Mini-review: “Redemption in Indigo” by Karen Lord

redemptioninindigoRedemption in Indigo is a short novel inspired by African folklore. Paama has left her foolish and gluttonous husband, Ansige, and refuses to return to him. When he tries to win her back and instead makes a complete fool of himself, the djombi (spirits/gods) are so impressed with the way she handles the situation that they give her a gift of great power. But the djombi that it was taken from, the Indigo Lord wants it back, and badly.

I love the narrative style of this book – it takes the folktale inspiration and runs with it, it’s just like a storyteller was sitting in the room with you and telling you a story. We meander back and forth in time and point of view, and the narrator is quite opinionated at times. Paama is a terrific heroine, she’s calm, kind, and intuitively knows that the best thing to do with power is not use it. She’s also pragmatic – when the djombi threatens her family and asks her to give him the stick, she immediately hands it over. Of course, things aren’t that simple, since she actually has to believe that he’s the better person to wield it, and that’s the titular “redemption” of the story.

On the surface this story seems really simple, but there are a lot of layers and side plots – Anansi’s troubles with tricking people (yes, Anansi’s in this book!), Paama’s self-centered sister and her search for an eligible husband, the extremely competent House of Sisters that help Paama out. There’s not a lot of time spent of these, but they’re full of heart and the author’s deft characterization makes the characters seem like people you know pretty well.

Redemption in Indigo is very different from the other Karen Lord book I’ve read, The Best of All Possible Worlds, but it’s just as warm and well-told.

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