Series: The Incarnate Accounts: Book One
Author: Justin Schuelke
Length: 362 Pages
Category: Urban Fantasy
Rating: 5 Stars
At a Glance: I often envy those who can spin a great yarn, certainly have a ton of admiration for the skill, but Justin Schuelke, the architect of this fantastically original and imaginative story, has elevated my esteem for the art of storytelling another notch. Incarnate is one of those books that makes me want to ask where this author has been all my life.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: “Murder me once, shame on you. Murder me twice…”
Emery Luple hunts monsters, solves crimes, confronts myths, and does it all in style. So it’s downright embarrassing when he’s killed in the unforgiving desert while hunting a monster that never should have been there.
The good news? He reincarnates into a new life—and not for the first time.
The bad news? Someone knows who he is and how to kill him. Within minutes of reincarnating, he’s nearly killed again. And Emery doesn’t know anything about his murderer. All he has are his instincts and a voice in a sandstorm.
But a string of grisly murders in New York draws him back into the world of investigation, mythical creatures, and mystery. Unexpected feelings, a rival monster hunter, and supernatural beheadings soon have Emery questioning if his death isn’t a part of something bigger. Can he solve the current crimes before his murderer finds him again?
Review: “The best stories don’t end when the reading stops.”
This is it: the first contender for a spot on my Best Books of 2022 list (it was actually pubbed in 2020, but better late than never). I often envy those who can spin a great yarn, certainly have a ton of admiration for the skill, but Justin Schuelke, the architect of this fantastically original and imaginative story, has elevated my esteem for the art of storytelling another notch. The way this world is built, the way its characters are revealed, and the inclusion of the reader in the lessons Emery Luple has to teach us is utterly unsurpassed in not only its creativity, but Emery’s charm went a long way toward investing me in his adventures. I lost track of how many times I read something in Incarnate that made me grin, but let’s just say it was a lot.
“As long as the myth survives, so too does the incarnate.”
Emery’s journey begins under . . . let’s just say . . . less than auspicious circumstances. I mean, he dies, so how unfortunate can a guy be? But, and this is a big BUT, Emery is an incarnate, so he only has to wait 1,001 (yes, there’s a connection to a legend; there’s always a connection to a legend) days before he manifests again, complete with a new life and fully-formed backstory to go with it. He comes back this time as a nineteen-year-old guy complete with a mom and best friend and a successful blog, “There’s Always a Loophole,” where, ironically, he works hard to debunk all things supernatural. The explanation for why people remember Emery and have been following his blog for years—when he is, for all intents and purposes, only moments old—is one of those lovely little creative tidbits this book is rife with. I will not spoil Emery’s gig as teacher and narrator by giving you all the extraordinary and wonderous details about incarnates, nor about Emery himself. Suffice it to say, however, that he is a superior tutor, and that readers getting to accompany him on his monster hunts is a beautiful thing.
Emery has not always been reincarnated as male, which lends some unique diversity to the story. He’s has been all genders and sexualities over the centuries. He has been various ethnicities and races as well. He has loved and lost. Even though he’s just a teenager in this life, he has a wisdom and understanding that transcends that of a mere mortal, and the memories from some of those past incarnations are still alive and well in him. In fact, his most painful memory drives him and this story against the incarnate who can only be called his archnemesis. The characters of myth and legend who are introduced in Incarnate and the way Schuelke engages them not only as a part of Emery’s journey but also the way Emery introduces them to readers is part of what makes this book such a fun read.
Emery’s website is an instigator for him to leave Seattle after a certain someone tries to kill him—again—shortly after his most recent incarnation, and destroys his office in the process, but that’s not the only reason he and his best friend, Rachelle, head to New York City. There are strange things afoot and machinations being orchestrated that are out of Emery’s control, but it’s a stranger named Caden, a “long-time” fan of “There’s Always a Loophole”, who calls and asks Emery to come to New York to investigate a recent and gruesome rash of killings that gives Emery the final push to get on an airplane, adding a taut and twisty and action-packed murder investigation to this Urban Fantasy.
Caden makes an immediate impression on Emery and becomes an important part of the team, especially when Rachelle is injured nearly the moment she and Emery arrive in New York. There is such a sweet and lovely connection that grows between Caden and Emery, an undeniable and perhaps inevitable bond that becomes their love story, their own personal legend, and I loved how the confidence and assurance that they were meant to be, became its own sort of defensive shield against their foes. There is also an unrequited love angle added to the mix, which is delivered in such a sweet and touching way, and made me love both Emery and Rachelle all the more for it.
Incarnate is one of those books that makes me want to ask where this author has been all my life. I’m full speed ahead into book two of the series. Thankfully I didn’t have to leave these characters and this amazingly entertaining -verse for long.
You can buy Incarnate here:
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