Review: Incarnate by Anton Strout

Incarnate by Anton Strout
Series: The Spellmason Chronicle (# 3)
Release Date:  September 30, 2014
Publisher: Ace
Pages: 320
Source: book provided by the publisher for review

 

 

When Alexandra Belarus discovered her family’s secret ability to breathe life into stone, she uncovered an entire world of magic hidden within New York City—a world she has accidentally thrown into chaos. A spell gone awry has set thousands of gargoyles loose upon Manhattan, and it’s up to Lexi and her faithful protector, Stanis, to put things right.

But the stress of saving the city is casting a pall over Lexi and Stanis’s relationship, driving them to work separately to solve the problem. As Stanis struggles to unite the gargoyle population, Lexi forges unlikely alliances with witches, alchemists and New York’s Finest to quell an unsettling uprising led by an ancient and deadly foe long thought vanquished.

To save her city, Lexi must wield more power than ever before with the added hope of recovering a mysterious artifact that could change her world—and bring her closer to Stanis than she ever thought possible…

 

Review: The third and final book of the Spellmason Chronicle series, Incarnate left me wanting more. Not in the this-book-isn’t-very-good way, but in the when-is-the-next-book-coming kind of way. The best kind of way.

The book follows Alexandra and her posse around Manhattan, chasing gargoyles and dodging wizards. Stanis, the gargoyle, is coping with becoming a leader of people now found trapped in their own bodies of stone, and spends much of the book trying to balance helping out other gargoyles and helping out Alexandra et al. Towards the middle of the novel, we learn that a rival group of gargoyles is forming under a big baddie wizard, and our heroes must team up to fight off the coming onslaught.

While the prior two novels mostly revolved around the Spellmasonry aspect of the magical world (and, to a lesser degree, Alchemy), this novel finally blows open the entire underground magic scene in the Spellmason universe. The author has us meeting numerous wizards and witches, and in one scene I was secretly giddy that witches were actually riding around on broomsticks. There is more gore in this book as well, so if rooms full of blood used for selfish magic make you queasy, this probably isn’t a book for you.

The unfortunate downsides, however, hit home a little hard for me. A lot of the conversations between the characters feel unnatural and choppy. This forced me out of the story on numerous occasions, but seemed to happen more the later this book went on. This may, however, tie into the heroine, Alexandra. Throughout the entire book, she is frayed, frazzled, and generally worn out. She bemoans the fact that she hasn’t had any time to work on her real art, and by the end of the book, still no art. She’s constantly angry at everything and everyone around her, flying off the hook at little remarks, and it felt very forced in places. My last complaint is that the end of the book felt incredibly rushed. I found myself near the end of the book, with about 30 pages or so, and couldn’t see the end coming. It wraps up terribly quickly, and left me feeling a little gypped.

Overall, however, this is definitely a book I enjoyed. I found I had a hard time putting it down. It starts out slow, but picks up pace quickly. The author also did a good job of allowing this book to breathe on its own. You could pick up this book without any of the prior books in the series, and not miss a thing. Also, this book finally delivered on something I had been expecting since page one of book one: a little gargoyle/human romance. I’d definitely recommend this series to anyone who enjoys a good read.

 

Justin