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Taking as his inspiration the real-life 14th-century figures of Nicholas Flamel and wife Perenelle, Leigh (Dark Water's Embrace) tells a story of love and hate spanning centuries. Both Perenelle and Nicholas pursue alchemical secrets, but Perenelle ultimately discovers an elixir that grants immortality. It has unpredictable side effects, however, causing Perenelle to need the creativity of artists to sustain her. The story is mainly told within a modern time period when Perenelle, now known as Camille, meets a talented young photographer and becomes his muse. Interspersed are chapters detailing some of the other luminaries that Perenelle inspires through the centuries, such as Antonio Vivaldi and Gustav Klimt. But Nicholas always finds her, determined to learn the secret to re-creating the elixir. VERDICT Sweeping in scope and full of action and danger, this well-constructed historical fantasy takes an original look at the nature of creativity. If Nicholas is slightly mustache-twirly in his evilness, the compelling "immortal muse" Perenelle more than compensates.