I received this book from the publisher via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.
‘Along The Indigo’ by Elsie Chapman is a thought provoking beauty.
Synopsis: Marsden lives in a town called Glory. She lives with her younger sister in a whore house that fronts as a B&B. With their mother being one of the girls, Marsden has learnt to keep them away from the darkness of the future. To add to that bleak reality, the covert on their land is a place people go to die. To keep her sisters innocence, Marsden patrols the area everyday for bodies and any cash they carry. The money goes into their escape fund. But when a boy comes over with the intent to search the covert, Marsden’s life slowly turns on its head and her secrets threaten to spill.
Marsden was young, but extremely mature for her age. Not once did I actually think of her as a sixteen year old. I think her having to bring up/look after her younger sister was partly due to this as well as the covert itself. I liked her strength and her loyalty to family. I didn’t care that she was a skimmer. In my opinion, if someone wants to die on your property, they forfeit what they have on them. And if the money they leave behind goes towards the freedom of two people, why not take it? I felt strongly for Marsden. Her luck in life is poor but she doesn’t let it stop her from her goal. I was glad she got a happy ending.
Jude was sweet. His friends, his boss, and Rigby were the reason he didn’t have a completely sour outlook on life. I understood his anger and his guilt. I found their relationship completely real. At no point did I view it as forced or unbelievable. Wynn was a picture of pure innocence. Her one liners were hilarious sometimes but also deeply upsetting. Old enough to notice things but young enough not to understand. It was that awkward balance that gave me many feels. I found Shine a pathetic excuse for a mother. I could (sometimes) understand the reasons behind her choices but ultimately she made bad decisions and it didn’t look like she was ready to make up for them at all.
The book contains some mature themes. Prostitution and suicide being the main components. Both are spoken of in a way that implies regularity. Marsden has lived with both for the majority of her life but she understands that her level of indifference is perhaps not normal and she tries her best to protect Wynn from them. The prostitution aspect isn’t delved into very much, only mentioned in passing. As the book is from Marsden’s POV, she doesn’t actually see any sex and so I believe this is why there is no graphic content of this sort. The suicide aspect is a different matter. Marsden has never seen anyone take their own life but because she usually finds the bodies, she sees the ‘after’. As readers, so do we and this can be shocking. It’s not described in great detail but I think this makes it more chilling. Your imagination will always be worse.
Marsden’s story was written beautifully. It asked many questions about fate, what lies beyond death, forgiveness and what lengths you would go to for freedom. It tackles not only the themes mentioned above but also racism. At times I felt uncomfortable whilst reading but with many themes present and the amount of content, it was difficult to pinpoint exactly what was making me feel that way. It would be easier to say that the majority of the book was an unsettling read.
I can’t say I enjoyed the book; was I captivated? YES. Would I read it again? YES. Did I love it? YES. There were parts to the story that I enjoyed, I laughed and smiled at. The characters get a somewhat happy ending but I feel the book has a dark cloud over it. The cover for it is entirely fitting and adds to the atmosphere and aesthetic to the story. Read it yourself, come back here, and lets discuss.
“We speak now only in echoes, in traces of what once was – ash and dust and salt, from blood and bone and tears. And you hear us now because you’ve let us go.”
You can get it here