INCARNATE (New Soul #1)
Available January 31st
Received from publisher for review
THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Ana is new. For thousands of years in Range, a million souls have been reincarnated over and over, keeping their memories and experiences from previous lifetimes. When Ana was born, another soul vanished, and no one knows why.
Even Ana’s own mother thinks she’s a nosoul, an omen of worse things to come, and has kept her away from society. To escape her seclusion and learn whether she’ll be reincarnated, Ana travels to the city of Heart, but its citizens are suspicious and afraid of what her presence means. When dragons and sylph attack the city, is Ana to blame?
Sam believes Ana’s new soul is good and worthwhile. When he stands up for her, their relationship blooms. But can he love someone who may live only once, and will Ana’s enemies—human and creature alike—let them be together? Ana needs to uncover the mistake that gave her someone else’s life, but will her quest threaten the peace of Heart and destroy the promise of reincarnation for all?
Deeply intriguing and beautifully told, Incarnate brings to life a world of fantasy that–for all its differences and its paranormal qualities–manages to highlight an inherent flaw we often don’t like to recognize in ourselves or others when confronted directly with it. Ana, being the only newsoul in a place where the same one million souls have been born again and again for five thousand years, is the epitome of an outcast, and through her eyes we see the disdain, the fear, and the distrust someone who’s different elicits in those who believe they possess the one and only indisputable view of how things should be. Seeing such blatant prejudice portrayed in a way that’s so different from our reality but also so horrifyingly familiar strikes a poignant cord in us as we wish for nothing more than the ability to leap into the pages and assume a supportive position behind, in front of, or beside Ana with the few others who see her as human not anathema.
Ana is a young woman who has our support from page one, her loneliness as visible and as palpable as if she wore it as a cloak about her shoulders and stood in front of us with every vulnerability spelled out on her sleeve, allowing us instant access to the depths of her character with no holds barred. Despite her fear of the unknown, she sets out for Heart with purpose and hope, the horrors of her childhood with an emotionally and physically abusive parent not fully corrupting her faith that not everyone will see her as Li does. At times her suspicions of Sam’s motives and her uncanny ability to read too much into what is said start to irk us, but just as they do we remember that for the past eighteen years her only social contact has been with a woman whose interactions with her have dripped with derision–sharp words wielded as weapons meant to inflict wounds deep enough to scar but shallow enough to ensure she would survive them to endure the torture another day.
Ana’s relationship with Sam is both sorrowful and indescribably wistful at the same time, beginning as a fragile friendship that slowly grows into something greater as trust becomes more than a simple word tossed out to force a tenuous bond, and then quietly transforming into a tangible thing that has been earned with limitless patience and increasing desire. Their actions are never hurried, Ana’s understandable hesitancy to believe the reality of what’s happening between them and Sam’s fear that she’ll continue to misinterpret his feelings for her creating a chasm of space between them emotionally despite there only ever being feet between them physically. Ever-present while reading is an incessant tug in our bellies, a slow twisting that by the end has us thoroughly tangled in knots as tension between the two of them ebbs and flows at the perfect pace to keep us on edge the entire way through.
The only mild complaint is a common one for first books in a series, a great deal of questions and wide open musings plaguing us as we reach the last page, but we are blissfully left without a gut-punching cliffhanger. We definitely want to know more about the few revelations we’re given in the concluding chapters, however, we look forward to the next books with a sense of optimistic curiosity instead of wild desperation, something that will surely make the wait in between books far more bearable.