Debut author McManus offers a novel about a muse’s quest to continue after the death of the human he inspired.
Nog is a small, invisible creature “with a nose that faintly resembled a small pear.” His aim is to discreetly encourage creative work in humans. A muse like him, he says, “is supposed to remain unknown in the background. It’s the vessel’s song, the vessel’s painting, not the muse’s.” Nog inspires a singer named Danny, but later, he’s in poor spirits when Danny passes away. He soon finds himself in a New England cemetery with Danny’s broken guitar. Part of Nog’s melancholy stems from the fact that “Danny’s ideas shouldn’t die with him....He’s unfinished.” He decides to pay a visit to Danny’s infant daughter, but will he be able to inspire her the way he did her father? Although its overall plot stems from a character’s death, this book is unabashedly whimsical, as when a character “dropped some lumps of coal and a carrot stick into a puddle and called it Frosty.” As one might expect from a story about a musical muse, it includes frequent singing (“nature’s playing its symphony…asking you to sing another refrain”). However, despite all the slapstick, there are occasional gruesome moments; for example, there’s a bloody chase scene involving deafacils, creatures that look like “an upside-down, lumpy cone with two bug legs, feet like talons, and no eyes, but with three antennae sticking from where pupils would be under bushy brows.” Overall, though, this is an energetic, if lengthy, story of tiny creatures and their effects on the human world. Readers seeking a playful romp with plenty of misunderstandings will find more than their share here.
A rambunctious, albeit protracted, fantasy tale.