by Jodi Meadows
Ana is new. For thousands of years in Range, a million souls have been reincarnated over and over, keeping their memories and experiences from previous lifetimes. When Ana was born, another soul vanished, and no one knows why.
Even Ana’s own mother thinks she’s a nosoul, an omen of worse things to come, and has kept her away from society. To escape her seclusion and learn whether she’ll be reincarnated, Ana travels to the city of Heart, but its citizens are suspicious and afraid of what her presence means. When dragons and sylph attack the city, is Ana to blame?
Sam believes Ana’s new soul is good and worthwhile. When he stands up for her, their relationship blooms. But can he love someone who may live only once, and will Ana’s enemies—human and creature alike—let them be together? Ana needs to uncover the mistake that gave her someone else’s life, but will her quest threaten the peace of Heart and destroy the promise of reincarnation for all?
Jodi Meadows’ debut novel Incarnate is the first book in the New Soul trilogy. This fantasy offers a unique world filled with dragons, sylphs and a city called Heart. The tale has danger, battles, suspense, romance, a divine being, mystery, and intrigue. Book one centers around the romance of Ana and Sam; as we are spoon-fed details about the world in which they live. While at times I found this frustrating, it was enough to keep me engaged.
Protagonist Ana is born on the eve of Ciana’s expected birth. In Ana’s world souls are reborn over and over. At her birth, it is the first time in recorded history that a new soul is born and an old soul is lost. This causes panic throughout this tightly woven utopia. Her father is embarrassed and quickly leaves town. Li, her mother, reluctantly raises her away from the community of Heart. The first seventeen years of Ana’s life are bleak, as her mother inflicts her fears and hatred upon her. She calls her a nosoul and convinces Ana she is nothing. Despite this Ana secretly teaches herself to read and develops a passion for music. When Ana is eighteen, she leaves her childhood home to return to Heart. She is determined to find answers and escape her mother. Ana’s journey is filled with danger and it is here that she first meets Sam. I love how they meet, and the dance they try to figure each other out. It is evident that Ana’s upbringing has affected her, but slowly Sam builds Ana’s confidence and the real Ana begins to emerge. They travel to the city of Heart and the tale that unfolds is beautiful, captivating and shrouded in mystery.
I know some readers will be frustrated by the limited world-building, but because this is a trilogy, I am giving the writer some slack. The main focus of this novel was the relationship between Sam and Ana and it was beautifully done and totally believable. The romance progressed slowly and the way they interacted had me giggling, pulling my hair out and flipping the pages. The author begins to show us the character growth we can expect from Ana as she gains more confidence and validates her existence. I give Meadows kudos for her grasp of the complex psyche an abused soul exhibits. We see insight into Sam’s former lives, his loneliness and his regard for Ana. Most of my frustration came in the form of questions involve the world, the city of Heart, Janan and the souls. Meadows gave me just enough details to wet my appetite and equally frustrate me.
I blew through Incarnate simply because I could not put it down. The romance was wonderful, but I am really hoping that books two and three give us more detail regarding Heart, Janan, the Tower, and Souls. I consider Incarnate (Newsoul #1) to be an appetizer and I am still hungry. Hopefully, book two will provide the main course. I am looking forward to the next installment and will be keeping an eye on this talented author.