Blue Magic is the second book in a duology by A.M. Dellamonica that began with Indigo Springs. I gave the first book three stars and while Blue Magic improves on book one in several ways, it also takes some steps back as well.
The first book introduces us to Astrid, who upon returning to her hometown of Indigo Springs discovered a powerful source of magic with which she can enchant objects and people. Her longtime friends Jacks (who loves her) and Sahara (whom Astrid loves, but Sahara’s true love is herself), and her mother become involved and after some argument over how to handle the magic, tragedy ensues for some and Astrid is locked up by the government. Blue Magic picks up shortly after and broadens the canvas to global (and beyond) impact, and involves literally world-shaking and world-changing events.
The characters in Indigo Springs were a mixed bag for me. I found Astrid the most interesting, but a bit too passive, and I can’t say I really cared overmuch what happened to her. Jacks was mostly a blank slate for me, a role to fill rather than a fully created character. And Sahara was just a bit too on the nose in terms of playing the villain. The side characters had little to endear them to me or set them apart. And the basic premise of the magic always seemed too strong to me, in the sense that I never shook the feeling that things could have turned out so much better and so much easier had they just “done this or this or that” with the magic, which seemed wholly possible.
This nagging feeling only worsened as we entered Blue Magic, which ratcheted up the conflict into a literal war among four factions: The U.S. army, which is terrorized by the magic that is now contaminating the world; Astrid’s group, which is bleeding the magic out of its source world and into our own (for reasons I’m not going into but that make perfect sense); Sahara’s group, which is more of a cult that worships Sahara as a goddess; and the Fyremen, a group who has over generations fought the “witches” that employ the magic fluid, known as vitagua. There are battles and raids and deaths, and I know we’re supposed to feel lots of suspense over how things will turn out and who will live and die, but that same feeling of “couldn’t they just… ” bled the book dry of most suspense for me. It’s certainly possible I just didn’t have a grip on how the magic worked or what they could do with it, but for whatever reason, the drama all seemed artificial to me. It didn’t help that we were reminded often of the fact that Astrid had seen certain futures, and while it’s made clear her visions often lack complete knowledge, they still lowered the tension level a bit.
Astrid comes much more alive in this book than the first, though my favorite character, and the one that I thought showed the most depth, was Will, who unlike many of the others is truly caught between sides and philosophies, making him automatically a more interesting character. Again, most of the side characters had little to make them stand out as particularly interesting or original and Sahara is once more just too cartoony a villain for me.
The plot was more episodic and felt a bit scattered and overly long, with some uneven pacing. The ending was an improvement on the ending of Indigo Springs, however, feeling less rushed and better prepared for.
I had a hard time staying engaged in Indigo Springs and the same held true for Blue Magic, which like the first I also put down and picked up multiple times. In the end, I liked the concept of the books more than the execution of the concept; the idea of the characters more than the characterization of the characters; the potential of the magic system rather than the actual use of the magic system as a plot device. I’d love to have seen what these books might have been like written in, say, another ten years when Dellamonica has several more novels under her belt. But as they are, I can’t really recommend them.
Indigo Springs — (2009-2012) Publisher: Indigo Springs is a sleepy town where things seem pretty normal… until Astrid’s father dies and she moves into his house. She discovers that for many years her father had been accessing the magic that flowed, literally, in a blue stream beneath the earth, leaking into his house. When she starts to use the liquid “vitagua” to enchant everyday items, the results seem innocent enough: a “’chanted” watch becomes a charm that means you’re always in the right place at the right time; a “’chanted” pendant enables the wearer to convince anyone of anything… But as events in Indigo Springs unfold and the true potential of vitagua is revealed, Astrid and her friends unwittingly embark on a journey fraught with power, change, and a future too devastating to contemplate. Friends become enemies and enemiesbecome friends as Astrid discovers secrets from her shrouded childhood that will lead her to a destiny stranger than she could have imagined…