Thursday, September 13, 2012

Incarnation by Emma Cornwall

Title: Incarnation
Author: Emma Cornwall
Publisher: Gallery Books
Release Date: September 18, 2012
Pages: 352 pages (paperback)
How I Got the Book: ARC from the publisher via Edelweiss
Purchase/Pre-order: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

Lucy Weston tracks down the novelist Bram Stroker in her search to reveal the dark force who made her a vampire—and regain her humanity in the process.

In the steampunk world of Victorian London, Lucy Weston, a character in Dracula, seeks out Bram Stoker to discover why he deliberately lied about her in his popular novel. With Stoker’s reluctant help, she tracks the creature 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 battles her thirst for blood as she struggles to stop a catastrophic war that will doom vampires and humans alike. Ultimately, she makes a choice that illuminates for her—and for us—the true nature of what it means to be human.


Though I primarily read young adult novels, I'm no stranger to adult novels and enjoy them just as much. It's nice to have an occasional break from the teenage dramatics inherent to many YA novels, you know? As big a Dracula/vampire fan as I am (but I was not a fan of the cover the edition of Dracula I had as a child possessed; I wish I had a picture of it to show off, but I don't), I expected Incarnation and its highly original idea to draw me in and never let go, but there was something off about everything.

Cornwall's idea is fantastic and I love everything about it. The idea of Dracula being a piece of propaganda twisting and concealing the truth of vampires and the fate of Lucy Westenra (her real name being Lucy Weston) was what grabbed my attention in the first place and the way the author expanded on it kept me reading. The expansions made throughout the novel to include the Protectors, who safeguard humans from vampires, Slayers born every thousand years to cull the vampire population, and the precarious balance humans and vampires have in Victorian England aren't necessarily new, but the way in which Cornwall employs and describes them makes them feel like something of their own. Moderately fine pacing kept the story moving and unraveled the plots each side was planning in order to defeat the other.

What feels so off about the novel is that I didn't have any emotional investment and there doesn't seem to be much passion in the novel. I respond to a passionately written novel by diving headfirst into it and caring about what happens to each and every character like they're my family, but there was no such connection to Incarnation. Lucy is sympathetic as she struggles with her nature and the differences that set her apart from other vampires, but she didn't truly earn sympathy from me; I just knew that was how I was supposed to feel. The steampunk element seems like more of an afterthought than anything--which I didn't mind, as someone who doesn't care much for it, but readers coming in expecting more steampunk will be disappointed.

The way the novel leaves off, there is easily room for a sequel, though I don't know if there will be one. My Googling skills haven't turned up anything yet, and if there were a sequel, I'm not sure whether I'd read it or not. Fellow Dracula and vampire fans looking for a new twist on a familiar story will enjoy Incarnation and perhaps they will respond to it better than I did.

3 stars!

What am I reading next?: Fall for Anything by Courtney Summers