Inamorata by Megan Chance
Author: Megan Chance
Genre: Fiction (Historical / 19th Century / Venice / Artists / Supernatural / Romantic Relationships / Sibling Relationships / Immortality)
Publisher/Publication Date: Lake Union Publishing (7/8/2014)
Source: TLC Book Tours
Did I finish?: I did!
One-sentence summary: A succubus, a slighted lover, and gifted twins with a strange intimacy all come together in a tangle of art, sex, and desire in 19th-century Venice.
Reading Challenges: Historical Fiction
Do I like the cover?: Love it -- totally spot on for the novel's feel and setting.
I'm reminded of...: Alma Katsu, Lauren Owen
First line: Though it was only a few hours until dawn, it was not quiet.
Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Borrow or buy.
Why did I get this book?: I've heard great things about Chance's previous novels.
Review: I'll admit that I keep meaning to be super snobbish about Amazon's Lake Union imprint, but then I forget -- and good thing, because I keep enjoying the reads I've come across (I Am Livia and now this one).
Set over a month in Venice in 1879, the novel follows four individuals: Odilé Leon, an immortal courtesan who feeds on genius to survive, gifting the artist in question with immortal fame; Nicholas Dane, a failed poet who never made a bargain with Odilé and is determined to destroy her; Joseph Hannigan, a deeply gifted artist with a disturbingly dark past and an impossible-to-ignore sexuality; and his twin sister, Sophie, who provides sensuous inspiration to her brother.
Odilé is on the hunt for a great genius to gift her curse to, and her sights land on Joseph. But Nicholas is determined to protect him -- and finds himself half obsessed with the artist and his alluring sister. Joseph and Sophie are on the hunt for the perfect patron -- someone to keep them fiscally comfortable so they can avoid the penniless pain of their childhood.
The plot of this novel is straight up melodrama -- in the best way. The Hannigan twins have a back story to make V.C. Andrews proud, and the supernatural elements harken to Anne Rice, Alma Katsu, and Lauren Owen. The setting -- 19th century Venice -- enhances the decadent, decaying allure of our courtesan and the give-and-take between the rich expats and the artists vying for their attention.
While the premise of the novel is fabulously over-the-top, it's the four main characters that make the story grounded and real. In Chance's hands, they are all mufti-faceted and intriguing -- even our "villainess", the succubus Odilé, is sympathetic (in fact, she was my favorite part of the story).
The narrative was a tiny bit too long-winded for my tastes: I felt like the set up for the denouement was perfectly established well before Chance did, and as a result, the conclusion felt a bit rushed for me. Still, there was a deliciously bittersweet ending that caught me up despite myself and made for a satisfying finish.
A delightful escape for summer, or, something for October's R.I.P. challenge, Inamorata has all the right elements for a juicy, slightly titillating supernatural read.
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I'm thrilled to offer a copy of Inamorata to one lucky reader! To enter, fill out this brief form. Open to US and Canadian readers only, ends 8/22. Be sure to check out my interview with Megan Chance on 8/13 for another chance to win!