Author: Megan Chance
Genre: historical fiction, supernatural
Published: August 1 2014
Source: TLC Book Tours for review
American artist Joseph Hannigan and his alluring sister, Sophie, have arrived in enchanting nineteenth-century Venice with a single-minded goal. The twins, who have fled scandal in New York, are determined to break into Venice’s expatriate set and find a wealthy patron to support Joseph’s work.
But the enigmatic Hannigans are not the only ones with a secret agenda. Joseph’s talent soon attracts the attention of the magnificent Odilé Leon, a celebrated courtesan and muse who has inspired many artists to greatness. But her inspiration comes with a devastatingly steep price.
As Joseph falls under the courtesan’s spell, Sophie joins forces with Nicholas Dane, the one man who knows Odilé’s dark secret, and her sworn enemy. When the seductive muse offers Joseph the path to eternal fame, the twins must decide who to believe—and just how much they are willing to sacrifice for fame.
If you asked me what I liked most about reading Megan Chance's new novel Inamorata, I would been forced to pick between the complicated, compelling characters, the ever-present ambiance and atmosphere of 1800s Venice, or the creative mythology used to frame the plot and narrative. There's a lot to recommend this supernatural historical, and I found myself readily engaging with Chance's detailed and thoughtful storytelling style. The beginning moves at a slower pace than would be most effective and the denouement can feel a bit rushed after the 400 pages leading up, but I would recommend this readily to anyone searching for a historical with an edge of the supernatural.
There's not a lot out there in the same vein as Inamorata but the closest accruate comparison I can comeup with is Kate Forsyth's Bitter Greens. Both feature complicated villains/antiheroes, and use those characters as muses for the ages. Chance's novel is about a trio of well-drawn characters but it is Odile Leon, a woman who has inspired and loved many artists, singers, musicians that commands the most attention. In many ways for a variety of reasons, Odile is the best part of the novel. Though she is clearly set up as the antagonist for Nicholas as well as the Hannigan twins, Odile is complicated, complex, and thoroughly interesting. She's an excellent foil for the trio, but her own story is more than that of a typical antagonist.
Joseph and his sister Sophie are the catalysts for the story's plot. Odile needs Joseph, Nicholas wants to defeat Odile, and the Hannigans have a secret agenda of their own. It takes a while for the reader to understand the motivations of each character since their backstories are doled out slowly, revealed through slight flashbacks and hints in dialogue and internal monologue. Megan Chance is a gifted author and it shows in how well-crafted and three-dimensional her core cast are shown to be throughout the course of Inamorata. None of them are perfect, and all of them are haunted by who they are and how they got to be that way.
I did feel that there was slightly too much build-up and not enough conflict for the finale of the novel. I wanted more action and felt that Nicholas's pent up bitterness and rage was overcome slightly too easily for the seven years he nursed his ambitions. I definitely didn't expect for the book to end the way it did and the final twist is commendable for its execution and the surprise factor. For all that, Inamorata is a fantastic pairing of history and the supernatural and easily a favorite for 2014.