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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Ancient Musings

Ancient Musings by Skhye Moncrief
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Paranormal; SciFi/Fantasy
Length: Short story
Heat: Sensual
Rating: 3.5 books
Reviewed by Dandelion

Disgusted with her lack of purpose, Calliope is learning all too well the warning in be careful what you wish for. She challenged Zeus and landed in Hades. Now she needs to reach Gaia’s pool to save herself from the Land of the Dead’s darkness. Little did she expect a psyche to reveal the path to tomorrow.

The soul of archaeologist, Jake Genoese, is bored to tears until he finds the beautiful Calliope, intriguing and bearing the token he needs to jumpstart his day-excursion on the afterlife’s cruise to nowhere.

One’s light brightens the other’s future as Olympians vie for power by toying with psyches in the Kingdom of Hades, for nothing more than the simple whims of ANCIENT MUSINGS.

In "Ancient Musings", part of the Song of the Muses series where Greek gods meet ordinary mortals, one lost Muse finds her true love after braving a journey through the underworld. This is the second novella I’ve read in this series, and I really enjoy seeing the Greek myths brought to life. Ms. Moncrief does a good job weaving the myths and the various gods and demi-gods through her plot.

Most of this story takes place in the underworld, where Zeus has sent his muse Calliope on a journey of self-discovery. Calliope is bored of her existence as a muse and wants to become a mortal. While trapped in the darkness, however, she meets Jake Genoese, an Italian archaeologist who has died and is doomed to an existence in limbo - until he gets the opportunity to travel with Calliope. Along the way, the two battle Harpies, enjoy the pleasures of the Elysian Fields, and finally face the dilemma of getting Calliope across the River of Lethe to Gaia’s Pool, the place where she can become mortal. Of course, if she does, then she loses Jake forever!

The pace at which these two fall in love works well; for a while, Jake is simply a nice guy and Calliope’s protector. He knows a great deal about Greek myths from his prior life, so he’s able to steer her and protect her from enemies as they pass through the various parts of the underworld. Eventually, Calliope realizes that she’s found her inspiration and the man she loves after all, and her final decision about her own mortality is well written and believable. Ancient Musings ends with a perfect happy ending in the flawless world of Olympus.

The characters of Jake and Calliope are well developed and likable. There’s just enough irritation and conflict between them to make the reader want to say, “Open your eyes! The true love of your life is right here!” The minor characters add to the story as well: Hades, Apollo, Ajax (Calliope’s ex-husband and an especially colorful god), and the evil Harpies.

The chief flaw in this story, for me, was the constant point of view shifting. Within each chapter, the author jumps repeatedly between the hero and heroine’s heads. It became confusing to tell whose story I was following. There are also some awkward wording choices, and some places where contemporary language slips in and pulls the reader out of the story.

Other than these two issues, "Ancient Musings" is an enjoyable story. It brings to life the Greek myths with some terrific characterization. If you’d like to get lost in a fantasy world (and learn a little mythology at the same time), you’ll enjoy this installment of Song of the Muses.