Sequel to Indigo Springs (2009), where magic, driven into the "unreal" in the 17th century by witch-burning Fyremen, is returning, setting off power struggles and war.
In the unreal, magic (a blue substance called vitagua) is frozen into glaciers and as it melts it trickles back into our world. The process can be gradual or explosive. Astrid Lethewood, a "chanter" (she crafts magical objects using vitagua), fears chaos and violence and seeks a gradual course. There are dreadful complications, however. Former police negotiator Will Forest, once Astrid's interrogator, has joined Astrid as her backup. Astrid's old friend Sahara Knax, now brimming with vitagua, has made herself the center of a cult, the Alchemites, who worship Sahara as a goddess. Problem is, though the Alchemites think they're saving the environment, Sahara's only interested in power and will sacrifice anybody to keep it. After the Alchemites sink an aircraft carrier, the army captures Sahara but can only keep her confined with the help of Gilead Landon, the chief Fyreman, whose followers also maintain the curse that taints the vitagua as it gushes out. And Astrid's mother now calls herself Everett, having transformed into a man. Pressure continues to build; violence, once sporadic, increases; and the "grumbles," voices from—somewhere—that Astrid hears, predict Astrid's death, but also a happy ending. Previously charming and intimate, the narrative's now become a seething fireball of ideas, actions and plots, complicated by GBLT and environmental agendas and a cast of thousands. Undeniably, something changed when the story jumped from local to global, and readers must judge for themselves which approach they prefer.
Far from disappointing but not quite what the first volume seemed to promise.