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cover of Cadenza by Justin Courter

Cadenza: A Novel, Fiction by Justin Courter

Owl Canyon Press, July 2024

At the age of seven, Jennifer Coleman is severely burned in a house fire that kills her sister. Despite the barriers of her scarred face and her tragic childhood, she reaches the pinnacle of achievement as a classical concert pianist, but at a deep psychological cost.

During Jennifer’s meteoric rise as a virtuoso pianist, her disfigurement takes on mythic proportions. She is internationally loved and admired, but unable to love herself. At a pivotal point in her career, she meets an extraordinarily creative, suicidal musician named Felix, who challenges Jennifer’s beliefs and falls deeply in love with her. Will Jennifer be able to learn from Felix’s example before she self-destructs?

Cadenza is symphonic. It succeeds not only as an absorbing, psychologically nuanced novel, but also as a tragic fable of ambition and virtuosity. Its extraordinary heroine offers profound truths about purpose, memory, trauma, and the transcendent powers of art and love.

— Lauren Acampora, author of The Hundred Waters

“An engrossing epic of artistic triumphs and personal disasters, unflinching in its depiction of scars both physical and emotional, Cadenza reads like a piano concerto playing in a house on fire.”

— Brett Marie, author of The Upsetter Blog