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Creative Spirit by Scott Nicholson
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Jan 15, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: formal-review, 5-stars, book-of-the-month-finalists, january-2012
Read in January, 2012

Click here to read the full review as it originally appeared on our blog.

We’ve all seen the set up before: A small group of strangers are invited to an opulent mansion beyond the reaches of civilization. They get to know each other, somebody dies, strange events ensue, then the waiter comes around with dessert.

“Creative Spirit” is anything but bad dinner theatre.

The book opens with an introduction to the frantic Sylva. She’s going to the home of Ephram Korban: land baron and occult figure. We get a brief glimpse of the enigmatic Korban as his strange powers emerge and fade into flame.

We are then thrown into the modern day mountains of NC, where artists both legitimate and delusional meet for a retreat. Some are present because of charity, others because of the enormous wealth they possess. At the end of the day it will not matter. The mansion has a life all its own. It possesses others with its spirit, which tends to make the artists far better than they are, and deceive them into thinking that they are the source of their genius.

At its heart, “Creative Spirit” is a morality play that rails against the twin sins of Vanity and Pride. One can only imagine the author returning from yet another party full of stuffed shirts and pretension to a beckoning keyboard. It is there he displays the horror of these vices for all to see: A pompous writer on the verge of obsolescence returns to the mansion to regain his standing as a literary genius. A humble sculptor is transformed from a charity case into a dreamer driven to obsessive madness by the promise of fame. The spirit of the mysterious Korban occupies this atmosphere, seemingly guiding these artists to heights previously unknown. To what end?

Amidst all this, Anna stumbles through the twilight of her dreams and treads on ground that is both unstable and eerily familiar. Why does she feel so connected to the mansion? Is there a reason it feels like home? Unlike the others, she seeks neither fame nor fortune. Rather, she searches for the answers to her questions, so that she can enjoy the short time she has remaining and die in peace.

The remaining cast of characters is fantastic, which is one of the factors that separates a book that is simply “ok” from a book I recommend. Even the most minor characters are well used, and make their appearance at the right time to push the story forward. Boy, does this story move, through reality, imagination, and things that stubbornly refuse to acknowledge the border between the two.

If could use one word to describe this book, it would be “balanced”. Mystery gives equal time to humor. Horror gives way to humanity. The dialogue blends effortlessly with description. This book is pure fun. The plot twists are unexpected. Nicholson will make you the victim of your own reason. I mentally flogged myself for falling victim to this misdirection many times.

Overall, “Creative Spirit” deserves the 5 stars I am giving it. It is creepy in the best way possible: It avoids cheap thrills through the use of character development, and builds a feeling of true suspense and dread.

This was my first Scott Nicholson book, and I can give you good odds that it won’t be my last.
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Mallory Heart Recommends Excellent review, and thank you! I've been a fan of Scott since the first of his novels I've been fortunate to read, "The Farm," and "The Red Church." Now I buy anything he writes. I have "Creative Spirit," but haven't read it yet. Now I'll move it to the top of my TBR list!


Indie Books List Just so you know, this title was originally published as "The Manor" back in 2004. It's a reissue. Thought I'd let you know, since you've been reading his work for so long. Glad you enjoyed the review. Thanks for your comments...~Jack


Mallory Heart Recommends Thanks, Jack! Actually I haven't been reading Scott that long-I just happened to "discover" him a few months ago and those were the first two novels of his I'd read. So I got "Creative Spirit" from my currently favourite bookseller, Amazon Kindle.:) I'll be reviewing all of his eventually-it's just that there's so many books, and only one set of eyes and one brain here.:)


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