Last week I read and reviewed Blue Magic by author A.M. Dellamonica and loved it – so when I was approached to host a guest post by her I was thrilled. I asked if she could write something about the Roused, a group of First Nations people who were greatly affected not only by the scourge against magic but colonization. Hope you all enjoy it as much as I did!
About the author: Alyx lives in Vancouver, Canada, where she sings in a community choir and takes thousands of digital photographs. In 2003, soon after finishing her first novel, Indigo Springs, the Supreme Court of B.C. ruled in favor of legalized same-sex marriage. A month later, she achieved a lifelong dream by marrying her long-term partner, writer and wine critic Kelly Robson, at one of their favorite places, the UBC Botanical Gardens.
Raising the Roused
by A.M. Dellamonica
In Indigo Springs, a woman named Astrid Lethewood discovers a wellspring of magic in an old house she inherits from her father. The magic has been there for centuries–it was hidden in another realm, known variously as the unreal or Fairyland, over the period between the thirteen hundreds and the late 18th century.
In North America, the shift of magic to the unreal began shortly after the first European explorers came to this continent. Enchantment was, in essence, fleeing Europeans who were seeking to either control or destroy it. The aboriginal people of the Americas did what they could to resist these invaders, in part by hiding magic and anyone with a strong connection to it.
Indigo Springs had two First Nations characters. One is Mrs. Skye, who lives next door to Astrid and who, if you squint hard enough, has an activist niece who is keen to get her hands on her old auntie’s home. (I never got around to writing much about that niece, Lilla, but I always figured she knew the truth.)
The other is Elizabeth Walks-in-Shadow, who is long dead before the story begins. Elizabeth was at one time the person who controlled the mystical well in Indigo Springs, but she was disinherited and murdered, and her ability passed to a member of the white family fostering her–to Astrid Lethewood’s ancestors.
This is all backstory, and none of it strikes Astrid as especially important as she begins to discover the magic and explore its properties. It matters to her stepbrother, Jacks, who’s more savvy politically and who has a specific issue with town historians who’ve glossed over the story of Elizabeth’s murder. But even when the connections become apparent, Astrid doesn’t give the tie-in to First Nations history that much thought. It’s old news, and she’s got an apocalypse on her hands.
In Blue Magic, the sequel, this thorny little issue becomes more visible to all the characters. It isn’t just enchantment that ended up contained in the unreal–a certain number of First Nations people went there too, fleeing white settlers and the diseases and violence they brought with them. When the magic took liquid form and then froze, all these people were trapped in glaciers of magic. As more and more magic escapes into the real world, they’re starting to wake up… and they’re not all content to sit around waiting for a benevolent Euro-descended someone to free the rest of them.
Also, they’re not all human. Astrid says it something like this:
Will, the witch burners owned Europe when they started their crusade against enchantment. They had to take the Americas, inch by inch. There were people here–spirits, too, and walking gods, and none of them were dumb. They saw what was happening and banked their power in the unreal. They hoped their shamans and medicine women could trickle magic back drop by drop, without doing any harm. . .
The Roused, as they come to be called, are major stakeholders in the attempt to put the magical spill to rights in BLUE MAGIC.
This seems, to me, to be an obvious and necessary part of the story. We all of us here in North America live on First Nations land–my home is in the Sto:lo traditional territory–and the magic that would have been here wouldn’t be rife with pixies, unicorns and Celtic-ish, wand-wielding wizards.
In Blue Magic, we meet Teoquan, whose mission in life seems to be rubbing this reality in the faces of people like Astrid Lethewood and Will Forest, who are now in the position of deciding what to do with a natural resource that properly belongs to the aboriginal people of North America.
Even though they’re good people, they never really buy into the idea that this matters.
In this, I’m writing what I see. This storyline is a magical overlay on a real enough issue, one that’s alive and well here in British Columbia. The forests we’re cutting down and making millions from all lie on someone’s traditional territory. Ditto the salmon fishery, the oil, the mineral resources and the living space.
As nice, somewhat liberal-leaning, and genuinely caring individuals–people I relate to–Astrid and Will can recognize that there’s unfairness there, but for them there’s no getting past the fact that there’s a disaster on. What are they going to do? All this stuff happened hundreds of years before they were born. And does that Teo guy really have to be so obnoxious about pointing it out all the time?
If you live in my neck of the woods, you can find this attitude, and far less subtle dismissals, on the Letters to the Editor page of any paper that’s recently run an article about First Nations land claims, or about the high percentage of aboriginal people in our prisons, or residential schools, or any issue that pings that raw nerve many white Canadians have about the fact that we live in this marvelous, beautiful, remarkable nation that our ancestors took, by guile and by force, from people who were already here.
Giveaway: Blue Magic by A.M. Dellamonica
There are two (2) copies of Blue Magic up for grabs curtesy of Tor Books. Leave a comment with your email address to enter!
1. Open to US and Canadian mailing addresses only. No P.O. box.
2. Need to be 13 or older to enter.
3. The winner will be announced on this blog and I will contact the winner via email and they will have 24 hours to provide their mailing address. If they don’t, a new winner will be chosen.
4. The prize will be mailed by the publisher and so I will not have responsibility in getting the book to the winner.
5. Winner will be selected using Random.org
6. Giveaway ends on April 23rd 11:59 PM EST.