by Fred Warren
Stan Marino needs a muse. He's written himself into a corner...again.
A shot of inspiration is all he needs to finish his story...where is he going to find it?
What Stan doesn't know: Inspiration has found him, and it's about to take over his life.
Ripped from reality, he must lead a band of lost souls in a life-or-death battle with a merciless enemy.
Stan has found his muse, but will he survive it?
The Muse tells the story of Stan Marino, an aspiring author who finds himself struggling with writer's block. Along with his two writer friends he spends almost every spare minute either writing, or agonizing over, his stories. All three hope to be published, but each has his or her own problems to deal with. What they need is inspiration. What they need is a muse. Enter the unlikely villain: a plain, almost timid, woman who seems to know exactly what each needs to do to overcome their problems.
I knew I was going to enjoy this book from the very first scene. I'm always on the lookout for someone with a fresh voice, and Warren's prose is enchanting. I got the feeling that he typed each word with a smile on his face. His joy of storytelling shines from the page and the humour is always just below the surface. I laughed out loud in one scene, which caught me by surprise. Happily, I wasn't on public transport at the time.
The Muse is a short story (arguably novella length) but Warren manages to pack a huge amount into those pages. He touches on themes of love, loss, redemption and temptation, all wrapped in a package of epic fantasy that never loses sight of its humanity. Indeed, the strength of the story for me lies in the fact that it is rooted in the real world, with flesh-and-blood people, even when we are carried into the realm of fantasy. My heart ached for Stan and his family. Warren painted characters that I felt I knew. The villain was especially well done.
Warren is an excellent author who has found a place on my list of favourites. I can't wait to read his other works.