The Muses: Vengeance of Time is the sequel to N.L. McEvoy’s Escaping Montague Manor, following Sarah and Nickolas McGuire on another harrowing adventure with the mystical muses. This time, Sarah and Nickolas aren’t as intent on escaping their Great-Aunt Vivian’s clutches as they are on reentering them.
When the children’s cousin, Simon, comes down with a mysterious and excruciatingly painful illness, they have no choice but to contact the powerful muses, whom they had previously freed from the machinations of their evil great-aunt and her benefactor, Dr. James. With the diplomatic Brigitta, herculean Bard, stoic Deidre, clandestine Charles, and a host of other characters both old and new, Sarah and Nickolas race to find a suitable cure to the ravaging effects of Great Aunt Vivian’s dubious experiments. An all-around fun, lighthearted read, Vengeance of Time includes a unique mix of magic, mythological creatures, and scientific discovery.
There are a few hiccups that readers may encounter, most of which can be traced back to a consideration of the target audience. The most serious of these issues is the pacing. It is likely that the target audience (children) will get bogged down in the recurring description of mundane activities. In order to keep the plot flowing and readers turning the page, McEvoy could cut extraneous passages, scenes, and chapters that play little part in character development or plot direction. This would help with the unnecessary length of the novel, which wraps up at a hefty 435 pages, a length daunting to even the most voracious preteen reader.
Finally, the cover is a bit lackluster – shelves are not the most eye-catching of images, and the placement of title and author name (as well as its size), gives an impression of a book that’s less professional than the story within its pages. If McEvoy wants to attract a larger audience, her first priority should be acquiring a striking cover.
These issues are not a condemnation of the book as a whole. McEvoy brings an enjoyable tale to readers with her sequel, and her eloquence is perhaps her strongest asset. This is a deeply entertaining and creative novel, of a caliber rarely seen in the independent publishing world. The editing is clean and sharp, with minimal errors and excellent sentence flow.
As for the story itself, McEvoy displays a knack for character creation. Every character, whether young human, proficient chef, or talented muse, is recognizable and easily distinguished, with their own set of unique traits and character quirks. Nothing ever feels recycled or overused, and McEvoy avoids the pitfall of tropes to an admirable degree. The plot, while sometimes meandering, wraps up nicely, and McEvoy leaves some tantalizing questions unanswered, keeping readers excited for further sequels.
Overall, The Muses: Vengeance of Time is a worthy sequel to its predecessor. N.L. McEvoy has written another entertaining adventure perfect for the young fantasy crowd. With a cast and tone well-suited to a preteen readership, McEvoy’s books are a very good fit for fans of Percy Jackson or The Chronicles of Narnia.