An unconventional fantasy book. This is the last book I read last year.
It’s a Women of Fantasy book club book.

Publication year: 2009
Format: print
Page count: 334
Publisher: TOR

I thought this is a stand alone fantasy book but it’s apparently first in a series; the sequel should come out this year.

Indigo Springs is set, mostly, in a small town in US called Indigo Springs. The book has a rather unconventional structure. The book starts with a first person narrator, Will, and is written in present tense. However, the next chapter is set in the past with a third person narrator, Astrid, and written in the past tense. The chapters alternate although there are often two or three past chapters in a row.

The book puts the reader right in the middle of things and lets the reader figure things out. Will Forest is a hostage negotiator and interviews Astrid Lethewood, who is believed to be responsible for introducing lethal magics to the world. Astrid is being held in a bunker by the US government, and charged with murder and kidnapping. She seems to be able to see the future and is not always clear on when in time she is. Patience is another woman with access to magic; she can change her appearance and also change herself to mist, and leave the bunker whenever she wants. She’s Astrid’s companion but doesn’t seem to be charged with anything. Astrid agrees to talk with Will because he has brought her some magical supplies. She tells him how everything started; how magic came to the world and changed a lot of things into a nightmare. That story is told in the past chapters.

Sahara Knax is another woman with access to magic and she has been able to get a lot of supporters, including Will’s wife and kids. Sahara is claiming to be responsible for many of the environmental crisis which seem to be happening all over the world. Sahara and Astrid are best friends so the government is trying to use Astrid as a hostage against Sahara.

It all began when Astrid, Jacks, and Sahara moved into the house which Astrid’s father Albert left for her when he died. Jacks, Jackson, is the son of Olive whom Astrid’s father married after he divorced Astrid’s mother Ev. Sahara had just found out that boyfriend has cheated on her and dumped him, taking his car. Astrid has loved Sahara for years so she offered her a place to stay, and is secretly hoping that she won’t leave again.

While sorting out her father’s things, Astrid finds a few knick knacks which turn out to be magical. Soon, she finds out that house has bigger secrets, too.

The cast of characters is delightful. Astrid is a rather serious young woman who just wants to be loved. Because her father spent a lot of money and couldn’t be counted on to work, Astrid had to take over his gardening business and she’s still making a living with it. She loves plants and gardening. She’s also desperate to keep the people she loves in her life. She’s very responsible and altruistic, wanting to help people with the magic she discovers. However, she doesn’t want others to know that in the present.

Her quirky mother Ev went bonkers when Astrid’s father died. Ev is the local mailman and she loves a mystery book series about a crime solving mailman. When Albert died a year ago, Ev became convinced that he was murdered and took the persona of the mystery solving mailman – including the main character’s maleness. Astrid has to call her “Pop” and Ev calls Astrid “son” because the fictional mailman has a boy as a sidekick. That what both hilarious and very sad.

Sahara turns out to be rather selfish person. She has hinted at Astrid that they might be together, but then she left town with a new boyfriend. She’s not very happy at such a small town. She’s very sociable and quickly gathers up her old circle of friends. She’s bored easily and is really angry towards her cheating ex.

Jacks is a vegetarian and desperately avoiding his father who is the local Fire Chief. His mother Olive and Astrid’s father Albert seem to have been married for just a few years and Astrid was already 18 when they married. Jacks’ father is determined that Jacks will follow in his footsteps as a fireman. While Jacks is rather heroic person, he has no interest in a fireman’s career; he wants to be an artist.

In contrast, Will, the narrator of the chapters set in the present, pales. He’s gone through traumatic experiences, when his wife left and effectively kidnapped their kids, but I never felt that I actually knew him as well as the three characters above. Will is an old friend of Roche, the commander of the station which is holding Astrid. All of the characters were very human, with their own agendas.

The magic is very interesting. I don’t think I’ve seen anything really similar. Most of it is through magic items, or chantements. Only a chanter can create chantements but it seems that anyone can use them. There’s also the compilation of magic which flows like blue water and is called vitagua. Here, magic is dangerous and using it will have consequences both from the magic and the people who want to destroy all witches. There’s also a scientific reason behind magic. Magic has rules and bad things happen when people try to go around them. However, I was less convinced about the so-called enemy. How could they even know about magic, let alone track it?

Unlike in most books, here mixing magic with modern people is disastrous. Many see it as a way to get more power to themselves and some are just caught in the events. Magic also affects nature and the environment.

I really enjoyed this book. The pacing is excellent once you get used to the back and fourth between present and past. It doesn’t end in a cliffhanger but the story clearly needs a sequel.