Indigo Springs is the first novel by established and accomplished short story writer A.M Dellamonica. In the house she inherited from her father, Astrid finds a cache of enchanted objects and a vial of viscous blue fluid called vitagua or “spirit water.” Along with her stepbrother Jacks and her best friend Sahara, Astrid soon realizes that she is a protector of the blue liquid, and that the house is built over a well of it, a portal to a magical universe. She is of a long line of well-tappers or guardians. Astrid must master the use of vitagua, fight off external enemies and deal with the shocking changes vitagua makes in her friends, as well as learn vital lessons about responsibility and power if she, and the world as we know it, is to survive.
The dialogue alone in this book reassures us that we are in the hands of a pro. Two things stand out: the descriptions of the “spirit water” and the depiction of the three main characters. Astrid, Jacks and Sahara are vividly realized and interact like real people, even if we don’t have physical descriptions of them. Their history, strengths and flaws are revealed in a convincing manner.
Dellamonica’s use of a “frame” story and narrative flashbacks to create a how-did-we-get-here sense of urgency is not completely successful, at times throwing off the pacing and turning a potentially strong ending into a mere sequel set-up. Overall, though, this is a different approach to fantasy, and a suspenseful, compelling read with characters I care about. I certainly will seek out the second book when it is published in the spring. As a bonus, Indigo Springs has an exquisite and intriguing cover.