They were just so fun and…not normal, and the team’s dynamic was really good (despite their clashing personalities–and stories–at times) so I really liked seeing how everyone got together to solve each puzzle.

I think this is a great book to read if you want a darker and grittier fairy tale retelling. Plus, it’s a lot of retellings in one book! Great bonus, if you ask me.

The Fever series by Karen Marie Moning

18664342Title: The Fever Series

Author: Karen Marie Moning

Genre: Adult, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy, Mystery

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Summary:

When her sister is murdered, leaving a single clue to her death—a cryptic message on MacKayla Lane’s cell phone–Mac journeys to Ireland in search of answers. The quest to find her sister’s killer draws her into a shadowy realm where nothing is as it seems, where good and evil wear the same treacherously seductive mask. She is soon faced with an even greater challenge: staying alive long enough to learn how to handle a power she had no idea she possessed—a gift that allows her to see beyond the world of man, into the dangerous realm of the Fae.

I’m reviewing the entire series as a whole because I binge-read it and I have too many feels + it would be too spoilery to review them all. Haha. Also I honestly lack the skill to express just how good this series is so I made this list of reasons why it is amazing and why you should definitely read it:

  1. I read six books in this series in a week. Which is saying something considering how short my attention span is lately. XD  To be honest, I’ve seen a lot of praise for this on Goodreads. I was hesitant to start the series though, because the cover of Darkfever (at least the first one I saw on Goodreads heh) looked like something from the New Adult genre and I wasn’t in the mood to read NA. But now I’m really, really glad I read the series because it was so much more than I ever expected. 
  2. The characters. Ms. Moning is an excellent writer who gives us well-written, complicated characters that you just can’t help but love and cheer for. The main characters, Mac and Barrons, are the epitome of everything I hate in characters. Mac is that silly, spoiled, weak, selfish girly girl who whines a lot. Barrons is a douchebag who is possessive and violent and the ultimate alpha male. Despite that, I love them. I’ll admit I was pretty annoyed while I read Darkfever, but they grew on me. It’s amazing. I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that I love them so so much that I am already dying for the next book, which doesn’t come out until next year. RIP me. I particularly love Mac soooo much, she’s an excellent example that female characters CAN be as tough as nails (ala Katniss Everdeen) AND enjoy fashion/shopping/painting your nails/etc too. Because being feminine doesn’t mean you’re weak! The Unseelie King is another fave, but I refuse to say anything else because everything is potentially spoiler-ish. Lol.
  3. The world-building. Even if for nothing else, read it for the magnificent world Ms. Moning has created. My mind was blown away by the different courts and kinds of Fae she created. I want to live in this world, even if it’s only so I can meet Barrons i’m so shallow lmao Just keep those fecking Shades away from me! I’m afraid Ms. Moning has upped my standards to impossibly high levels for urban fantasy and Fae-related stories because this is probably the best Fae-related plot I’ve read.
  4. Excellent writing. I’m super super glad there were three public holidays last week because I spent them all hiding underneath the sheets while reading the books. I couldn’t put them down, even when I was freaking out because the Shades are so scary and and my brain was frantically wondering if they’re nomming on me now in the dark? but who cares because I need to know who killed Alina and what the hell Barrons is and how Mac is going to survive all this shit?? Also can I just say that it is super, super awesome how Mac gets into shit and she always gets out of it herself instead of Barrons or V’lane or some other guy swooping in to save her?? Mac is awesome, guys.

Confession time: Okay, fine, I skipped Iced because Dani’s way of talking annoys me so I don’t know if I can survive a whole book of “fecks” and “dudes” but I will attempt to read this eventually!! I mean, I love Dani but I can only stand her in small doses :(((( I’m hoping this will change when I get around to reading Iced. X’D

 

Rook by Daniel O’Malley

10836728Title: Rook (The Checquy Files #1)

Author: Daniel O’Malley

Genre: Science Fiction, Urban Fantasy, Mystery 

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Summary:

“The body you are wearing used to be mine.” So begins the letter Myfanwy Thomas is holding when she awakes in a London park surrounded by bodies all wearing latex gloves. With no recollection of who she is, Myfanwy must follow the instructions her former self left behind to discover her identity and track down the agents who want to destroy her. She soon learns that she is a Rook, a high-ranking member of a secret organization called the Chequy that battles the many supernatural forces at work in Britain. She also discovers that she possesses a rare, potentially deadly supernatural ability of her own. In her quest to uncover which member of the Chequy betrayed her and why, Myfanwy encounters a person with four bodies, an aristocratic woman who can enter her dreams, a secret training facility where children are transformed into deadly fighters, and a conspiracy more vast than she ever could have imagined. Filled with characters both fascinating and fantastical, THE ROOK is a richly inventive, suspenseful, and often wry thriller that marks an ambitious debut from a promising young writer.

“The body you are wearing used to be mine.”

It’s an intriguing start for a book, one that wanna makes you read on. Unfortunately, the info dumps in the first half of the book that so conveniently spell out everything for our amnesiac heroine almost put me to sleep. I almost DNF’d this because I kept falling asleep in the middle of a looong explanation about someone or something related to the Checquy.

Now, I’m not a hater of info dumps. I’ve read and loved many books, such as Feed and Ready Player One, that have a lot of information thrown at you. I quite like explanations, really, because it helps me understand the characters and the world they live in better. So I guess Rook was an exception. Sometimes the explanations were so long that I wanted to just throw the book away. I honestly don’t know how Myfanwy managed to read and absorb so much of that huge purple encyclopedia binder she carried around in such a short span of time.

I actually managed to completely miss an important plot twist because I was skimming some parts out of sheer boredom. I only realized it when people started getting murdered and I went back and reread stuff to get what was happening. Lol.

Another thing about the info dumps was they would pop up just as things were getting exciting. Here we have Myfanwy struggling in the present with some Chequy problem and just as it’s starting to get good, bam! Hello information from past self, let’s just fall asleep for a while. Instead of making me highly anticipate what the explanation was about and how it would help Myfanwy in her present sticky situation, it just made me close the book and go to sleep. Oop.

Despite all my whining, don’t let that put you off this book. I really enjoyed the humor throughout the book. It was quite entertaining and probably the sole reason why I slogged through the first, very slow part of the book.

The Chequy, which is a supernatural CIA-ish branch of the British government, and the people working for it were all interesting and, despite the info dumps I did not really enjoy, it’s quite an amazing organization. It doesn’t hurt that people have weird, random powers that ranged from really creepy to super cool.

Another intriguing thing that kept me reading is Myfanwy, both her past and present self. Past Myfanwy was a brilliant but passive administrator who had excellent organization skills. Present Myfanwy maintains that brilliance but drops the passive nature along with the loss of her memory. It was quite intriguing (and amusing, if a bit baffling) to see how an amnesiac managed to fool a whole branch of CIA-ish people into thinking she was quite all right WHILE trying to sniff out a traitor. Although sometimes it just wasn’t that believable that she managed so well and barely anyone was suspicious, especially since she started acting quite different from her past self.

The second half picks up the pace and makes up for all the complaining I had during the first half. A lot of shit happens, including people getting killed, creepy supposedly imaginary organizations come to life, not to mention Myfanwy meets her estranged sister.

There’s quite a lot going on in this book, which is surprising when I remember the first half, but the British humor is so on point here. I looove it so much. Despite the fact that Rook is a book filled with gore and murder and crazy shit going on (and a skinless man to boot!), it was quite surprising because I wasn’t really expecting it to be so…dark. I suspect Myfanwy’s humor and sort of laidback attitude throughout the whole ordeal influenced me into not really expecting horrific murders to happen lol. Or at least, read descriptive paragraphs of how people were being murdered. Heh.

I’m looking forward to reading the second book in this series, if only so I can enjoy more of that dark humor and to learn more about the Chequey and their creepy yet interesting enemy, the Grafters. 😀

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