Henrietta Marchen was a perfect exemplar of her kind. Her skin was white as snow, and never tanned or freckled; the best she’d ever been able to accomplish was a violent burn that turned her entire body as red as her lips, which were the color of fresh-drawn blood. Once, in the third grade, she had gotten in a fight with another student who insisted on calling her a clown. She had blackened both his eyes, and he had mashed her red lips back against her white teeth, until real blood appeared to make the contrast in her coloration even more glaring. She had smiled, bloody toothed and feral, until he started crying for his mommy, and he’d never called her clown again, and her classmates had stopped looking her in the eye.
Thanks to the events of the last episode, Henry’s not available to narrate this one. Which is frustrating because we readers want to know what’s going on with her, but is ever so cool and rewarding because we get this episode narrated by Sloane instead.
A first-person narrator change can be annoying, no doubt, but sometimes it’s just the breath of fresh air that a work needs (or can find useful). In this case, we get passages like this:
I lifted the apple, turned it to the side without tooth marks, and took a bite. It was firm and crisp and a little too floral for my taste. I’ve never understood the way Snow Whites yearn for apples, but then, they’ve never understood the way I long to kill them all, so I figure it balances out in the end.
Which absolutely makes this change worth it.
So we’re treated to some more of Sloane’s backstory than we’ve gotten before, we learn a bit more about the AFI’s Deputy Director, we get the return of the HR shrink from Episode 1 (we all knew we weren’t done with Ciara). We also see the team through Sloane’s eyes, as well as her unmediated take on Elise and Birdie.
There was nothing not to like about this Episode, it moved the story along well, was entertaining as all get out and shook up the status quo in a way that served the story and characters rather than being change for change’s shake.
If you’re reading this serially, or will read it when the whole is complete, I can assure you, this is going to be a favorite installment.