The town of Glory is famous for two things: businesses that front for seedy, if not illegal, enterprises and the suicides that happen along the Indigo River. Marsden is desperate to escape the “bed-and-breakfast” where her mother works as a prostitute—and where her own fate has been decided—and she wants to give her little sister a better life. But escape means money, which leads Mars to skimming the bodies that show up along the Indigo River. It’s there that she runs into Jude, who has secrets of his own and whose brother’s suicide may be linked to Mars’s own sordid family history. As they grow closer, the two unearth secrets that could allow them to move forward . . . or chain them to the Indigo forever.
In this bleak tale from Chapman (Dualed), high school junior Marsden Eldridge is desperate to escape her hometown of Glory, along with her younger sister, Wynn. To do so, she skims money from the bodies she finds in the nearby covert, purportedly cursed property owned by her family it draws people from miles around to kill themselves there. The sisters live in a brothel masquerading as a boarding house, where their half-Chinese mother works as a prostitute. Soon, Marsden will be forced into prostitution to help repay her late father's debts. Then Marsden's classmate Jude Ambrose shows up, looking for answers about his older brother's suicide. Marsden and Jude, both mixed-race outsiders, start falling for each other, but Marsden has secrets she fears having uncovered and the mystery of her father's death to solve. Overlapping subplots abound, though Marsden's fixation on speaking with the dead is an extraneous one without much traction. The setup is enticingly eerie, but Chapman's lyrical writing is weighed down by a slow-moving plot. Ages 13 up.