These two books are wonderful treasures spawned by the unusual and unfathomable mind of Seanan McGuire. The world concept is most unusual. Fairy Tale Archetypes are infiltrating our world and creating havoc. A few hundred years ago, an organization arose whose purpose was to contain these intrusions. The ATI Management Bureau is now a very secret agency of the United States Government. The Bureau often utilizes inactive archetypes as agents. One Henrietta Marchen, a mostly inactive Snow White, leads an elite team consisting of Jeff, a Shoemaker's Elf; Sloane, a Treacherous Sister; Demi, a Pied Piper; and others in the endless battles with active Snow Whites, Pied Pipers, Sleeping Beauties, Pusses in Boots.
In the first book, Henry and her team face threats from within. The Bureau unknowingly harbors a Mother Goose tale-telling archetype. The fat is the fire and Henry and her team must scramble to save the Bureau and the world.
In the second book, a breakout from Childe Prison where the unresolvable Archetypes are held endangers all that Henry's team accomplished earlier. They must descend the Beanstalk into the unknowable regions outside of our reality.
What is really wonderful about this book is first person narrative style. While the stories' point of view is mostly Henry's, other characters' points of view are presented when necessary. This allows you to appreciate how the characters actions are affected by their narrative. Each agent's solution to a problem reflects the influence of their Archetype. Sloane wants to poison. Jeff wants to hit things with a hammer. Demi wants to pipe things. All of these tendencies prove useful, but each agent must guard against letting his or her narrative rule.
Like all of Seanan's books, the concepts are bizarre, off the wall and delightful. Read these books. ~~ Gary Swaty