Plot Summary: Astrid Lethewood grew up in Indigo Springs with the town flake for a father. When he dies and leaves Astrid a house, she moves in and invites her closest friends to live with her, never mind that Jacks and Sahara hate each other. When Astrid discovers a bag of ‘chantments,’ objects infused with magic abilities, she has this idea that the lure of the magic will keep Sahara and Jacks in her home and at peace. Ironically, all Astrid wants is stability and normalcy, but the magic can’t be used without consequences. This innocent beginning snowballs into a problem of epic proportions.I really dig stories about magic. What else can transform unwanted orphans and nerdy men and women into cool, supernatural butt-kickers? Magic is the ultimate cool tool in any fantasy story, so I sat down with Indigo Springs by A. M. Dellamonica with tingly anticipation. After I got a few chapters in, I began to realize that magic isn’t cool in this world. Oh no. It’s more like a monkey’s paw curse, and every good intention will slowly twist into a horrible nightmare because the magic here brings out the worst in the person wielding it. Oh yeah, and the magic has a mind of its own, and it wants to escape its prison in the ‘unreal.’
This is spooky stuff, and it’s extremely well done. Since this is a debut novel, and I’m not sure how to classify this story anyway, I popped over to the author’s website for a look. Ms. Dellamonica calls Indigo Springs an ‘ecofantasy,’ which I admit straight up is a new term to me, but it does shed some light on how this story unfolds. The ‘vitagua’ that carries the magic is a resource that is discovered, exploited, and mishandled by humans. It’s not a big stretch to see a parallel to how we’ve mucked up Earth’s environment.
The format was a perfect blend of flash-backs and flash-forwards. If a writer chooses this style, I have two requests; first, spend equal time in the past and the present so I’m not grasping at flimsy fragments, and two, do it in a consistent pattern so the time and place is easily apparent. In my opinion, Ms. Dellamonica does this perfectly, and the first chapter begins in the present with a sense that something has gone horribly wrong in the world. It sets the mood beautifully.
The love triangle between Astrid, Sahara, and Jacks is the kind that makes me want to poke myself in the eye with a sharp stick. Now, a lot of people would interpret that statement as negative, but that’d be a mistake. What I mean is that it’s so painfully realistic and hopeless that I’m sucked into a deep emotional bond with the characters when I’d prefer to maintain a little distance. No such luck. If you’re a Kim Harrison fan, and you follow her Hollows series, then you’ll know what I mean, because it features a similar convoluted triangle that has me tearing my hair in frustration while I read.
This is an unconventional fantasy for adventurous types, who like to get a little cerebral with a deeper, darker story. There is a sequel in the works called Blue Magic, which will appear sometime in 2010.
A.M. Dellamonica On the Web:
Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter
Doherty, Tom Associates, LLC
Published: October 2009
ISBN #: 9780765319470