Review: Incarnation by Emma Cornwall

Emma Cornwall
Series: None
Release Date: September 18th, 2012
Publisher: Gallery Books
Number of Pages: 352
Source: Edelweiss
Rating: 4 of 5 stars 

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In the steampunk world of Victorian London, a beautiful vampire seeks out the author of Dracula–to set the record straight . . . If one is to believe Bram Stoker’s legendary vampire tale, Lucy Weston is Dracula’s most wanton creation, a sexual creature of the night who preys on innocent boys. But the real-life Lucy is nothing like her fictional counterpart—and she demands to know why the Victorian author deliberately lied. With Stoker’s reluctant help, she’s determined to track down the very fiend who transformed her—from the sensual underworld where humans vie to become vampires, to a hidden cell beneath a temple to madness, and finally into the glittering Crystal Palace where death reigns supreme.

Haunted by fragmentary memories of her lost life and love, Lucy must battle her thirst for blood as she struggles to stop a catastrophic war that will doom vampires and humans alike. Ultimately, she must make a choice that illuminates for her—and for us—what it means to be human.
"Look in the skies above you," he said. "With each passing day, we are under ever more surveillance for no better reason than that men live in fear and suspicions of each other. Our technology outstrips our ability to reason or even to care. Walk the shortest distance beyond the better areas of this city and you will find degradation and suffering that defy description. The inhumanity of man is also part of being human."

So rarely does a paranormal novel such as Incarnation come along and effect me so emotionally, and the amount of heart this novel had beneath its vampiric elements really came as a shock to me, albeit in the best way possible. Incarnation is the black sheep among the current trend of vampire novels hitting the shelves, in that it's original, doesn't recycle other novels of the genre's storylines, and that it's actually good.

Lucy Weston finds herself buried deep underground, with a stake in her chest, and almost no memory of how she in the ground, how she got a stake in her chest, or, more importantly, who put the stake in her chest. Digging out of her own grave, Lucy finds herself in Victorian London, while the classic novel, Dracula, is newly published. Having nothing better to do, Lucy decides to read Dracula, only to find that the entire novel is just a rehashed version of her death. On a mission to find the author of Dracula, Bram Stoker, and the being who turned her from the young human she once was to the monster she currently is, Lucy soon finds herself deeper in the world of the supernatural than she ever intended to be.

I don't know if I could possibly put my feelings for Incarnation into words. Normally, novels set in the past don't interest me very much, Victorian time periods being one of those time periods that don't normally work for me, but Incarnation is having me rethink my stance on novels set in Victorian times. The world we're introduced to in Incarnation, while a bit light on the steampunk, is stunning and richly detailed, and the world-building we're provided with is entrancing and beautiful. Cornwall's prose, while at times a bit full of info-dumps, is completely and utterly breathtaking, and I highlighted many passages while reading the novel just because they were so gorgeously written.

The characters in Incarnation are incredibly well-written and well developed, and the plot is extremely original and captivating, with a few twists and turns along the way. You won't find any of the common tropes you would find in most vampire novels when reading Incarnation, and that, among other things, is what will make Incarnation stand out in the midst of vampire novels. As well as that, the romance in Incarnation is well developed, and, for once, does not overshadow the plot, but instead takes a backseat to it.

And I notice this review barely brushes upon the aspects of Incarnation, but that's because I truly am at a loss for words with this novel. Upon first look, Incarnation might seem like just another vampire novel, but, through deeper introspection, it is truly about a young woman struggling to find her true self in an instance where such a thing seems impossible, and for that, I love it. If you have any doubts when it comes to reading Incarnation, borrow it from a friend, or from the library. It may just surprise you, just like it surprised me.

Yet as I drifted deeper into sleep, ravens cawed and wolves howled, vampires showed their fangs and humans bared their throats to be bled while off in the distance great engines roared and steam shot into the sky where soot fell as tears, baptizing the new age.


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