Being caught up on all the InCryptid novels and the short stories/novellas that are available for free (there are a few more in collections I don’t feel like paying for yet), I continued down the Seanan McGuire rabbit hole to this novel. While it didn’t grip me as quickly as the InCryptid series, I enjoyed the concept, and ended up having fun once I got used to the characters and the team.
This was originally written as a Kindle Serial, and while it is now a complete novel, it is obvious that this was released in parts since the chapters tend to repeat the character descriptions, making the same points about Henry, the Snow White character, and her complexion and coloring, among other things. I absolutely get why it’s there for a serial publication, but now that the chapters are all compiled, I had a moment or two of, “I get it already, ‘skin as white as snow and lips as red as blood’ is a description that actually leads to a very odd looking person, rather than an attractive one.”
Henry and her team help prevent fairy tales from happening. Fairy tales have touched or disrupted the lives of the entire team in some way or another. Sloane fits the archetype of the wicked stepsister, Jeremy is an elf from the shoemaker story, Henry of course is a Snow White archetype, and Andy’s brother was the casualty of a Sleeping Beauty story, which led him to the government agency that stops the stories. While one might think a fairy tale is a happy story with a happily ever after, usually these stories involve a lot of collateral damage so Henry and her team try to stop them. For example, Sleeping Beauty stories might involve the Sleeping Beauty character and those in her proximity to fall into a coma, but unlike the fairy tales, if these people aren’t hooked up to life support quickly, they will die. Also, depending on which variety of the story is occurring one can never tell if Sleeping Beauty is going to take a castle out with her or the whole kingdom (or in this case city). That’s some massive potential for collateral damage.
As the novel begins, Henry and the team have to stop a Sleeping Beauty story from going live, and end up activating a Pied Piper to save the city. The Piper joins the team, and the first few chapters show the team fighting against various stories from occurring. However, they soon start realizing that an unusual amount of stories have almost gone active in a short period of time, leading to a startling discovery.
I grew up on Grimm’s Fairy Tales so I always appreciate a good interpretation of a fairy tale, and this was a fun take on stories, narratives and storytellers. There are some parts where it is fairly obvious that this is a serial story rather than a traditional novel, but the chapters mostly fit together well, building to a larger story even if McGuire could have easily made this into a series of chapters about various fairy tales without leading to a big build up. I wouldn’t put it up there with her other two series but definitely an engaging time.