Review: Reflections by Seanan McGuire
This book was a personal purchase.
(Description nicked from B&N.com.)
“The struggle against not-so-charming storybook narratives isn’t the only complicating factor in Henrietta ‘Henry’ Marchen’s life. As part of the ATI Management Bureau team protecting the world from fairy tales gone awry, she’s juggling her unwanted new status as a Snow White, dealing with a potentially dangerous Pied Piper, and wrangling a most troublesome wicked stepsister—along with a budding relationship with Jeff, her teammate.
But when a twisted, vicious Cinderella breaks out of prison and wreaks havoc, things go from disenchanted to deadly. And once Henry realizes someone is trying to use her to destroy the world, her story becomes far from over—and this one might not have a happily ever after.”
This one is a little difficult to review, since I read it in serial format. Amazon Kindle released this book a chapter at a time over the course of about six months, so for me, the story felt spread out. (Yes, it was spread out, but some people retain details better than I do.) I would actually be interested to know if McGuire wrote this book in discrete sections, or if she wrote it like a “normal” novel. The reason I’m curious is because, for me, I felt certain themes and images got repetitive–the coloration of the Snow Whites, for example, or the fact that the SWs fate always ends in blood and snow, things like that. It isn’t so noticeable in serial format, but I think that presented as a single package, it might be more visible.
Regardless, I did like this book, for all that it took me six months to get the entire story. The one thing that the serialization did was increase the sense of tension in the narrative. When you have to wait two weeks in between chapters, you have a lot of time to wonder what happens next! With an author who is already good at creating suspense, you can imagine that this format definitely keeps you coming back for more.
Aside from the format, I enjoy how McGuire delves into the roots of fairy tales, and I enjoy how she uses the actual ATI (yes, it does exist) not only as her research foundation but as an integral part of the novel. Most people aren’t aware of the earliest forms of some of the most well-known fairy tales, much less how they might interrelate and feed off of each other. I think a lot of us have gotten used to interweaving stories due to a steady diet of the television show Once Upon a Time, but I think this series uses that device to much better effect.
Of all of the characters, I like Sloane, the wicked stepsister, the best. This book gives a lot more of her backstory, and it really made me want to see more of her life and the formation of the ATI bureau. Perhaps the author will tackle that next, as it feels like a logical extension of what has gone before. Sloane feels like the most complicated character in the story–she’s a villain who constantly fights her dark impulses but also, in certain ways, lets that nature sneak through to her everyday life. I have a fondness for bad guys that dabble in the good side of things, as it often makes for fascinating reading.
While the format creates excitement, I’d also love to see this as a normally-published series. Either way, I hope that we get more. Fans of fairy tales and dark magic will truly enjoy this book.