Monday, March 5, 2012

Review - Redemption in Indigo by Karen Lord

Redemption in IndigoRedemption in Indigo
by Karen Lord

Paperback200 pages
Published August 1st 2010 by Small Beer Press 
UK Edition (below) Avail March 1st

Premise: Ganked from Goodreads:
Karen Lord’s debut novel is an intricately woven tale of adventure, magic, and the power of the human spirit. Paama’s husband is a fool and a glutton. Bad enough that he followed her to her parents’ home in the village of Makendha—now he’s disgraced himself by murdering livestock and stealing corn. When Paama leaves him for good, she attracts the attention of the undying ones—the djombi— who present her with a gift: the Chaos Stick, which allows her to manipulate the subtle forces of the world. Unfortunately, a wrathful djombi with indigo skin believes this power should be his and his alone.  
Bursting with humor and rich in fantastic detail, Redemption in Indigo is a clever, contemporary fairy tale that introduces readers to a dynamic new voice in Caribbean literature. Lord’s world of spider tricksters and indigo immortals is inspired in part by a Senegalese folk tale—but Paama’s adventures are fresh, surprising, and utterly original.  
“This is one of those literary works of which it can be said that not a word should be changed.”—Booklist, starred review
My Review:

Um... wow?  This book is unique. The flavor is exotic. To read this book felt like climbing out of my culture and into the mind of another one, where I felt immediately comfortable, which is just... wow!

The hero in this book is not Paama, although she is the central figure. For me, the person I felt attached to, even suddenly best friends with, is the narrator. The narrator takes monumental things, like what and who djombi's are, for commonplace, while skillfully explaining them so that I feel like I knew what they were all along, too. Which feel like genius to read - both exotic and comforting at the same time. Which feels both weird and ok... at the same time. (Which is just... what?!)

And then, the narrator is funny. There are these hints of opinion regarding the actions taken through-out the story, constantly flavoring the story and my opinion of the players. I am not disgusted with Paama's gluttonous husband, rather I feel sorry for him because Paama does and the narrator respects Paama. Although the dreadful former owner of the chaos stick is extremely powerful, I'm not frightened of him because ultimately the narrator isn't, knowing that Patience will come along and be more powerful, still. I don't know what's coming, but the narrator obvoiusly does. By the end I feel like I would travel large distances for the privilege of hearing this narrator share another story!!

UK cover, Redemption in IndigoNow for some SPOILER fun!!

This story takes place when traveling with horses and donkeys is fashionable, and what Paama's husband is unable to do, Chance does, riding into the small village in state, setting up his fancy moveable home. A part that really cracked me up was how the poet fell in love with the girl he was helping to woo for the powerful lord, uh, Chance. But then this Poet was really someone I knew by reputation, only I had heard his story differently.

I had?!  I knew that?!  
"...but I am hearing some rumblings from my audience. You are distressed that I have spoiled the moving and romantic tale of how Love's Laureate courted his beautiful wife? You complain that I have turned it into a cobbled pastiche of happenstance, expediency, and the capricious tricks of the djombi? I bleed for your injured sentiments, but to dress the tale in vestments of saga and chivalry was never my intent. A sober reading of history will teach you that both lesser and greater persons have been treated more roughly by fate. Be content. If it was only a djombi's vanity and aversion to human company that caused Alton to become a merchant prince for one night, if it was fear of discovery and capture that made that djombi flee, thus settling a lordly mantle on Alton for all time, how does that come to be my fault? I am only the one who tells the story."
Oh. Well. Alright then. My bad.

See what I mean?!

I would never guess that I'd love a book so much that is narrated.  You know?  But I love this book. Every character has depth and strengths and flaws. This book is jamb-packed with emotion. For me, it's the sort of book that I can't read quickly, making the 200 page count very deceptive. Every other paragraph, I'm pausing, staring out the window, chuckling over something or wondering if I'm going to burst into tears or just plain thinking.

Like, is Patience really that powerful?!  Huh.

My Rating: 5 - Love It!!

I will probably reread this book. It will haunt me forever, tickling my memory with experiences and histories I know from somewhere.

PreviewOnce again, how happy am I to take part with Calico Reaction's Theme Park Book Club?!  I wouldn't have known this treasure of a book was hiding under this calm cover.  So, Thanks, Shara, for adding it to the vote and thanks, everyone for choosing it!! That was a wild ride!!

To quote a little of Calico Reaction's review:
It has it's own organic logic, nothing that I can dissect to show you how it works, but when you read it on the page, it does, and it sounds so fascinating!

Shara, I'm not sure about the Trickster being reborn, too, although he did keep popping up in odd places. And the narrator did seem to assume we knew Chance had been reborn before I was certain. (I was looking for him somewhere, but time, you know, is flexible in such instances and I wasn't sure that Kwame wasn't him, maybe, completely changed. I thought it perfect to see him as a child, though... very satisfactory!!!!) I kinda needed the epilogue to be sure, so maybe an epilogue to the epilogue to clarify where the Trickster next showed up would be nice. I want to believe they had their own child and one djombi to raise, and that's more than any human should ever have to!!  Love your review.

Happily for me, this book also falls under the Award-Winning Challenge hosted by Gathering Books.

About the Amazing Author:
Karen Lord
Karen Lord won the Frank Collymore Literary Award for 2008 with the manuscript of the fantasy novel Redemption in Indigo and again for 2009 with the science fiction manuscript The Best of All Possible Worlds 
Redemption in Indigo, which was published in July 2010 by Small Beer Press, won the 2011 William L. Crawford Award and the 2011 Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature. It was also longlisted for the 2011 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature and nominated for the 2011 World Fantasy Award (Novel)
My new official photo, by Russell Watson.
(He’s brilliant – a photographer, an artist and a filmmaker. This is his movie:
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