Set in recognisably human times, the Violinist by CR Tyra tells a story of monsters and those they prey upon. For a society protected by music, the monsters exist in two perspectives; we see them in terms of dread and in memories – the fear of their return and the idea that just at the periphery of this world are monsters; and in the second we the monsters from their own perspective as a part of the reality that is centuries into an alternative future. I found the dread far more engaging than the actual monsters who were perhaps too ordinary.
The Violinist is Lucien Mooncaster, a musician or more specifically, a violinist. His family’s history has borne a recluse happier lost in books and music than dealing with the people around him. The Violinist is a mash-up of eras. It blends the past, present and future to create a fantasy world the Tyra brings to life with vivid descriptions of its architecture, flora and people. Inserts such as “Lucien remembered the countless hours spent reading of the dismal fate of the first age of mankind” quite cleverly give us clues to how our world and this one are related. There’s also a Stradivarius violin described in such detail that the reader can picture it perfectly.
The Violinist works well as a horror story and Tyra’s writing style extends its appeal – its style is literary and descriptive. In fact, the author says via email, the subject matter of the book grew and developed over time but originally spurred from his love for both dark fantasy themes and Greek mythology. He decided to blend the two influences after hearing Chopin’s Nocturne opus 72 # 1, which inspired the musical themes of the novel.
I’d recommend this book to lovers of The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova and Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke.