Dark Muse Reviewed By Norm Goldman of
Norm Goldman

Reviewer & Author Interviewer, Norm Goldman. Norm is the Publisher & Editor of

He has been reviewing books for the past twenty years after retiring from the legal profession.

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By Norm Goldman
Published on July 5, 2017

Author: Philip Mann

Publisher: Double Dragon Publishing

ISBN: 978-1-77115-278-5

Author: Philip Mann

Publisher: Double Dragon Publishing

ISBN: 978-1-77115-278-5

Nearly all of us our familiar with the term muse where artists, writers, poets and musicians have credited their creative work to the inspiration of their muse. Imagine if the muse turns out to be someone that has a strange glow, maybe in their body or perhaps in their eyes and suddenly people are horrified to look at them, nevertheless, they still have such power on some individuals that these benefactors can accomplish tremendous achievements and use knowledge in ways they could not imagine? Suppose these same muses also have a black side to their persona where they can play a role in someone's death and even cause suicides. And what if these fearsome muses find themselves in a painful quandary where they fall madly in love with someone who is totally unsuspecting of their hair-raising powers?

In this debut novel, Dark Muse Philip Mann has crafted two such ladies with these spooky powers, one of whom does in fact enter into a romance liaison while the other, her complete opposite, relishes hostility and couldn't care less about the deaths she has caused.

Mann, with skillful narrative pacing, effectively blends into his plot the paranormal and the supernatural, the power of love in the face of the most daunting obstacles, tragedy,  and even elements of Hasidic Jewish orthodoxy, as well Jewish tradition and law. I will be honest with you, this is quite a smorgasbord of themes that requires readers to have an open mind and even a sense of the absurd. Moreover, only an author with a very creative imagination can pull this off and this is what Mann has precisely accomplished.

The setting of the narrative takes place in the borough of Outremont, bordering on an area in Montreal, Canada known as Mile End. By the way, I grew up in this area and thus I was instantly taken in by Mann's authenticity and accuracy in fashioning various scenes and the dwellers of the area which personally made the read all the more pleasurable and captivating.

As the yarn unfolds, we are introduced to our primary character, Vita (Vi) Gold who, on a cold wintry day in late December, has just aided a friend to  kill himself and, by the way, this was not the first time that she had an influence on someone's death. Distraught and weeping, Vi, at three in the morning, finds herself sitting on a stone step of a statute of an angel, a Montreal landmark located astride on a well-known street, Park Avenue. It is here where she encounters a sweet Jewish boy, Cal (Calman) Simon who is quite concerned about her and offers to drive her to a nearby hospital, but Vi refuses. In time, the couple exchange information about each other, although Vi leaves out her awesome powers. Cal is instantly smitten with Vi's beauty and as the story progresses the two enter into an intense love relationship and the chemistry between them is as perfect as they could hope for.

Mann introduces his readers to a second muse, Lee Marvin who meets Vi in an old section of downtown Montreal. It is here on a summer day where Lee suddenly appears wearing red-framed blue-lensed wraparound shades and a huge straw hat. Apparently, it was the same woman who had drawn Vi and Cal's portraits in Old Montreal and she indicates to Vi that she is well-aware of Vi's conundrum. Their relationship ends up being quite rocky with some surprising revelations, and as we learn, their lives are neither easy nor predictable.

To sum up the yarn I would use the Yiddish expression, it is a good bobbemyseh -old wife's tale. There are some over the top and cockamamie scenes, but there are also moments of sensitivity and beauty which plunges us from romance to noir.

Dark Muse has proven itself to be a welcome lively and entertaining imaginative first novel by an author whom I am sure we will hear more about in the future.