Well, this sucks. I love Brittany Cavallaro’s books and writing and was so looking forward to Muse, but…it just didn’t do it for me. I’m disappointed and I’m disappointed that I’m disappointed. But it happens. I never thought I would find a Tana French book boring and YET, that happened last year. So here we are.
Let’s get to the review!
Synopsis (from Goodreads):
The year is 1893, and war is brewing in the First American Kingdom. But Claire Emerson has a bigger problem. While her father prepares to reveal the mighty weapon he’s created to showcase the might of their province, St. Cloud, in the World’s Fair, Claire is crafting a plan to escape.
Claire’s father is a sought-after inventor, but he believes his genius is a gift, granted to him by his daughter’s touch. He’s kept Claire under his control for years. As St. Cloud prepares for war, Claire plans to claim her life for herself, even as her best friend, Beatrix, tries to convince her to stay and help with the growing resistance movement that wants to see a woman on the throne. At any cost.
When her father’s weapon fails to fire on the fair’s opening day, Claire is taken captive by Governor Remy Duchamp, St. Cloud’s young, untried ruler. Remy believes that Claire’s touch bestows graces he’s never had, and with his governing power weakening and many political rivals planning his demise, Claire might be his only and best ally. But the last thing that Claire has ever wanted is to be someone else’s muse. Still, affections can change as quickly as the winds of war. And Claire has a choice to make: Will she quietly remake her world from the shadows—or bring it down in flames?
Let’s start with the good, shall we?
I really loved Claire! I loved her interactions with her friend, Beatrix, how she worked with Tesla, and how curious she was about everything around her. I liked that she never gave up despite her less-than-great circumstances. Like….the girl repelled down the side of building with a sheet! That’s pretty awesome!
I also really liked how her… I don’t know how to say this in a good way, but how it was clear she was not very trusting of anyone because of her father’s abuse. It makes complete sense for her character and the way it was threaded throughout the story was very well done. As someone who has that exact same trait for similar reasons, I was like “ohhhh, yep, that holds true lol”
ACTION!! I love an action anything: movie, book, TV show, so I loved all the action scenes in Muse. There’s a fire and then the characters are being lifted through the ceiling and onto the roof of another building. It was thrilling and fun.
NOT MY FAVORITE
The relationship between Claire and Remy didn’t do anything for me. I didn’t feel their chemistry and it happened too quickly. The dude is part of the reason why she’s stuck in the palace. I don’t care if he’s a nervous, awkward boy, you don’t fall for him!
Remy was also simply not my cup of tea. I would have liked him as a supporting character vs a love interest. I fully expected Claire to end up with one of the guards protecting her and when it was clear she and Remy were the couple, I was a little let down.
Claire’s father and what happens to him wasn’t satisfying either. Why did he become a priest? What did that do for the story? Besides Claire’s past abuse and him being the abuser, to me, he could have been cut from the book and it still would have been fine. Something was missing with his character.
I also wanted more from the description of the World’s Fair. I wanted extravagance and description to match, but it fell short to me. And I think that goes for the worldbuilding in general. It didn’t feel complete or maybe it felt rushed. Idk.
Overall, I liked Muse but I didn’t love it. Some parts were good, but after reading the whole book, I was mostly just disappointed. And I hate that. I’m giving it 3 stars. I don’t want this to discourage anyone from giving it a try because I know other people loved it. It just wasn’t for me.
(TW: emotional and physical abuse mentioned, kidnapping)
Muse by Brittany Cavallaro is out now!
Thank you to Edelweiss and Katherine Tegen Books for the free eARC in exchange for my honest review.