The Indigo Pheasant is the second book in the Longing For Yount sequence by Daniel Rabuzzi (published by ChiZine Publications). The story picks up a short time after where The Choir Boats – reviewed here – left off. The setting is 19th Century London, but the capital is not quite as we know it. The Yount books take place in an alternate world severed from our own many years ago.
Most of the characters in The Indigo Pheasant were already established in The Choir Boats, and so the novel is quick to launch into the meat of the story, with Sally and her friends taking on the might of the Owl and his sinister forces in order to save Yount itself from destruction.
The Indigo Pheasant is a colourful read in more ways than one. There’s a wealth of detail worked into every scene, as well as flashes of intertextuality and nods towards famous writers of the 19th Century. This has the effect of making Yount into a rich and realistic-seeming alternate world, every bit as complete as our own. This realism is strengthened still further by the inclusion of ephemera such as letters and reports in between chapters.
Sometimes however, I felt that the pacing was off, with matters either too rushed or too slow. As much as I enjoyed the between-chapter artefacts, I was much more interested in the story, and sometimes found myself wondering why they were relevant. It’s little things like this that let The Indigo Pheasant down: the inertia of the narrative wobbles, characters drop out or fade as soon as they’re no longer needed. It’s a strong but flawed story.
That said, The Indigo Pheasant is still enormously enjoyable. I would recommend reading The Choir Boats first, as this novel forms the conclusion to the story that is begun in that volume. For a novel that is tentatively pitched at a young adult audience, it is surprisingly complex and worldly. If you enjoy original and authentic fantasy, then this is a book worth reading.
Christopher Frost is a writer from the North of England.