Incarnate by Jodi Meadows
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
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 expertly weaves soul-deep romance, fantasy, and danger into an extraordinary tale of new life.
My take: There are one million souls in this world that recycle over 5,000 years. Then one day one soul died and another was born. A new soul. Sometimes referred to as "no soul." Ana makes her debut to this world and few, if any are pleased. Her father abandons the family and her mother hates her. Anna reaches age 18 and goes in search of her identity. Ill-prepared (thank you, Mommy Dearest), she is attacked by the Sylph and saved by Sam, an old soul returning to Heart, the main city whose walls have a heartbeat, the city center has a temple. The temple is supposed to house Janaan, the God who created then abandoned the souls to fend for themselves against the Sylph, centaurs, trolls, dragons and the elements.
In heart, Ana is shunned, attacked, rejected, ignored and, in some cases, accepted. Theology is addressed and purpose of life questions asked. Where is Janaan since creating their world and souls? Is Ana a mistake or does she matter? Are all souls precious?
Sexual tension - high but no sex. Souls love one another and lack gender. Physical body manifests gender and is not consistent. Tastefully written.
Violence - abundant in dragon scenes
Swearing - None
Dialogue - Clean
Resolution of the first book in this trilogy was not clean. There are a lot of hanging threads that I hope will be addressed in the next books. I'm invested enough to read on.