Review: Borderline (The Arcadia Project #1), by Mishell Baker

June 2, 2016 Review 0

Review: Borderline (The Arcadia Project #1), by Mishell BakerBorderline by Mishell Baker
Series: The Arcadia Project #1
Published by Simon and Schuster on March 1st 2016
Genres: Fairy Tales, Folk Tales, Legends & Mythology, Fantasy, Urban
Format: Paperback
Pages: 400
Source: Publicity Agency
Reviewed by: Kim
3 Stars

A year ago, Millie lost her legs and her filmmaking career in a failed suicide attempt. Just when she’s sure the credits have rolled on her life story, she gets a second chance with the Arcadia Project: a secret organization that polices the traffic to and from a parallel reality filled with creatures straight out of myth and fairy tales.

For her first assignment, Millie is tasked with tracking down a missing movie star who also happens to be a nobleman of the Seelie Court. To find him, she’ll have to smooth-talk Hollywood power players and uncover the surreal and sometimes terrifying truth behind the glamour of Tinseltown. But stronger forces than just her inner demons are sabotaging her progress, and if she fails to unravel the conspiracy behind the noble’s disappearance, not only will she be out on the streets, but the shattering of a centuries-old peace could spark an all-out war between worlds.

No pressure.

BORDERLINE, by Mishell Baker, is a strange book, and I was never quite sure what it was trying to be; serious exploration of mental health disorders in a fantasy setting, a love letter to Hollywood, a dark fantasy world occasionally peppered with clever observation? The main character was super engaging (if not always particularly likeable), but the urban fantasy part left me wanting more.

This book feature an excellent portrayal of someone with borderline personality disorder. As someone who has been in therapy following her failed suicide attempt, Millie is equipped with all the right words to describe what she is feeling, and can often identify, if not stop, when she reacts in ways that don’t quite fit the “normal” standards. For example, she tends to see everything in black and white: things are great, or they are a disaster; someone is an angel, or the worst person in the world.

Unfortunately, all of the other characters’ mental health issues were much less well defined, and most of them came across as unnecessarily aggressive. If I was moving into a shared house with them, I would move out the next day. There was also the unbelievable fact that no one told Millie any of the rules of the house before she broke them, but then held her accountable for breaking them. I could have let this issue go the first time, but when they make her feel bad about taking a painkiller on her first night in the house, before they had told her she couldn’t keep “addicting substances in the house”, I just had to shake my head.

The fairy lore was interesting, and Millie’s special circumstances (all the metal bits holding her together post-accident) make her a powerful player, but I was always waiting for the fairy stuff to tie into the mental health stuff. Fairies and fairy magic is heavily tied to creative genius and mental well being, and I thought perhaps chemical imbalances were a way to see past fairy glamour or something. When the reason for only hiring people with mental health issues was revealed, it was a major let down.

I found that the “wacky set of characters living in a shared house doing something secret in order to safeguard the world” stuff was predictable, as were the bad guys and the resolution. I really liked reading about the daily struggles of someone with BPD, but the unoriginal urban fantasy plot left me unimpressed. I am curious to see how Millie gets on in the next book, but will only pick it up if the synopsis promises a whole new set of secondary characters.

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