Review: Borderline by Mishell Baker

Borderline by Mishell Baker (The Arcadia Project #1)

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Publisher: Saga Press on March 1, 2016

Source: Library

A cynical, paraplegic screenwriter with borderline personality disorder gets recruited to join a secret organization that oversees relations between Hollywood and Fairyland in the first book of a new urban fantasy series from debut author Mishell Baker.

  

Darkly funny, atmospheric, and diverse, Mishell Baker’s BORDERLINE is the first in a whip-smart urban fantasy series set in Los Angeles. And the best part? There’s only one book out so far, so there’s not too much to catch up on! To say that I liked this would be a massive understatement — it’s easily one of the best UF debuts I’ve ever read. Word to the wise, though: this book is dark and self-harm and suicidal ideation are prevalent, so if that’s a problem for you I’d steer clear.

Millie Roper has hit rock bottom: struggling with borderline personality disorder, she attempted suicide…and only succeeded in losing both her legs and her fledgling career in the film industry. Given her somewhat spectacular way of burning bridges, there doesn’t seem like much hope of reviving her career even six months after the attempt, which is why Mille’s justifiably shocked when she’s offered a job working in the industry again. Recruited by the Arcadia Project, a shadowy organization that works in the back rooms of Hollywood, Millie begins living and working with a rag-tag group of the Project’s employees. Together they wrangle film stars and directors, and Millie sees the chance to give directing another go. But when Millie learns that the Project’s clients are all fae, or the humans who work with them, she’s thrown for a loop. She’s not crazy enough to believe that…is she?

Joining the Project is like getting a second chance at life for Millie, but it’s hardly smooth sailing. It turns out that living in a communal residence full of similarly mentally ill and often erratic people isn’t a walk in the park — particularly for a woman who occasionally needs a wheelchair. Add to that chasing down a missing fae Viscount (long story), dealing with the chronic pain of her physical disability, and grappling with the realities of her borderline personality disorder, and Millie’s in for quite the wild ride. The lack of straight answers about the fae and their abilities combined with the practically indecipherable world of fae politics may be frustrating for Millie, but the slow reveal of layer upon layer of the world in BORDERLINE makes for very satisfying reading.

If you’re anything like me, you probably won’t always like Millie. Baker does an amazing job representing a serious case of borderline personality disorder, which means that we see Millie at her absolute worst. BPD impacts mood, resulting in erratic behaviour, instability, and unpredictable self-image. It’s also characterized by impulsive behaviour and unhealthy personal relationships, all of which we see with Millie. One moment she’s all sparkling wit and charm and smoothness, the next she’s blatantly manipulative and exploitative. One moment she’s someone’s best friend, the next she’s trying to bash their head in with her cane. Yet somehow despite, or maybe because of, all this, Millie’s an easy character to fall for. There’s something very raw and exposed about her, and her unpredictable nature makes for a very compelling protagonist. Millie has been through the ringer but she keeps getting back up — even if she needs prosthetics, a cane, and a wheelchair to do it.

With a compelling protagonist, a diverse cast of characters, and a distinctly unique take on urban fantasy, Mishell Baker’s BORDERLINE is well worth the read. Definitely one of the best books I’ve read so far in 2017!

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