Author: Nerine Dorman
Publisher: Dark Continents Publishing
Genre: ADULT urban fantasy.
I read a lot of books, so when one stands out for me, you can be sure that it has something special. This is such a book. It’s different, totally original and conceptually fascinating. I really enjoyed it. Although, Netgally had it down as horror, I wouldn’t call it that. It’s dark, yes, but not black—possibly saved from that fate by the angry ghost.
I’ll admit that the what-if scenario had me hooked from the start. A woman, a practitioner of an ancient Egyptian cult that allows souls to return with their memories intact, is reborn as a man, and into the body of a young man, not a baby girl. If that isn’t disorientating enough, the soul of the young man, who was in a comma, has been displaced, and he isn’t pleased. Though Lizzie, our incarnate soul, has none of the memories of Ash, the young man, she soon finds out that he was a bit of a bastard and has to deal with the repercussions.
Lizzie, as Ash, inherits a girlfriend, and the transition from feeling like a woman in a man’s body to becoming at home in that body to the degree of resuming sexual relationships is extremely well done. The girlfriend soon discovers that the new Ash is much better than the old one, but he brings with him a different kind of danger.
There’s been a stuff up, and the reason has to do with the politics of the cult. Lizzie/Ash finds her/himself in possession of a dangerous article and the knowledge it holds, something that must be kept from what is essentially a mystical cult version of the mob. They, of course, are looking for it, and they’re a mean bunch.
Then, there’s the matter of the pissed of soul/angry ghost who haunts the couple violently. Rather than make an enemy for eternity, Lizzie decides to give the old Ash a bit of what he wants ie his body back. After a bit of a battle, she/he absorbs the ghost into the body, with the idea of sharing it. Then things become even more interesting. New Ash holds a tight rein on the old Ash, keeping him unable to manipulate the body, but still aware of everything and able to access Lizzie’s memories. Eventually they begin to get along and help each other out to keep the body alive. This dual possession of one body, with the ghost being able to pop out and reconnoiter at will, adds an interesting and sometimes humorous dimension to what ends up being a fantasy version of a gangster story.
The awesome Inkarna powers—the manipulation of energy honed through meditation—give the fights a superhero quality, and the author’s treatment of the metaphysical aspects of the story is highly evocative.
The structure, characterisation, and world building are flawless, and the prose is excellent for the most part. There were some copy errors, but since this was an ARC, they should be fixed before publication.
I can’t fault this and I really enjoyed it, so I give it 5 stars. I recommend it for all urban fantasy lovers.