Title: Literal Demons
Series: The Incarnate Accounts: Book Three
Author: Justin Schuelke
Length: 406 Pages
Category: Urban Fantasy
Rating: 5 Stars
At a Glance: Literal Demons had my pulse ratcheted up to eleven so many times. There were at least two times that I had to close the book and take a minute to process the bombs the author dropped on me; they were each leveled with such strategic precision and hit exactly the way they were meant to. This series has gotten better, richer, with each book and investigation.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: “Everyone has demons. If you’re lucky, they stay on the inside.”
The Incarnate Watch: a collection of urban myths banding together for safety, camaraderie, a place to belong. Caden is determined to build something that will last, even through multiple lifetimes. And Emery Luple, the best boyfriend the world has ever seen, will do everything he can to make sure Caden succeeds.
If only murder wouldn’t keep getting in the way. This time it’s mortals who are dying, likely at the hands of an incarnate, and the deaths threaten to undermine the Watch before it even gets started. As Emery investigates, he unearths old enemies and new nightmares. And, worst of all, a former lover with secrets Emery will do anything to bury.
The Watch is in jeopardy, and Caden’s dreams are on the line. Will Emery’s past demons—both literal and metaphorical—destroy everything he and Caden have worked to create?
Review: It’s not often that the possibility exists for an author to play a character in their own book. I’m not saying that’s happened. I’m not saying it’s destined to happen. The fact that it has the opportunity to happen, though, is yet another one of the exquisite little morsels of something a bit different Justin Schuelke has added to this world of immortals he’s created. Three books into the Incarnate Accounts, and I still haven’t learned not to underestimate the ways in which Emery Luple and company will shock and surprise me.
Caden Malek, Emery’s boyfriend, has an ambitious goal: to create an incarnate Watch and turn Seattle into a sanctuary city for all incarnates to peacefully coexist, which is not the norm for them due to a variety of mitigating factors, not the least of which is that some incarnates are just plain sinister. One does not expect a scorpion to resist its nature, as the fable goes, yes? So there are some built-in challenges to opening arms to one and all. Things seem to be headed in a positive direction . . . or would have been if not for two incarnates teaming up with others to cause trouble for Emery, and for no other reason than it’s in their nature to do so. Well, that and the fact that every good story needs conflict, and every protagonist needs an antagonist or two to keep things interesting. Things got so interesting in this installment of the series.
Morrigan—yes, that Morrigan, the Morrigan—is Emery’s forever archnemesis. They have dogged each other’s steps through however many millennia they’ve existed, and they’ve taken turns killing each other in every incarnation in which they’ve reunited. In this version of themselves, Morrigan wants to seize control of the Watch from Caleb for her own nefarious purposes, something Emery is not about to let happen, and she’s not above cheating and lying and being every kind of underhanded she can be to do it. That also conveniently happens to be when Emery’s ex, Nyx Ebon, who also happens to be the Incubus, shows up to cause no small amount of trouble. Neither Morrigan nor Nyx are constrained by anything so pesky as rules or a conscience or boundaries, and they will use any trick or weapon in their arsenal to get what they want, and Morrigan has a rather significant ace up her sleeve to ensure she gets what she wants. And Nyx, well, all he wants is Emery.
Literal Demons had my pulse ratcheted up to eleven so many times. There were at least two times that I had to close the book and take a minute to process the bombs the author dropped on me; they were each leveled with such strategic precision and hit exactly the way they were meant to. This installment reveals so much more about Emery and his pasts, plural, and brings home how much he loses upon each death. The price of all those deaths is incalculable, and the longer he remains in this incarnation, the more he gains to lose.
The plurality that is Emery’s life has begun to infiltrate the present, which means he sometimes has a difficult time discerning the multitudes of who he has been and who he presently is, as if his body and mind are overtaken by the hum of dozens of voices and the pull of actions that are and yet are not his own. This works in his favor at some opportune moments, but then he comes close to losing himself to a vengeful rage that would have cost him more than he could afford to give. This scene was written with the full expression of emotion and the intensity the moment deserved. The aftermath of what led to this, however, is yet to be determined. One thing seems certain: everything is going according to Morrigan’s plan.
The emotional hits in Literal Demons felt a bit heavier than in the previous books, with one murder in particular hitting so hard. Whether it’s because I’m more invested in the characters or if it’s just that Justin Schuelke expended maximum talent to make this so, I’m not sure. Could be both. It’s probably both. This series has gotten better, richer, with each book and investigation. Based on the way things ended, the fourth promises to deliver so many more surprises.
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