The tenth book I’m reviewing is Incanta |Soul-Catcher, the first book in the Lost Souls series by Avie Adams. The genre is dark fantasy, which tends to mean fantasy with strong elements of horror. Now, for this particular book I was almost too skeptical to start it. I’m afraid that I judged it by its cover, which in my digital edition depicts a teenage girl with white skin, black hair, and red lips in front of a background of mountains and fog. It looked too much like YA goth supernatural romance, something like Twilight (not that there’s anything wrong with that, it’s just not my taste). But, once I started reading this book, I quickly found that it wasn’t like that at all. It was more serious, more ominous, and far more engaging.
The book’s world is utterly alien, and adjusting to it takes some time. The protagonist, a teenage girl named Cytriah, lives on an island where the buildings are molded from obsidian. She is an Incanta, a low-level acolyte in a religious order that specializes in something similar-to-but-never-outright-named necromancy. The society is ruled over by (get ready for the moral panic!) snake-like and spider-like Daemons. Within the context of the society, everybody thinks this is normal. Cytriah has a hard life, but it’s the life she knows. Intimidation by Daemons is a common threat, the cruelties of her superiors are a common threat, and it’s a fact of this world that if she fails in her role she will be condemned as a ‘Promise-bearer’, an imprisoned bearer of children. That’s her world. Cytriah’s world falls apart when she obtains new knowledge about the way it works, and why it works the way it does. That’s where the plot gets moving and the threats against her become more tangible.
The level of detail in the story is great. The world, the magical processes in it, even the gritty and foul aspects of the necromancy, are described credibly and with powerful texture. Besides this Cytriah and the secondary characters have complexity which manifests in various ways throughout the story. The only contention I really have is that in a few crucial points in the plot, there were some logical stretches. Characters took actions which were crucial to the development of the plot, which I didn’t see clear motives for. There were only two points in the story where I saw this, and it’s not a huge problem. Many stories have done this far worse.
As I mentioned at the beginning, I was worried that this would turn out to be a poorly-written supernatural romance story. There was a romance aspect to it that didn’t manifest in the plot until quite a ways through the book, but it wasn’t anything like the helpless-infatuation romance stories you expect of the genre. The romance in this story is dangerous, with consequences as ugly as all other consequences in this hideous world.
To wrap this up, I do recommend this book, though with discretion. Fans of horror may like it. Readers with qualms about blood and violence and that sort of thing will certainly not. I enjoyed it.
Now, the plug. If you liked this book review, you can see my others here: