Dark Muse by David Simms; Fire And Ice Young Adult Books; 2013; 259 pgs; $5.99 (Kindle) US

Dark Muse is a young adult novel riffing on the old Robert Johnson myth of how he acquired his musical abilities by making a deal with the devil alongside a crossroad in the Mississippi Delta.  In Dark Muse we follow along with the story of 4 young teens in high school who have a band called The Accidentals, and they are searching for the brother of one of the band members who disappeared at this mythical crossroad.

With help from an unlikely source at school, the four band members find an old black man who not only knows of the crossroads and the power it holds, but has experienced it himself.  He takes the band members with him back to the crossroads, and together, via the power of music, they all travel to another dimension.  This new land they find themselves in is not very hospitable and they discover that not all who visit come back.  Those that have gone and have come back include Jimi Hendrix and other rock legends, and many of the great blues guitarist and vocalist spanning the ages.  But there is a price to be paid for taking the trip, and it could be a steep one.

The band makes a few trips over to this new land in search of the missing brother, and each time they encounter nightmare creatures and the spector of The Dark Muse who controls the fate of this land.  Can the band, along with their new found friends in this dimension, find the missing boy and then make it back to their own world safely?

Dark Muse obviously relies heavily on music and musical metaphors to tell its story.  Band names, famous musicians, as well as popular songs pepper the plot, and it’s not giving away much to say that music saves the lives of these characters in more ways than one.  Each of the band members are portrayed with problems that teens will readily identify with including bullying, abuse, medical issues, and young love.  The dialogue is quick, snappy, and at times sarcastic, much like you would hear when eavesdropping on any group of young teens hanging out.  There are also lessons to be learned and morality plays to ponder in Dark Muse, but they are presented in a way that is engrossing and entertaining.

Those that enjoy music, specifically classic rock, will delight at the bands and musicians name-dropped in Dark Muse, and they will get a kick of the way the author has woven songs into the narrative.  Young teens should also enjoy the action in Dark Muse as the speed of the plot allows no time for boredom.  I would recommend Dark Muse to any young adult who enjoys an action packed read, loves classic rock or the blues, or just plain enjoys a good yarn.


Aug 28, 2013

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