Thursday, September 19, 2013

WOGF: Redemption in Indigo

Karen Lord
Completed 9/13/2013, Reviewed 9/19/2013
Rating:  5 stars

This delightful fairy tale was a wonderful tonic for me after reading a tedious 600 page space opera.  The author uses an oral storyteller format.  While some authors turn this into an annoyance, Karen Lord uses it to create a magical feeling of being gathered around a fire in the center of a rustic village with the town storyteller gracing us with a parable of love, gluttony, chaos, and redemption.

The story takes place in a world subtly, and occasionally dramatically, manipulated by the “djombi,” the undying ones.  The main character is Paama, a woman who has left her gluttonous husband and receives a talisman that gives her the power of chaos.    A particularly powerful djombi wants this power.  Paama and the djombi travel through space and time learning from each other about this power, the nature of good and evil, and the nature of being human. 

Paama is a wonderful character.  She approaches her challenges with strength and pragmatism, but remains open and teachable.  I immediately fell in love with her.  As she interacts with the cast of colorful supporting characters, and finally the powerful djombi, I couldn’t help hoping she would come out on top.  I also loved Paama’s husband, despite being so flawed.  I think it is a tribute to her narrative style that I could find him despicable and yet feel immense empathy for him.  Despite being such a short book, Lord creates all her characters, no matter how minor, with the depth and simplicity.

I loved the many scenes with other djombi.  It’s quite fun watching them interact with and subtly manipulate the humans.  Lord’s storytelling creates such an awe-filled world that when you encounter the first scene between a djombi and a human, you accept it as a normal daily occurrence and giggle with the comedy it creates. 

The trickster, a spirit who pops up in many cultures, has a large role in this story too.  Some of the best scenes have the trickster appearing as a large spider, sitting at a bar and casually interacting with humans. 

“Redemption in Indigo” put me in an incredible place.  It affected me as only a few books recently have, such as “Dreamsnake” and “Left Hand of Darkness.”  I cared about the characters, loved the world she created, regretted the book had ended, and wanted to make everyone around me read it.   

I have to note that I’m grateful I was able to get someone else to read it.  Fortunately, Judi, my mother-in-law, read the book and happened to say, “I did not expect that ending.”  At first I thought I knew what she meant, but then I realized I must have missed something.  After a few minutes, I asked, “What did you mean you didn’t expect it?”  When she answered, it made the story even that much more amazing.  Of course, I won’t give the ending away in this review.  Suffice it to say I was a little thick, and it made me want to read the book again to see if I missed anything else.

I read this book for the Worlds Without End Women of Genre Fiction challenge.  It was my random pick, only having noticed it in the WWE home page random reads.  I had no idea what to expect.  The result is I have read another five star book.  I do not give out such a rating lightly.  If I think a book is great, I give it four.  I only give five if a book moves me in some profound way, or evokes a deep emotional response.  “Redemption in Indiogo" is one of these rare books.

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