Redemption in Indigo by Karen Lord. ★★★1/2
Redemption in Indigo is undeniably fantastical, but it more closely resembles a fairy tale or fable than your usual fantasy novel. Based upon a Senegalese folktale, Redemption in Indigo is the wryly humorous account of Paama, a mortal woman who attracts the attention of the djombi, who gift her with the Chaos Stick. However, the original owner of the Chaos Stick is unhappy with this change in ownership.
“All my tales are true, drawn from life, and a life story is not a tidy thing.”
My favorite thing about Redemption in Indigo was the focus on storytelling and the narrative voice. The unnamed narrator speaks in first person, sometimes addressing the reader directly, mimicking the feel and tradition of oral storytelling. What really makes this work is the subtle humor that shines through the narrator’s voice.
“You must never tell people their own stories. They have no interest in them, or they think they can tell them better themselves. Give them a stranger’s life, and then they’re content.”
Redemption in Indigo isn’t fast paced or packed with action. Instead, it’s a comfortable book. There’s a sense of warmth to it, and wisdom as well. And despite the occasional mentions of modern conveniences, Redemption in Indigo has a sense of timelessness to it.
I also liked Paama as a heroine. She’s brave, hard working, and resilient, and she triumphs more due to her determination and strong moral center than to any more typical means. Throughout the story, she’s shown the petty sides of humanity, often embodied in her lazy and gluttonous husband, but she continues to believe in the good in people.
Redemption in Indigo is a very different sort of fantasy story, but it is one well worth reading.