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Redemption in Indigo: a novel [Kindle Edition]

Karen Lord
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)

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Book Description

"The impish love child of Tutuola and Marquez. Utterly delightful."--Nalo Hopkinson

Karen Lord's debut novel, which won the prestigious Frank Collymore Literary Prize in Barbados, 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, inspired in part by a Senegalese folk tale, will feel instantly familiar--but Paama's adventures are fresh, surprising, and utterly original.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Lord's debut, a retelling of a Senegalese folktale, packs a great deal of subtly alluring storytelling into this small package. Paama flees her gluttonous husband, Ansige; two years later, he hires the master tracker Kwame to find her. Kwame reluctantly takes the job to finance his own wanderlust. These events draw the attention of the Indigo Lord, one of the powerful spirits called Djombi. He wielded the power of Chaos until it was taken from him and given to Paama, and he wants it back. An unnamed narrator, sometimes serious and often mischievous, spins delicate but powerful descriptions of locations, emotions, and the protagonists' great flaws and great strengths as they interact with family, poets, tricksters, sufferers of tragedy, and—of course—occasional moments of pure chaos. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Lord is Barbadian, and her first novel retells a Senegalese legend, setting it in a world not unlike the village West Africa of Ousmane Sembène's films. In it, humans and the undying spirits of such qualities as patience and chance as well as of tricksters, great (a spider, of course) and lesser, interact. In little Makende, Paama, who is a great cook, has returned to her family after 10 years of marriage to the gluttonous Ansige. To chastise Chance, Patience has seized the Chaos Stick, which can alter human disasters if seldom dispel them, and decided to give it to Paama. Chance's elaborate efforts to induce Paama to give it back to him constitute the principal strain of the plot, from which the narrator diverges in every other chapter to account for other characters who impinge on the main action. A great deal happens in the novel's relatively short course, but confusion is minimal because Lord has found the ideal voice for the narrator—feminine yet authoritative, amusing yet soothing, omniscient yet humble. This is one of those literary works of which it can be said that not a word should be changed. --Ray Olson

Product Details

  • File Size: 1208 KB
  • Print Length: 188 pages
  • Publisher: Small Beer Press (July 6, 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003WJ0736
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #248,288 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Chaos Lord Goes to School October 1, 2010
By Nathan
What a wonderful novel this is! It is utterly enchanting from beginning to end, truly a pleasure to read. Both editorial reviews mention that this book is a retelling of a folktale, which is wrong. The first few chapters retell the tale of our heroine Paama, yes, but after that Paama's adventures are of the author's invention. And what invention! A surprising array of delightful characters, human and otherwise, make appearances in this deceptively slim novel, but really this is Paama's story. Paama is not THE chosen one of destiny, on a quest to do a deed, but rather A chosen one, still free to make her own choices, on a quest to try to learn which choice to make. This is a fantasy not about being a winner, but about living your life, living well in the face of adversity. As such, for all its antic moments, this slight novel is in the end much more satisfying than any number of the sort of relentlessly grim, heavy, often cynical fantasies that are so popular these days. And all the book's adventures, the whimsical and the weighty, are perfectly related by the narrator, a masterfully digressive and captivating storyteller (although I did not get the "feminine yet authoritative," whatever that means, mentioned in a review above). This is a charming novel that inspired more laughs and smiles than anything else I've read in some time, yet also had enough substance that it was more than a mere amusette. Highly recommended.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Promising but doesn't deliver March 10, 2011
It's hard to go up against two starred reviews from twp prestigious review journals, plus a perfect five from everyone else. But I'm trying to be honest here.

I loved the first several chapters. For me, the story began to unravel somewhere in the middle. For one thing, the use of magic seemed excessive and injudicious. The magical characters (djombis) flit through time and space, foretell the future, erase the memories of those they encounter, conjure great wealth, disguise themselves as animals and insects, shape shift, etc. etc. When characters can do just about anything, I stop taking them seriously. One of these characters confesses that he can't "read minds." Yet, he does everything else. Shortly thereafter this same character tells in great detail what's going to become of a certain little boy. With these kinds of powers, it hardly matters if he can't read minds. The future's already known.

There's no real conflict in this story, partly because the magical characters are so overwhelming but also because it's hard to tell what some of the characters really want. We're told over and over what an extraordinary woman Paama is, but I wasn't feeling it. Certain plot elements are introduced, but not developed: the brooch, the dreaming pillow, the Sisters, even the chaos stick which is only used once. We never really get to see what it can do.

Yet the voice of the narrator is charming and the humor, at times, is delightful. And there's a compassionate spirit that permeates the book. But overall, for me, a frustrating read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quietly awesome December 21, 2011
I love small conventions because I always end up with new additions to my list of things I really want to read. This was one of the books I picked up as a direct result.

Redemption in Indigo is about a woman named Paama who hasn't had a particularly pleasant few years. A few of the djombi (big and little spirits of varying disposition) decide to entrust a very special item to her. Another one of the djombi, the Indigo Lord, wants it back.

I really loved the style of prose. The narrator's occasional asides to the reader gave me the feeling that this story should be read out loud. The rhythm of the phrases had and almost musical quality to them and the way the narrative smoothly moved from one character to the next made me want to just cuddle up with a bunch of other people and pass the book around to read it aloud (something I may in fact try later).

I liked Paama. I thought that she was mostly patient, quietly determined and best of all, knew where her limits were and when to put her foot down. I also appreciated that she didn't really want super powers and didn't forget that she had a support network in the people in her life who cared about her. I loved how it ended for her.

Also interesting was the assertion that the djombi could and would change over time. All too frequently the supernatural characters are portrayed as unchanging, timeless and static. Until some mortal love interest comes along and "changes" things around for the "better" (yechh). I liked the variation across the tricksters especially. Some jobs were clearly considered better than others and at least one of them actually enjoyed making those pranks benefit their victims. The evolution of the Indigo Lord is especially highlighted in that the nature of one's redemption is often a product of not only what one did (or didn't do) but also a result of from whom that redemption is sought.

I really enjoyed this book and would gladly recommend it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best of Audible SFF, June 2011 August 16, 2011
Format:Audible Audio Edition
Published by Small Beer Press in July 2010 and on several year's best fantasy lists, Karen Lord's Redemption in Indigo finally arrived at Audible on June 15, courtesy of a Recorded Books production, narrated by Robin Miles. Miles has 56 Audible titles to her credit, but this was my first, though her 2010 narration of Ekaterina Sedia's The House of Discarded Dreams is waiting for me on my wish list for one of these days. Redemption in Indigo is a short listen at a shade under six and a half hours, and it's well worth discovering. The overall arc of the story comes under the frame of a storyteller relating the events, complete with asides (such as "we'll learn more about this later") and informalities (such as "let us skip forward through time a bit so as to miss the boring parts") and footnotes and digressions. The story comes across in a playful, light way, the way of an elder telling a favorite story around a village campfire. This is a wonderful change of pace not just from the battlefields and seriousness of much of the rest of fantasy these days, but also in its leisurely pace, delighting on simple surroundings imbued with the mythological references which have been passed down through the generations. As a work of oral storytelling goes, this one's a keeper, and I'm glad I was able to enjoy it in this format.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
wonderful story! Ms Lord is a master with words.
Highest recommendation
Published 2 months ago by A. Sharp
5.0 out of 5 stars Lord has a wonderfully rounded vernacular that she uses to weave a...
What a phenomenon this book was! A highly unexpected turn of events and themes after a somewhat familiar beginning. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars What a story!
Easy reading, great story, well writen, good plot. So this is a marvelous novel. I had a feeling that a sit somewhere middle of the market and was listening the local storyteller
Published 6 months ago by Eeva-Liisa Tenhunen
5.0 out of 5 stars Unusual narrative voice works well
I read fantasy and science fiction, in part, to expose my mind to new perspectives, to the situations of people with very different backgrounds to my own, who nevertheless have a... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Mike Reeves-McMillan
5.0 out of 5 stars AMAZING!!
this is such a cool perspective, such a unique story that you must read it! I will look for more books from this author.
Published 12 months ago by Monica Sutter
4.0 out of 5 stars A modern fairy tale
In my search for fantasy novel with black protagonists, I stumbled across this gem and I loved it! The best part is that it has a fairy tale aspect to the way that it is narrated... Read more
Published 17 months ago by Kindle Customer
1.0 out of 5 stars Plowed through hoping it woould get better
The only reason I purchased this book was that I was listening to a book review about Karen Lord's latest book - which was NOT available through Amazon, so I downloaded her only... Read more
Published 18 months ago by sashscott
4.0 out of 5 stars Review - Redemption in Indigo
One might be forgiven to wonder what the God of Chaos and a mild mannered, loyal but escaped bride could gain from time spent with the other, but Karen Lord masterfully interweaves... Read more
Published 18 months ago by ScrivK
3.0 out of 5 stars A fairy Tale for adults or is it science fiction?
I have never been good at reading fairy tales whether they be those written by Hermann Hesse or this one by Karen Lord. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Cornelia(CONNIE) MacErlean author of "Baggage"
5.0 out of 5 stars It's good to be good
This is a lovely read. Magical realism may be my favorite modality. I like to read books with heroines who have compassion for the other characters. Read more
Published on November 27, 2012 by S. I. Smith
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More About the Author

Karen Lord has been a physics teacher, a diplomat, a part-time soldier and an academic at various times and in various countries. She is now a writer and research consultant in Barbados. Her debut novel Redemption in Indigo won the 2008 Frank Collymore Literary Award, the 2011 William L. Crawford Award and the 2011 Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature, and was nominated for the 2011 World Fantasy Award for Best Novel.

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Topic From this Discussion
Age appropriate?
It's age appropriate. Booklist recommended it for young adults, and I don't think the content or vocabulary will be difficult for tweens.
Dec 21, 2011 by K. Lord |  See all 2 posts
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