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.