Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Incarnate by A.C. Ruttan

TITLE: Incarnate
AUTHOR: A.C. Ruttan
LENGTH: Novel (roughly 84k)
GENRE: Urban fantasy
COST: $5.50

As an Incarnate, Cia’s main job is to protect the portal she guards. But when her Warden gives her the job to find another Incarnate suspected of numerous murders, she takes it. Because the other Incarnate is Arthur, the husband she hasn’t seen in ten years. Finding him isn’t difficult, but finding out what is really going on, why a symbol only he would use is showing up on dead bodies, is another matter entirely…

My summary is woefully inadequate, as is, honestly, much of anything I could write. This was a densely constructed urban fantasy, playing with religious themes like angels, Heaven and Hell, and demons, that try to blend/merge with a plethora of historical references. The end result was a confusing mishmash that could’ve been so much more.

So I’m not going to even try summarizing this. There are twists and turns galore, so what I would say would get trumped within a few chapters anyway because I’m reluctant to give spoilers. But therein lies its greatest flaws. In its attempt to convey this complex world, it gets mired in too many flashbacks and too many information dumps to get the point across. The best parts were the action sequences because the story actually moves along at those points. Luckily, there were enough of those to keep me reading rather than giving up after the first third. (The fact that there are editorial inconsistencies don’t help, i.e. Arthur’s eyes changing color while he’s human when he doesn’t have souls anymore.)

Characterizations get lost in the world-building, too. Cia fares the best, but even hers is lacking. Incarnates have two souls, and frankly, her older soul is far more developed than she ever was. I couldn’t tell you much about who Cia really was, but I could write reams on Boudicca. Arthur is more interesting in demon form, mostly because when he’s human, he comes across as a block of wood. These two are supposed to be in love, but I didn’t feel it until close to the end. A whole host of supporting characters flit through the pages, but because their various roles are so muddy for most of the story, it’s hard to really care about any of them, either. The one thing that got me through to the end was simply the need to discover how it all turned out, but even then, I’m pretty sure I don’t have it straight.

I do know, however, I won’t be bothering with the second book. None of the characters were interesting enough to follow, the author’s reliance on flashbacks as a narrative device was tedious, and the lack of clarity as the story attempts to construct its world was too frustrating to overcome.


6/10 – Editorial inconsistencies and too many flashbacks made this more of a chore than it had to be


4/10 – More interesting as a demon, but still lacked much of anything to really capture me


6/10 – Her older soul’s personality was stronger than hers

Entertainment value

4/10 – I finished because I was curious about how it played out, not because I cared

World building

7/10 – While it’s obvious a lot of care/attention has gone into it, it’s not conveyed efficiently



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