Immortal Muse

Written by Stephen Leigh
Review by Mary F. Burns

This is an ambitious book with a fascinating theme and a wide-ranging cast of characters. It starts in the present, with every other chapter taking us back to the present day, interspersed with historical trips to other times, starting in 1352. Major sections are named after the various Muses—Euterpe, Polyhymnia, Calliope—and are related to the kind of artistic endeavor that section is about. Camille is the protagonist, and as the reader figures out pretty quickly (no spoiler here), she has lived several lives through the centuries, frequently as the “muse” to some great artist, sculptor, scientist or writer. It is a symbiotic relationship (verging on the predatory) but because Camille is immortal and her lovers are not, she ultimately must move on, find a new identity and new “host.” What makes it interesting is she has a psychotic pursuer, linked to her past, who keeps showing up and ruining things.

Overall, although it is an intriguing idea, I felt a lack of sympathy for Camille and her plight that made me feel impatient with the continual cycle of her many lives—one or two fewer turns around the centuries may have picked up the pace some. Part time-slip, part semi-sci-fi, part medieval witchery, and part self-absorbed-modern-artist in an urban setting, Leigh’s book is odd but also memorable and interesting.