Just Finished: “Incarnation” by Emma Cornwall

incarnationEmmaCornwallAfter recently completing my own vampire novel, I decided to relax a bit and read one from someone else. I’ll admit that, in spite of the usual “capable girl on cover” meme that dominates paranormal fiction these days, I found the cover unusually striking, prompting me to turn it over for a look at the back. The cover text promised that Lucy, the character from Bram Stoker’s “Dracula,” awakens as a new vampire to discover the lies Mr. Stoker has spun for his so-called novel, deciding then and there to seek him out for an explanation. Sounded good to me!

While certainly alternative fiction, it wasn’t a retelling of Dracula so much as it re-envisioned the character of Lucy; even author Bram Stoker has been relgated to a character himself. What was surprising were all of the other elements introduced in the book, borrowing bits of British Empire history and legends to fuel the plot. At first, these things suggested they might overwhelm the characters with a ridiculous number of story points, but the central character of Lucy kept the story grounded and moving along.

The plot is more the stuff of court politics and sleuthing rather than repeated action sequences. Werewolves make an appearance along with cameos from a few other fantastic creatures, but the story focuses on the issues between vampires and humans in a world becoming technologically advanced (Babbage engines, Tesla carriages, and other steampunk elements fill the setting but truly contribute little to the story itself). There are reasons why Lucy was turned rather than her incarnation being just a random occurrence.

The ending contains a few surprises, but I wish the author would have been less ambiguous with what exactly happens at the end. I assume that it may have been intentionally cryptic as set up for a possible sequel, but after experiencing Lucy’s inquisitive nature throughout the story, it seemed to me she might have more questions about what really happened rather than simply be satisfied with the outcome. If you can forgive the unexpected mishmash of fae, Arthurian, and steampunk elements intruding on classic vampire fiction early on, following the thoughts and exploits of Miss Lucy Weston are reason enough to give this novel a shot.