I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started reading Emma Cornwall’s Incarnation. The blurb was interesting enough, and since I loved Dracula, Incarnation looked like it would be a cool twist on that classic story. Unfortunately, nothing about Incarnation caught my interest. I ended up putting the book down about halfway through it, and then I just never picked it up again.
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.
Incarnation was one big cliché after another: a young, hapless girl changed unknowingly/unwillingly into a vampire, then forced into the supernatural world to find who transformed her. The steampunk setting and the Arthurian legends that were intertwined with the history of vampires were different but not enough for me to see past the clichés.
There was nothing overtly unique about Lucy. She was perfectly content to live alone until she discovered Bram Stoker’s book, Dracula, and the almost accurate telling of how she became a vampire. She hunted him down and discovered that there was a whole world of vampires and other supernatural creatures. She blithely walked around, not sure who was good and who was evil, but wanting to fit in nonetheless. Sometimes she acted like an idiot and other times she acted like she had a master plan. Both aspects of her personality annoyed me because she never had a definitive personality.
Because I gave up on Incarnation, I can’t say much about the plot. It had an incredibly slow start but after that, it was just more of the same: Lucy unsure of what to do; Lucy whining about what’s been done to her; Lucy deciding she knows best. There were a handful of fight scenes that were a welcome break to the monotony. (I have to admit, Lucy can kick some butt when she puts her mind to it.)
The worst part of the entire story was that Cornwall never really described the scenery. I know that seems kind of random but because this was a Steampunk book, I figured she might try to help build her world by describing what it looked like. Instead, it seemed like there was nothing too terribly out of the ordinary except when it affected the main characters.
Incarnation was a weird combination of uniqueness and an abundance of clichés. While the clichés were annoying to the point that I gave up on the story, I’m sure there are plenty of readers out there who like that type of story. (They are a cliché for a reason, right?) So, if steampunk and/or clichéd vampires are your thing, you’ll probably enjoy Incarnation.