TPG Reviews: Inspired, by Danielle Shipley
Danielle Shipley’s finest work yet.
For a muse like Lucianíel, one story’s end is another’s beginning.
In the wake of his author’s sudden death, Luc takes ownership of her surviving creations—four fantastical characters with tales yet to be told—saving them from unwritten lives crumbling around them and giving them a second chance at a literary future.
Luc finds that chance in the unsuspecting mind of Annabelle Iole Gray, a quirky teen with her head in the clouds, nose in a book, and imagination ripe for a brilliant muse’s inspiration.
Or so he hopes.
Neither Luc nor Annabelle, however, realize all they’ve undertaken. Even with a to-write list including accounts of a shape-shifting cat creature, gentle knight-in-training, vigilante skater girl, and a mystery boy smothering in unspoken fear, the most remarkable saga created between author and muse just may turn out to be one stranger than fiction.
My rating: 9/10
I’m not gonna deny it, people: I think I might be turning into a fanboy.
Having already read three of Danielle Shipley’s works, I expected to love Inspired even before I started. In this regard, I was not disappointed. Inspired was a wonderful and enthralling read, and one that ended far too quickly for those very reasons.
The premise of Inspired is a novel one. After a writer’s tragic demise, a handful of creations escape her fading mind. Led by Luc, their old writer’s muse, these creations go hunting for a new author. Luc soon settles on Annabelle Gray, a geeky teenager with a love of reading and a vivid imagination. Luc and his wards soon settle into their new home, but is Annabelle really ready to tell their stories?
What follows is a truly unique tale presented in a number of ways. We get chapters from the perspective of Luc and his fellow creations. We get chapters from Annabelle’s point of view. We even get extracts from Annabelle’s writings, complete with summaries and notes for subsequent drafts. Of these, the latter were easily my favourite. Many are unusually candid regarding the writing process, providing a rare insight into the development from first draft to finished product. One of the extracts, meanwhile, stands entirely on its own merits and is arguably the highlight of the entire novel.
Luc and his band all originate from different stories in their old author’s mind, and so unsurprisingly prove to be a varied bunch. Luc himself is a light elemental with a kind and gentle demeanour, but with his fair share of flaws underneath the surface. His fellow creations include Uri, a goth teen with a love of skating and a connection to the divine, and Yves, a sad and quiet boy who is almost always seen dancing. All of this group are interesting in their own way, with the interactions between them – as well as between them and Annabelle – more interesting still.
There really is no reason not to buy Inspired. It is a well-written, witty and highly original adventure which also manages to be highly insightful regarding the process of writing. This is, in my opinion, Shipley’s best book yet. Highly recommended.
I received an advance copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review. If you’d like to see more about this book, then feel free to check out the following: