Steampunk novelPJV Quickie: When I got this gem in the mail I literally swooned all over this cover! Can you say fabulous? And that is Lucy Westenra {Bram Stoker’s Dracula}, whom looks very much alive, instead of lying in a crypt in her wedding gown with a stake through her heart. I always did love Lucy. And now Cornwall brings Lucy into modern literature as a kick-ass vampire. Gotta love that concept.

Title: Incarnation
Series: Currently looks like a stand-alone, but has series potential
Author: Emma Cornwall
Type: Steampunk/Adult/Paranormal
Published: September 18th 2012 by Gallery Books
FTC: ARC copy provided by publisher.
Rating: 5 Stars Purchase Goodreads


I had a ton of fun on this adventure with the misrepresented Lucy Westen of Bram Stoker’s popular novel, ‘Dracula.’ The novel was set in a fictionalized Victorian England, in a steampunk environment. Yet, the steampunk was dressing and not the main theme of the novel. The main theme was decidedly paranormal, specifically vampire culture. Lucy is the victim of a vampire attack and later wakes to find herself thirsting for blood and having very disjointed memories of her past. She breaks into her family’s country home and finds a copy of ‘Dracula’ and realizes it is a very over-blown version of her own story. The book was a fantastic concept and quite unexpected for me. I’m usually not a huge fan of “retellings”, but luckily this wasn’t a retelling at all. Cornwall just used the characters and created her own story, there were no parallels with the epic ‘Dracula’ besides the concept of vampires and the character of Lucy. Bram Stoker himself does make an appearance in the book though.

Lucy was enjoyable.

What I really liked about this book was Lucy herself, her character could be described as very clinical at first. She is really nothing more than an animal when the book starts. Hunt. Eat. Sleep. She has lost her humanity and when she comes across her family home suddenly she begins to remember. The book is basically about her slowly regaining her humanity. There is also a very broad mystery behind the novel also, as Lucy tries to discover why she was made a vampire and just how deep the conspiracy goes. Along the way, Lucy discovers that the fanged, blood sucking variety are not the only paranormal creatures in this steampunk London. But, they might just be the most dangerous, especially as a shift of power seems to be on the horizon.

Steampunk World was subtle, but rich.

The world creation was also fabulously done, in ‘Incarnation.’ Cornwall depicts the steampunk backdrop in quick and easy detail, never overly descriptive, her tone was as if we were already caught up in how the world should be. I enjoyed it thoroughly. I could imagine the world as my brain depicted it, instead of being bogged down with adjectives that I can’t connect to form one picture.

Romance was lackluster.

This book was not a romance, it was a mystery, drama type scenario. The romance was only a small part of the novel, but if you are anything like me, if there is a romance, you want it to be — well — romantic. The anxiety was there, the star-crossed lover aspect was there, even the against all odds, different worlds, aspect was there. Yet, the final culmination of a romantic union was done in a whisper. I did not expect a sex scene, I just maybe expected something a little bit more. But, like Cornwall’s penchant for slight descriptions, she also implemented this within the romance. Worked for the world building, didn’t work as well as I would have liked for the romance.

Overall an imaginative and dramatic steampunk novel.

Besides a few confusing plot threads and the romance that left me wanting, the novel was a very enjoyable read. I couldn’t find any rumors that there were to be more in the series, in fact I can’t find an author web site or blog anywhere! But, the world Cornwall created was rich enough to carry a few more books. I look forward, if there is more, to reading this author again.


While, Lucy is an adult character, the book does not lean towards the usual paranormal adult trappings (no heaving bosoms or ripped corsets!). There are some adult themes, told as Lucy as a witness, but nothing she engages in. I would recommend this for a more mature reader and for fans of paranormal mysteries. With the steampunk themes of this novel being slight, this would be a good book to test out the waters as far as this genre. The thing I like about steampunk is that it gives a historical more of a modern point of view. So, you have that historical setting, but the characters are not bogged down with speaking formally and acting within the confines of the conservative past. This is definitely a book you do not want to pass up.

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