Title: Loophole Ex Machina
Series: Incarnate Accounts: Book Two
Author: Justin Schuelke
Length: 364 Pages
Category: Urban Fantasy
Rating: 5 Stars
At a Glance: This series is, in some really delightful ways, like nothing I’ve read before, and yet it’s familiar in the sense that we rest reasonably assured the heroes will prevail in the battle of good versus evil. Familiar does not, in any way, equal predictable, though, and that’s what has made this fantastical world and its characters so much fun to become acquainted with.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: “There’s Always a Loophole.”
Months after the Ahedrian murders, Emery Luple’s back in Seattle living his normal life. Which is anything but normal. As an incarnate—an urban legend come to life—his day job is to debunk the very existence of his kind to keep them safe from the world at large.
So when he’s contacted to debunk a legend about a gateway to the underworld in a local cemetery, Emery never stops to consider he might be in over his head. He’s more concerned with trying to keep date night plans with Caden while contending with the return of ancient enemies, his own unpredictable powers, and incarnate abductions.
But people start dying, and Emery and those he loves are in danger. As events begin to snowball out of control, he realizes he’ll need to find a solution—or at least a loophole—to save Caden and himself from horrible deaths.
Review: I love the title of this book. I’m sure the deus ex machina can be tricky for an author to pull off successfully because there’s no guarantee each and every reader is going to willingly suspend belief and buy into it (we’ve all been there). The fantastic thing about the world Justin Schuelke has crafted in the Incarnate Accounts series, and in Emery Luple as our teacher and guide through all the danger and excitement in his life—lives, rather—is that all those little “god from the machine” moments he experiences are inherent to him by right of his incarnate powers. It’s not as if Emery asks us to believe in as many as six impossible things before breakfast. We just do. These things aren’t contrivances thrown in to make things easy or convenient for him; they’re his strength, his defense, and sometimes . . . well, sometimes they’re also his weakness.
I have bought into this fantasy with every ounce of my ability to imagine the world Schuelke has crafted. This series is, in some really delightful ways, like nothing I’ve read before, and yet it’s familiar in the sense that we rest reasonably assured the heroes will prevail in the battle of good versus evil. Familiar does not, in any way, equal predictable, though, and that’s what has made this fantastical world and its characters so much fun to become acquainted with. I’ve been kept in a cycle of grinning or wowing or being surprised by some twist or revelation on nearly every page so far.
Loophole Ex Machina brings the action back to Seattle after Emery, his business partner and best friend, Rachelle, and his new incarnate boyfriend, Caden, solved the mystery of the Ahedrian murders in New York City. But no sooner are they settled in than Emery is called out on not one but two cases which eventually intersect, bringing Emery’s past and present together in some cruel and treacherous ways. Suffice it to say it’s the human “monsters” who deliver the danger in this installment, but they’re the least of the most interesting characters introduced. Schuelke had more tricks up his sleeve than he let on in Incarnate, and he dug a little deeper into the bounty that is legend and myth to deliver some more incarnates to enliven and enrich the story. A few of whom introduced some sci-fi/cyberpunk elements to the mystery that I didn’t even know I wanted or needed until it was right there in front of me.
I think there’s a real art to delivering a balanced story that is at once based in death and danger and, at times, some all-out explosive mayhem, and yet still being able to say that story is so warm and sweet and touching. There is more of that in Loophole Ex Machina, not only in Emery and Caden’s relationship but in Emery’s relationship with his mom, and with Rachelle, who is fierce and I love her to bits. The longer Emery exists in this incarnation, the more the memories of his past lives surface. Some of those memories are brutally painful and serve as a reminder of how much he loses every time he dies and comes back as Emery but still someone different. There’s a new character introduced who plays a role in the mystery Rachelle and Emery are investigating for their vlog, “There’s Always a Loophole”, and it looks like Matt “Matlas” Atlas may be around for a while now, based on all the flirting he and Rachelle were doing. He’s a great add to an already outstanding cast, and is himself a Debunker, aka a “long-time” fan of Emery and Rachelle’s work.
There are changes afoot for the incarnates of Seattle, new alliances forged with those who are willing and interested in making the city a place of sanctuary for all incarnates, which means they won’t be so alone and isolated anymore thanks to Caden’s kind and gentle nature and his idea to make a community for them all. Whether it works out remains to be seen. But book three being titled Literal Demons for sure means there will be some chaos to challenge them. I’m looking forward to seeing what’s in store next!
You can buy Loophole Ex Machina here:
[zilla_button url=”https://books2read.com/Loophole-Ex-Machina” style=”black” size=”large” type=”round” target=”_blank”] Amazon & Other eTailers [/zilla_button]