Book Review: ALONG THE INDIGO By Elsie Chapman

Elsie Chapman’s new novel has Marsden finding bodies and gloom Along the Indigo.

Marsden is used to being the protector. She wants her little sister, Wynn, to stay innocent for as long as possible. It’s a tough job. Their mother is a prostitute. Their home (well, the hotel/brothel they live in and work at thanks to the owner) sits on land that is a popular suicide destination. If Mars could get just a couple thousand dollars saved up from her meager cook’s (and definitely nothing more) salary and from “skimming” (that is, taking cash off the corpses before the police get to them), she and Wynn could run away and maybe lead a regular life.

Such a straightforward plan takes a turn when Jude, a boy from Marsden’s school, shows up on the land. Mars recognizes him, but they’re not friendly–just classmates. Jude’s brother killed himself not long ago on Marsden’s land, and she has a burning secret about his death that she simply cannot tell Jude. After getting Marsden’s (reluctant) permission to look around her property (under her watchful eye, of course), Jude is on a mission to find a time capsule his brother left behind. 

After getting nearly halfway (200 pages!) through Along the Indigo, I was still waiting on some sort of definitive plot. How much background information and set-up did the reader really need? We visit Mars’ days over and over again with little to show for it. Nothing of import seemed to be happening. To say I grew frustrated is an understatement. 

Chapman’s writing style stood out to me immediately. She painted vivid imagery and wrote eloquently. Her expressions were beautiful…at least for a while. After more than 100 pages with little advance, even her words began to dim in their appeal. I thought Jude’s introduction would be the green light to move forward, but nothing seemed to be on the horizon. I found no reason to continue reading this book. Four hundred pages for a repetitive narrative wasn’t worth it.

RATING: 2.5 OUT OF 5 STARS

Find out if Along the Indigo is better suited for you. It hits shelves on March 20th, but you can pre-order now via Amazon.

The town of Glory is famous for two things: businesses that front for seedy, if not illegal, enterprises and the suicides that happen along the Indigo River. Marsden is desperate to escape the “bed-and-breakfast” where her mother works as a prostitute—and where her own fate has been decided—and she wants to give her little sister a better life. But escape means money, which leads Mars to skimming the bodies that show up along the Indigo River. It’s there that she runs into Jude, who has secrets of his own and whose brother’s suicide may be linked to Mars’s own sordid family history. As they grow closer, the two unearth secrets that could allow them to move forward . . . or chain them to the Indigo forever.

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20-something. TV addict. Reader. Writer.

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