Sunday, May 18, 2014

Review: Apollo's Curse by Brad Vance

Apollo's CurseApollo's Curse by Brad Vance
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Dane is a "serious writer" who focuses on authenticity and character development and tends to look down on the authors who write what he considers to be fluffy stories that are written to catch the eye of the popular market. The problem? His story isn't selling. In a moment of desperation he agrees to join a romance book club in an effort to promote himself and his book. The other two members of the club are completely unexpected; he finds himself enjoying their company and intelligent yet snarky commentary more than he expected.

In a moment of wine-induced brilliance the three friends decide to combine their various talents and author a romance book together. Surprised by it's success they continue to write. At first Dane considers their combined project to be a bit of a lark, but when the sexy cover model they choose to feature on their story catches his eye, he can't help but become captivated by the mystery that surrounds his new muse. While he realizes his infatuation is based on nothing more than his imagination, Dane can't help but jump at the chance to attend the upcoming romance convention with his fellow authors; the one and only public appearance his muse makes each year.

Momentarily caught up in the fan frenzy that surrounds model Paul Musegetes, Dane refuses to become another groupie. A strange encounter with a bitter author precedes the most unexpected moment of his life; coming face to face with his muse. The steamy encounter the two men share that night was the most passionate experience of Paul's life... if only he could remember the details. Over the next few months Dane's life changes; becoming completely consumed with writing stories that revolve around Paul's pictures. When inspiration turns to obsession Dane reluctantly accepts that there might be more to the dramatic changes that have recently overtaken his life and begins to search for answers.

I found Apollo's Curse to have a bit of a slow start. I found Dane's character hard to connect with and his condescending attitude is more than a bit off-putting. This initial impression is enhanced by the combination of first person and narrative writing that Vance uses. I kept plugging away however and about 20% into the story found myself starting to engage.

Dane's character becomes clearer, his struggles more personal, and the addition of more supporting characters began to enhance the overall dynamic. Half way through the story I was completely hooked. Rather than laying everything out plainly for readers, Vance develops his story using veiled suggestions and slowly reveals details that readers must put together themselves in order to complete the puzzle. I found myself turning the pieces over in my head while trying to anticipate where the story was leading me.

The heart of this story is in the journey. As Dane struggles to discover the cause of his obsession and attempts to reconcile his analytical mind with the reality living out a curse that is rooted in ancient mythology, his character is easier to empathise with.

I would have liked to have seen a bit more follow through at the end. It felt a bit abrupt and there were a few questions that remained unanswered but it's possible that was done intentionally. Overall, Apollo's Curse is a book worth reading. Despite the occasional pacing issues and a few editing errors, I found the story premise to be unique and engaging.

A copy of Apollo's Curse was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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