Not sure why it has taken me this long to getting around to reviewing this one. I quite liked it and actually thought this novel felt more cohesive as one story compared to its predecessor, even though both were Kindle Serials.
As the novel starts, Elise Walton, a minor villain introduced in Indexing and a Wicked Stepsister archetype, escapes from the high security magical prison where the characters are kept. Some of the prisoners have committed horrible crimes, but others are innocent but can’t be released because their presence would activate stories, causing unforeseen mayhem and disruption. Not only has Elise escaped, she has changed her story. Somehow, through her actions and beliefs, the narrative no longer views her as a Wicked Stepsister but as a Cinderella, the hero of the story rather than a supporting character.
Mother Goose, the main villain of Indexing also escaped, and they have taken a confused and active Rapunzel along with them to create further chaos. Henry tries to find answers by going into the Snow White forest of her dreams where all the former Snow Whites end up after they die but while this approach isn’t exactly wrong, she ends up having some issues with the execution.
The novel reveals Sloan’s origin story, and what stopped her narrative before she completed her path to evil, murderous stepsister. Given Sloan’s status as a Wicked Stepsister, she has a conflicted view towards the evil Cinderella. Sloan did not want to be a Wicked Stepsister, and the idea that she can change her story does have a certain appeal but changing the story hasn’t made the villains any less villainous. Their team’s investigations reveal that other character’s stories have also been changing, making them realize what is on the line if they can’t stop Elise and Birdie before they complete their evil master plan.
As always, I am a sucker for fairy tales and alternative views so I really enjoyed this one. While I thought Indexing would have worked perfectly well as a standalone, this novel shows that there was space to explore the premise more without spreading it too thin. In some ways, this novel even worked better since all the character introductions and initial world building are already complete, and this simply adds more to it. The new characters were also a nice addition, especially the Bluebeard’s wife who works for the agency.