The Immortal Muse
Cricket Publishing, 2019
I find a great way to judge a series is by jumping right into the narrative–no explanation, no expectation. If the story can hook you without relying on past books, it’s something work exploring further. Approaching Mandy Jackson-Beverly’s The Creative Series, I knew nothing of it, but I jumped in with both feet to Book 3, The Immortal Muse, and am glad I did.
Of course, there are details and references I missed or didn’t know of, but at its heart what details The Immortal Muse contributes to a wider story arc isn’t exclusively tied to the experience of the novel itself. While not a ‘standalone’ novel, readers can let this story inhabit them and still find it compelling. Having said that, I suspect I will now go back and read books 1 and 2.
Diving into the deep machinations of the story, The Immortal Muse presents us with the Allegiance, a religious and mystical organization set against defeating an incarnation of the devil, Kenan. Supernatural immortals abound–vampires, witches, and warlocks–having carved secret niches throughout history. These paths converge on the story’s protagonist Coco and her tumultuous relationship with Gabriel that’s being torn apart by Kenan psychic and real world machinations to defeat his opponents.
Readers unfamiliar with the series can just let the vast glut of names wash over them, Jackson-Beverly’ prose dwells on the inner lives of her characters well enough to ground them. Also, her skill invoking vistas from the past is vivid matched only by the deft descriptions of glorious works of art that come alive thanks to the magic and supernatural abilities of these vampires and kin.
This dark fantasy cuts between contemporary Italian villas and other erotic locales while also throwing readers back in time to scenes that seeded the present day drama. And it is drama Jackson-Beverly writes, the addictive melodrama of sweeping operas where the majesty of locations are only out done by the fire within the characters. Take, for example, this early description of Kenan suffering a psychic blow from an Allegiance ritual:
“A glass fell from Kenan’s hand and shattered on the terra-cotta tiles. He dropped to his knees, ripped open his dark gray shirt to free his chest, and watches as the small white buttons tumbled in slow motion through the air and bounced across the floor. Heat rushed through his veins like flames of Greek fire. Ge gagged on old blood that rose in his throat and wiped a hand across his lips. His hand had swollen, the pink skin blistered and withered to a blackened clawlike appendage.”
Is the prose a bit purple? Certainly, but it’s also wonderfully cinematic making it fun because it is so heightened. Between swinging from intrigue to intrigue, readers experience an equally passionate relationship between Gabriel and Coco–one that is vital and maddening.
As the last installment of the series, The Immortal Muse reads quickly while maintaining not just an in-novel intensity but what feels like an engaging series tension. Readers who love urban fantasy or dark fantasy will be best pleased by this series and its conclusion.
About the Author
Mandy Jackson-Beverly was born in Pyramid Hill, Victoria, Australia-population 419-and grew up around the rugged coastline and rolling hills of Tasmania. Upon moving to England, she discovered the tantalizing London fashion scene and fell in love with the concept of the creative collective. Later in Los Angeles, she found her own creative freedom among the thriving, no-holds-barred visionaries of the music video world. Mandy has worked as a costume designer and stylist for an amazing array of creative dynamos including photographer Herb Ritts; directors Joel and Ethan Coen, David Fincher, and Julien Temple; and music icons David Bowie, Madonna, and Tina Turner. She taught art and theater in public high school, is a contributor to The Huffington Post, and reviews books for The New York Journal of Books. These days she lives with her family in Ojai, California, and spins stories for her readers’ pleasure as well as her own. When Mandy’s not writing or reading (she has a fascination with Jung), she’s cooking, painting, or on walkabout-preferably in Italy. Mandy loves to hear from her readers. You can find her via her website at http://www.mandyjacksonbeverly.com. Author of A Secret Muse, The Devil And The Muse, The Legend of Astridr: Birth, and The Immortal Muse