Review: Incarnation by Emma Cornwall

Posted September 3, 2012 in Review / 13 Comments

By Emma Cornwall
Expected Publication September 18th, 2012
Gallery Books
352 pages
Historical Fantasy/Steampunk
Source: Received from Gallery Books through Edelweiss in exchange for an unbiased review

From Goodreads:  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.

This is going to be a tough review for me.  On one hand, I really enjoyed the story, the world, and the characters.  What an awesome concept; to take a new sideways look at a historical author and his characters.  But on the other side, I had a tough time with the execution.  The verbose language and extensive ruminations by the lead character kept tripping me up throughout the story.

Lucy Weston, a twenty-something free spirit from a well to do family in no rush to marry, wakes up buried in a wooden box with a stake through her chest.  Unfortunately, her “dreams” just before waking were distant memories fleeting in and out and she struggles to piece them together.  While coping with her new hunger, animal instincts and loss of family, she stumbles upon Bram Stoker’s extremely popular novel that details her life and demise in a rather exaggerated fashion.  To get to the truth of her situation, Lucy sets out to find this Bram Stoker.

When I first saw the synopsis of this book, it wasn’t the Bram Stoker angle that drew me in.  Indeed, I was kind of surprised by how little he showed up in the book.  He was briefly there in the beginning but made up for it in spades with his performance at the book’s ending.  Nor was it the steampunk-ish setting of 1897.  I actually liked the light “dribbling” of steampunk technologies newly evolving in Lucy Weston’s world.  It added a really cool backdrop for the darkness of the story without overwhelming the vampire tale.

What I wanted to read about was the story of a newly made vampire trying to find her way in the new world of supernaturals and the life she has been dealt.  Can you say, “world turned completely upside down”?  Emma Cornwall delivered an awesome tale – Really!  Lucy has no clue what she is and has to figure it all out while at the same time trying to determine the vampire rules, who her allies and enemies are, and reconcile her previous “life’s” memories.  Add in a little political intrigue and secret sects and I really loved the story!

It was the political aspects of the time period that I think tripped up the story.  Lucy spent a lot of time explaining the political atmosphere and the players in the game and in the end, those ruminations didn’t mean much to the overall plot.  It just got a little verbose in those sections and I ended up just skipping over them.  I try not to do that often. 

Also, Lucy’s pensive thoughts of life before “vampire” just didn’t grab me.  I think it just happened too often when she should have been plotting and taking action.  It’s probably just me, though.  This was a new type of book for me, being a historical/fantasy/steampunk novel, I might be comparing it too closely to an urban fantasy and the speed and action of those.  So take my ruminations with a grain of salt!!  If you look at the other reviews, a lot of people really like this book.  I loved it!  I’m just not in love with it….

I did like the little bit of romance thrown in.  This is not a romance novel, by any means, but it added a nice tension to the storyline and ultimately, an ending I wasn’t expecting.  Will I be reading the next book, if there is one?  HELL YEAH!!  I want to see where the romance goes!! 

When all was said and done, Emma Cornwall spun a great tale and built an amazing world that has so many opportunities where it can go for future books.  And with its ending…  wow, I must have more!!  Just please go easy on the long speeches, okay?

By the way, there is a Goodreads giveaway for Incarnation that ends September 5th, 2012.  If you’re in time, run to this LINK for a chance at 1 of 14 copies. 

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About Kristin

Kristin has to ensure she gets her minimal requirement of "happily ever after" books in between those books that contain cliffhangers and never-ending story arcs. It's for her family's sake. When not reading, she's homeshooling her 10-year old son, watching cartoons on TV, or taking a nap.

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13 responses to “Review: Incarnation by Emma Cornwall

  1. Lili

    So I can finally see why you gave it the rating you did! And as you said, I am still full of excitement for this book. *crosses fingers that I’ll manage to actually save money before the next time I hit the book store instead of spending it all on lunch money now that school has started back up* I can see how the political aspects of the novel may trip you up, though. And in all honesty, I feel as if they may do the same to me. I really dislike politics in books for the mere purpose that they require so much explanation that it’s either a lot of rambling or mind-numbing paragraph after mind-numbing paragraph.

    I also like the bit of romance thrown in! I love romance, but I don’t read novels purely for the romance. However, if I can read about an awesome heroine who has a small romantic sub-plot, I’m satisfied. Romance really can add something emotional and entertaining to a tale if written well.

    You have made me all the more excited for this book! Awesome review! <3

    • K

      I think you’ll still LOVE it!! The political stuff was really to set the tone and scenery. I just wasn’t a fan of the author taking 4 sentences to say what could have been said in one. But since I’m not an author, what the heck do I know? Not a lot!!! 🙂

    • K

      I didn’t fall in love with Immortal Rules like everyone else so this book review was hard to write like that one. It’s almost like, do I write it? This is my OWN opinion. It’s really a great story, worth reading, esp. if she’s going to write more!

    • K

      I just wish I knew if there would be a second one. It’s so closed AND open-ended! Grrrrr… It’s impossible to find authors with nom de plumes…

  2. Oh man, I have such high hope for this one. Between the cover and synopsis, I was really looking forward to it. I might have to think about this one. Great review.

    Jenea @ Books Live Forever

    • K

      See! I don’t want people to not read this book! It really is a great story and I’m curious what everyone else thinks. Right now, there just aren’t a lot of reviews out there. If anything, get it from the library 😉

  3. Well you love it but you aren’t in love with it.. that is crystal clear! verbose language like words that you have to look up on the kindle and you think…no one uses that word…write with a thesauarus? Still I am intrigued and I would like to check it out!

    • K

      I am a vertible plethora of big words that I always use incorrectly and blurt out to sound all big and important (tee, hee!) I actually wrote the word “verbose” down on my notes while I was reading! “Ruminations” came out of my head during notetaking, too! Ohio State pays off for once!

      Ah, c’mon! You never loved a guy but not been IN love with him, like NOT all romantic, fawning over and worshipping the ground he walks on? Okay, I’ll give you, clear as mud… how about like a lot vs. love? :D?
      K recently posted…New Cover Love: The Unnaturals by Jessica Meigs