Reviewed by Rowena C. Ruiz
“ A rival of mine once complained that my stories begin awkwardly and end untidily. I am willing to admit to many faults, but I will not burden my conscience with that one. All my tales are true, drawn from life, and a life story is not a tidy thing. It is a half-tamed horse that you seize on the run and ride with knees and teeth clenched, and then you regretfully slip off as gently and safely as you can, always wondering if you could have gone a few metres more.” – Excerpt from Redemption in Indigo
Lord begins her novel with these words and takes on the role of a story teller. Her telling is straightforward, without hype, and yet as story unfolds, a clear picture of the characters emerge. From Ansige with his passion for food to the minor djombi who take part in this tale, they all come to life with the words that Karen uses. What’s more, she draws you into the story so that you can see for yourself the scenes unfolding. As I read the story, I found myself shaking my head over Ansige’s foolishness, rooting for Paama as she tries to deal with her encounter with a senior djombi, and hoping against hope that the Indigo Lord will not succeed in his quest to gain back his power. In a way, Lord reminds me of another writer who wrote his stories in a similar manner – Rudyard Kipling.
Another aspect of Lord’s writing is while she presents her characters quite clearly, she does not pass judgment on them. Instead she allows us to see them as they are and to draw our own conclusions. Thus we see that Ansige’s passion for food is his way of coping with insecurity, the Indigo Lord’s insensitivity is brought about by his disappointment in humans, and Paama’s desire to help is tempered not only by compassion but with the understanding that some things cannot be changed: that people must make their own choices and we can only help in so far as they allow us. We also learn people and their actions can affect others and that we each have a part in influencing the choices that they make.
I also liked the fact that Lord makes no bones that her story has a lesson to teach. Yet she does not preach or force the moral upon you. What she does point out is that there are things we can learn not only from reading but from the people and things around us. As she writes,
“Everything teaches, everyone preaches, all have a gospel to sell! Better the one who is honest and open in declaring an agenda than the one who fools you into believing that they are only spinning a pretty fancy for beauty’s sake.”
This is the first time I have read anything by Karen Lord and I really enjoyed it. Not only that, I had fun reading it. I definitely recommend that others read it and I am looking forward to reading her other books.
Rating: 5 charms.