Awen Is About to Become a Muse, Whether She Wants To or Not
In her world, some individuals are destined only to serve
The Crickhowell School for the Muses is a neo-gothic novel with more than a touch of the supernatural. It is set in the hilly countryside, in a place and at a time when travel is by carriage, and castles are lit by candle. Miss Nina, headmistress at the Crickhowell School, runs a thriving business in the muse trade. While rarely performing the dirty work herself, she oversees the kidnappings, the education, and finally the exportation of the young and talented to inspiration-starved artists. It's hard work, but the muses-in-training never put up a fight-until Awen comes along.
When Awen is kidnapped from her rural village and confined at Crickhowell, her misery eventually fades into relief. She finds a kind music teacher, discovers a new friend, and her only requirement as a student is to study the art of singing-her favorite thing in the world. However, Awen soon realizes that Miss Nina's goal is not simply to train voices. She is trying to take them away.
Determined to escape this fate, Awen becomes swept up into the intrigues of a scheming subordinate teacher, a salacious workman, a quirky artist-patron, and a handsome blond horseman. When both her own voice and the music around her mysteriously fade into silence, Awen's only hope is to turn against the very artist she was commanded to inspire.
Awen is a strange but strong young heroine in search of herself. She seems to have no memory of her childhood or family in the village, and she is mute until she finds somebody worth talking to. She resembles the Little Mermaid, who has a lovely singing voice but is otherwise mute; Beauty in the castle of the Beast, where she may wander as she wishes, but with limitations; and Cinderella, whose foot fits the shoe. But Awen is different from these archetypical heroines because she bolts from confinement and finds her own strength.
Rachel Waxman is a writer, oboist, and entrepreneur. At Northwestern University she studied music and spent her Sundays writing. She has a contradictory affinity for old books, castles, and new technology and is nostalgic for the eighteenth century. A Kansas City native, she now lives and writes in New York City. The Crickhowell School for the Muses is her first book.