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Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Muse: A Fun Read

The Muse, by Fred Warren, takes the reader into the world of muses, thus the title. Stan is a writer who's having trouble figuring out where to go with his story. His writer's group, consisting of Davos and Jilly, are also struggling. Then along comes Leila, and suddenly they're able to not only get their stories back on track, but find buyers and break into the big time. But how? And more importantly, why?

That's the engine for this story as the seemingly innocent events grow to dangerous proportions. Our trio, along with Stan's wife, Charity, and his daughter, Hannah, are thrown into the world of a Muse intent on destroying them along with many others.

There is a Christian element to the story, but that is due to the characters being Christian, not an attempt to preach. Most anyone would be comfortable reading this, no matter what religion or non-religion they are. But you'll not find an attempt to deliver an overt message or belittle anyone else in these pages.

The strength of the story lies in Mr. Warren's well developed characters. He has a great cast, and they are well written. Their interaction provides much of the story's spark. The only character I felt who could have used more nuance was the antagonist. She starts out interesting enough, but by the end, she evolves into the typical, arrogant villain. But the rest of the cast had depth and interesting interaction, and was what kept the story vibrant.

I read this rather quickly. On my limited schedule, reading a book takes a month or more, but I found myself sitting in the chair, late into the night, with a cup of tea or coffee, reading yet another chapter. I finished it within four days of starting. Would I call it a page turner? Plot wise, not really, but the writing and characters were so well done, I had to find out what would happen to them, and that kept me reading.

Which is good, because for me, it was a slow burn on discovering that there was a danger to confront. Mr. Warren takes his time building to the point where we fully realize the danger Stan and his friends are in. I found myself wanting to "get there" much sooner than we actually did. That coming from a guy who likes fast-paced narrative. Your mileage may vary.

Related to that, I had watched the book's trailer. I knew at some point, our heroes would end up trapped in an alternate reality and have to fight their way out. If I hadn't been looking for it, I may not have felt this way, but the entry into this alternate reality doesn't happen until the last third of the book. I not only grew impatient waiting for them to get there, but wasn't ready to leave when they did. Mr. Warren introduces several characters once in the new world who I would have loved to learn more about. If I had my say, I would have preferred more time in the alternate world and less in the real.

The plot is a mixture of both original concepts and predictable moments. It isn't complicated, and I did feel more could have been done with it. Yet, the world of the Muse held interest, and I can tell Mr. Warren had invested the time in their back story. While the plot had a couple of holes, I had fun reading it. He paints the world, both real and alternate, so you feel you're there. The plot adequately displays his strength: the characters. If you don't need cliff-hanger action on every page, and prefer characters who you find interesting, my bet is you'll enjoy this novel as well as I did.

Can be found at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or other bookstores.

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