Sponsored by [personal profile] tool_of_satan. Great rec, thank you!

And what of Paama herself? She said little about the husband she had left almost two years ago, barely enough to fend off the village gossips and deflect her sister’s sneers. She didn’t need to. There was something else about Paama that distracted people’s attention from any potentially juicy titbits of her past. She could cook.

An inadequate statement. Anyone can cook, but the true talent belongs to those who are capable of gently ensnaring with their delicacies, winning compliance with the mere suggestion that there might not be any goodies for a caller who persisted in prying. Such was Paama.

An adult fantasy novel loosely based on a folktale from Senegal. When a spirit called a djombi gives Paama a probability-altering Chaos Stick, a series of events spin out to change her life, the lives of her family, the lives of a great many innocent and not-so-innocent bystanders, and even the undying lives of several djombi.

I loved this book. LOVED it. The absolutely wonderful prose and the humor kept me reading with a huge smile on my face, and occasionally laughing aloud. I could pull quotes from every single page that would make people who enjoy this sort of thing rush out to buy it, though the funniest bits are best read in context. (The bit where a trickster spirit cleverly disguised as a very large talking spider has a deadpan conversation with two men in a bar was one of my very favorite scenes.) The very knowing and slightly defensive narrator cracked me up, and the more serious second half, while not quite as purely enjoyable as the first, is poignant and lovely.

If you enjoyed the elegantly mannered prose, metafictional commentary, and sly humor of Michael Chabon’s The Gentlemen of the Road or William Goldman’s The Princess Bride, you are almost certain to like Redemption in Indigo.

The plot falls apart for about twenty pages or so after Paama confronts the indigo-skinned djombi, but it picks up after that (so don’t give up.)

The ending was moving (which is not a code-word for “sad”), and very satisfying. I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that we get a touching psychological explanation for her ex-husband’s compulsive gluttony, so I’ll say so here for the benefit of anyone who might find the very beginning, which is based on a folktale about a man who gets in comic trouble by eating everything in sight, fat-phobic or anti-eating. I loved the way Lord preserved the non-realistic qualities of the original folktale, while the narrator invented realistic justification until it became impossible, and then resignedly advised the readers to just go with it.

Highly recommended. This is the kind of book where I feel constrained in reviewing lest I over-sell, but if you like this sort of thing at all, go out and get it.

Redemption in Indigo: a novel


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