The Muse, by Arjay Lewis, is a demented thriller about following your passions to the depths of depravity, as innocence and corruptness slowly waltz beyond the cracks within reality.
Sheriff Neil Trajan had recently lost his wife, Sandy, to a monstrous serial killer, whom he believes to be the famous horror author, Jack Court. Driven by vengeance, he will stop at nothing until he finally puts Court down. Harry Godwine is a professor of English and History and failing writer, whose son is incredibly ill. One day, Harry suddenly finds the inspiration to write a terrifying horror novel, one that mirrors Court’s writing style with an almost eerie perfection. And finally, there is the author himself, who possesses a dark creature that allows him to write and indulge in his violent passions. All three men are in a race against time as they continue to track a dark creature, one that could drag out demons from a person’s mind, and turn any artist into a deranged monster enslaved to their own, malevolent muse.
I loved these characters. I could feel Neil’s intensity when he tried to find his wife’s killer, how obsessive he felt when he realized that he was right. He was driven, and although he gets reckless at times, he knows full well that he has to rely on others. His devotion to his wife is similar to that of Harry’s to his family. Harry wanted to be a writer for a long time, but even so, he’d rather give up the dream than allow them to suffer. It was so refreshing to see people who have such a strong sense of morality. Throughout the many books I’ve read, many protagonists simply fall victim to their demise, simply because they refuse to give up their pride, or greed, or any other anchor that happily drags them to their death. My admiration for them contrasted sharply to Jack Court, who fell in love with the dark, macabre world of crimson. Jack lusted for it, to the point where he would kill others to feed his obsession. It was like I was watching a parasite feed off the living, like a demonic entity who enjoyed tormenting its victims.
This leads me to the muse itself. More so than Jack, the creature truly was a thing of the dark, drawing from the blackest depths of humanity. It was a monster that was truly beyond our understanding, a twisted nightmare that can fashion a demented fairytale from even the most innocence of stories. It’s only through Tim that the muse is restrained. It’s ironic in that sense, that one child could take control of such a horrific darkness, one not even adults could conquer. It was an aspect of the book that was extremely well done.
One of the overarching concepts in the story was being haunted by the past. Neil was haunted by his wife’s death, and would do anything to bring the killer to justice. Whenever the sheriff went into Jack’s basement, it was as if I could feel his victims watching him, watching me. I was honestly scared to turn the page, simply because I didn’t know if they would surprise me with their damnable fate. I can’t help but think about the victims’ photos as well, how their ghosts felt when they realized they might as well have been forgotten, another name in a list of missing people. The fact that Lewis keeps these victims close by, all the while showing me just what Harry could become, was stunning.
Because of this, I would give this book a rating of a 5 out of 5 stars. I loved the characters, and how they added to the gothic feel of this story. The Muse was extraordinarily well done, alongside the victims. As such, I would recommend this to fans of Frozen Statues, Perdition Games by L.E. Fraser, and The Skin Room by Morgan Fleetwood.
Here is a link to the book: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B074FX5N58/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1