Indigo Springs by A.M. Dellamonica
Publisher: Tor/Nov. 2010
Indigo Springs is a sleepy town where things seem pretty normal . . . until Astrid’s father dies and she moves into his house. She discovers that for many years her father had been accessing the magic that flowed, literally, in a blue stream beneath the earth, leaking into his house. When she starts to use the liquid “vitagua” to enchant everyday items, the results seem innocent enough: a “’chanted” watch becomes a charm that means you’re always in the right place at the right time; a “’chanted” pendant enables the wearer to convince anyone of anything . . .
But as events in Indigo Springs unfold and the true potential of vitagua is revealed, Astrid and her friends unwittingly embark on a journey fraught with power, change, and a future too devastating to contemplate. Friends become enemies and enemies become friends as Astrid discovers secrets from her shrouded childhood that will lead her to a destiny stranger than she could have imagined . . .
Indigo Springs, small town and host to a river of magic that flows under the house left to Astrid Lethewood after her father dies, is the setting for most of this intriguing and odd fantasy. Astrid, her step brother Jacks, and best friend Sahara all move into the house, creating a tense threesome that sets the stage for the complex relationship between the three, and a powder keg for the sparks that are inevitable when the “magic” is discovered, or in Astrid’s case, “rediscovered.” A sense of the eerie is conveyed early on, and you get a big taste of what’s to come, since the book starts out with Astrid being kept in an underground bunker as Sahara and her newly discovered cult run rampant, leaving death and destruction in their wake. Will Forest is the hostage negotiator sent to get the full story as to how this terror started from the nearly mad Astrid, so, immediately, I needed to find out what was going on. The author sets the stage perfectly, and the transitions between Will’s first person chapters, to the third person chapters that tell the story of how this all started, will have you turning the pages pretty quickly.
Astrid is not your usual fantasy heroine. In fact, her near constant uncertainty and desperation to keep the enigmatic and selfish Sahara around will leave you wanting to grab her by the shoulders and shake her. Sahara isn’t your typical “villain” either. Her progression from rather manipulative, selfish, friend to Astrid to magic addicted cult leader is scary to watch, but her transition is not all that surprising, given the events leading up to the “flood”. You see, vitagua, a blue, viscous substance flows under the house, and is the source of pure magic. In the right hands, it can be a source for good, but in the wrong hands, well, you know where this is going, right?
Astrid is startled to discover that she has the ability to control vitagua, and absorb it into her body in order to imbue items that have “sparkle” with power. It’s pretty obvious from the get go that Sahara wants this power also, and she’ll do just about anything to get it, but Astrid’s destiny is not hers. You may think that Jacks was just thrown in to provide some tension between the friends, but he’s much more than what he seems at first. I really liked how, when the revelations come, you can immediately see all the clues that led up to it, but some are pretty subtle. Indigo Springs is a wonder of a read, and I loved how the author wove contemporary and traditional fantasy elements together to create what was, for me, an entirely original experience full of magic, family secrets, and a small town caught in the grip of a magical infestation with the power to destroy humanity. Ms. Dellamonica’s writing flows much like the river of magic she writes about, full of promise, lush, sometimes yearning, always suspenseful. I found I wanted to know much more about Will Forest, and wanted to see good things happen for Astrid, too. I can’t wait to see where the author takes us in the next book, Blue Magic!