Inamorata: A darkly intriguing look at love, art, and sacrifice

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fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsInamorata by Megan ChanceInamorata by Megan Chance

The fatal muse. She inspires artists to create sublime masterpieces, but drains away their life force in exchange, driving them to madness or an early grave. This archetype lies at the heart of Inamorata, a new paranormal tale by Megan Chance, who has previously written a number of historical fiction and romance novels.

Inamorata is set in a gorgeously rendered nineteenth-century Venice, a city long past its heyday, now crumbling picturesquely into ruin. The captivating Odilé Leon has taken up residence there in the hopes of finding a new genius to inspire. Nicholas Dane, once Odilé’s lover and now determined to destroy her, follows her there. Drawn into their orbit are beautiful American twins Joseph and Sophie Hannigan, whose troubled past has forged a more than fraternal bond between them.

You will be transported to this decadent Venice by Chance’s wonderful descriptions. I’ve always wanted to travel there, and Inamorata only fed that desire. You will smell the food and the canals, hear the sounds that bounce strangely through the fogs, see the rippling light that makes everything appear underwater or not quite real. The city is as seductive as the story that plays out within it.

As for that story, it’s a darkly intriguing look at love, art, and what one might be willing to sacrifice to create something truly great. It’s given additional emotional resonance by the characters, who are not always sympathetic but always complex and layered. The ending doesn’t go where I thought it would, and I was surprised by how affecting it was. There’s a dash of feminism, too, in that the story asks what muses themselves might want — both the supernatural Odilé and all her mortal “sisters” who’ve been placed on pedestals, but not seen for their inner selves, over the centuries.

Inamorata is not going to be for everyone. If you’re trying to decide whether you’ll like it, ask yourself this: How do you feel about Anne Rice? Her older stuff, that is. This is a similar mix of beautiful old cities, lonely immortals, transgressive sexuality, and lush languid prose. If that’s the kind of spell you like to fall under, Inamorata is your kind of book.

August 1, 2014. American artist Joseph Hannigan and his alluring sister, Sophie, have arrived in enchanting nineteenth-century Venice with a single-minded goal. The twins, who have fled scandal in New York, are determined to break into Venice’s expatriate set and find a wealthy patron to support Joseph’s work. But the enigmatic Hannigans are not the only ones with a secret agenda. Joseph’s talent soon attracts the attention of the magnificent Odilé Leon, a celebrated courtesan and muse who has inspired many artists to greatness. But her inspiration comes with a devastatingly steep price. As Joseph falls under the courtesan’s spell, Sophie joins forces with Nicholas Dane, the one man who knows Odilé’s dark secret, and her sworn enemy. When the seductive muse offers Joseph the path to eternal fame, the twins must decide who to believe—and just how much they are willing to sacrifice for fame.

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KELLY LASITER, with us since July 2008, is a mild-mannered academic administrative assistant by day, but at night she rules over a private empire of tottering bookshelves. Kelly is most fond of fantasy set in a historical setting (a la Jo Graham) or in a setting that echoes a real historical period (a la George RR Martin and Jacqueline Carey). She also enjoys urban fantasy and its close cousin, paranormal romance, though she believes these subgenres’ recent burst in popularity has resulted in an excess of dreck. She is a sucker for pretty prose (she majored in English, after all) and mythological themes.

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One comment

  1. Lovely review, Kelly! I’ve never been a big Rice fan but it still might be my kind of thing.

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