Book Review: Haven’s Indigo
Reviewed by Steph Huddleston
This middle grade fantasy adventure impresses with imaginative worldbuilding and its engaging cast of characters.
Haven’s Indigo combines elements of mystery and quest-based action-adventure stories to engage and delight younger readers. The story follows Haven and her band of fellow outcasts as they scavenge and fight to survive on the outskirts of an apocalyptic city.
When their trash foraging results in Haven discovering an indigo colored ring, strange things begin to occur. Swept into another world populated by a host of magical creatures, Haven finds both the ring and herself suddenly with a larger purpose.
But when the ring begins threatening their new home, Haven must figure out what is happening and who is behind the disappearances before the city turns against her for good.
Sarah Byrd has created a beautiful world with Haven’s Indigo, filled with creatures like giants, fairies, mermaids, and other magical beings. What could be fairly standard fantasy worldbuilding is given fresh subversions of readers’ and characters’ expectations. Fairies wear pinstriped suits and are authoritative in their manner, and giants (usually depicted in fiction as unintelligent oafs) are geniuses—responsible for technology throughout the world. Highly entertaining, the world is fun and engaging for readers of all ages.
As Haven navigates the world, she discovers that she is able to control time. But rather than the story moving in an expected direction of having the character journey through history, this power is used to help others on a day-to-day scale. Haven is trained by other time servers to help humanity within the space of a second, intervening in the moments that can result in disaster. Whether it’s preventing a rollercoaster accident or saving someone’s nachos from falling on the ground, Haven is established as a kind character, even as she wrestles with her own self-worth. This aspect of the plot will be a fan favorite as it feels unexplored in much of juvenile fiction.
Haven is an enjoyable character and her arc is thoughtful and multifaceted. There are plenty of aspects of her that will appeal to younger readers, whether the exploration of her tragic past, her connection with her found family, or the complexities of romantic love thanks to a love triangle between Haven, her friend Jarius, and newcomer Asher. Each of the themes is pitched appropriately for young readers and dispersed throughout an action-packed plot. Overall, the strong sense of justice, desire for love, and belonging that Haven embodies throughout the book makes her a character young readers will quickly attach to.
“’What if I don’t have a choice?’ Haven asked, glancing around the room. Even if she had a purpose, that old familiar fear of losing those she loved crept back in. ‘I don’t want to lose any of you.’
“‘You always have a choice,’ said Charity. ‘Lose us or not, we are here because we believe that you are the right choice. You have the strength not to give in.’”
Where the story may fall a little short is due to its occasional lack of clarity and too fast pacing. There are times where the rapid introduction of several characters at once (such as Haven’s found family, and then the Hubble family who she meets later in the story) make it challenging to keep up with their distinctions. However, any disorientation caused by the fast pacing is forgivable when a story is as engaging as this.
Fans of Artemis Fowl or Deltora’s Quest will likely enjoy Haven’s Indigo.
Genre: Middle Grade Fiction / Fantasy / Action & Adventure
Print Length: 286 pages
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