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A. M. Dellamonica: Indigo Springs

I did promise something on Indigo Springs.

Book cover is generic fantasy, by which I mean it's a dun-coloured construction, with a woman (half her face showing) cupping a dish of something.

cover image of Indigo Springs, a woman cupping a small bowl

Here's the blurb:

When small-time criminal Albert Lethewood is murdered, he leaves his daughter Astrid a house in the town of Indigo Springs. Suspecting a scam, she nevertheless moves into the house with two friends. There they discover several mystical objects, including a penknife capable of terrible–perhaps limitless–destruction.

Soon it is obvious the old house is a cover for a wellspring of magical energy, and that Albert Lethewood had a secret life as the wellspring’s keeper. It falls to Astrid and her friends: dependable, heroic Jacks Glade and volatile Sahara Knax, to puzzle out the nature and purpose of the magical well.

But Albert’s killer is still out there. Worse, the mystical power is deeply seductive. . . and Sahara might be willing to risk everything, even Astrid herself, for control of the well.

Astrid inherit her deadbeat father's house when he dies. She discovers, however, that he's left behind a sac of belongings, ragtag and old, but seem to be magical. The kalediscope can see through walls. A pencil sharpener makes gold flakes. A rough penknife crumbles anything into dust.

It's all tangled up in the past and present; in the present, the thread follows a man named Will, living in a post-apocalyptic world, trying to reason with Astrid. The world is seized up with the overflow of magic: the U.S. is frantically trying to control contamination of it. Astrid's former best friend, Sahara, is leading a cult called the Alchemists, who are apparently controlling the supernatural acts - huge forests sprouting out of control, people turning into half-human, half-animals. Sahara herself seems to be able to do miraculous things like curing the sick.

Back to the past, Astrid is discovering that her father, whom the entire town had thought a wastrel, was actually creating magical artifacts - called chantments - and sending them away. Astrid discovers this knowledge in fits and starts. When they pull up the fireplace to find a dripping leak, they're hit by a blast of blue fluid - vitagua, from which magic issues. Slowly, she's discovering memories of her and her father: that he's a guardian of the blue spring. The book flips between past and present - Astrid herself is often confused about what time it is and what's happened (she refers to the day Will arrives as "Will day"; the significance of this isn't revealed til the end) - and also between the world of the ordinary, and the unreal which contains magic.

So I finished this book at three a.m., and by the end of it, I felt like the world had shifted, just a little. (The haze after a good book, you know? Is this real - or is there something I didn't see before, and this is actually the real?*) That perception that things might not be quite as they were before - it is very much an apocalyptic sort of book, but since one half (the past) is grounded solidly in normal reality, the change that happens to the future is a shock. Sahara and her cult is creating havoc, causing earthquakes and standoffs with the police. Will is, in fact, a policeman come to talk to Astrid to try to figure out how to get Sahara captured, because of the problems she's causing; the government has resorted to using napalm to blast the infected areas, for example. Through the past, you see how Astrid tries to cope with Sahara's increasing tendency to manipulate people (she takes Astrid's father's chantment she calls "Siren", a necklace that forces anyone to do exactly as she says, for example), the slow realization of her father's redemption, and most of all, the vitagua itself. In the "present" with Will, the fluid roils and bubbles under her skin; it has a voice of its own and gives her suggestions and knowledge - as far as the "grumbles" want her to know, anyway.

It's also nice to see that both Astrid and Sahara are bi (Sahara's ex gets, ah, turned into a salamander) instead of being default straight. I think the part that really clinches the book is the very end, where everything gets tied together; the past merges into the present and the forethoughts that Astrid has become reality. It's also open ended; the author is writing a sequel!

*also known as: Why silver doesn't read horror novels.

Crosspost: http://silverflight8.dreamwidth.org/104665.html.



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