Inkarna by Nerine Dorman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Nefretkheperi is Inkarna, a servant of the goddess Ma’at and working toward reincarnation. But her first return goes horribly wrong, and she spends the novel trying to uncover how and why, and ultimately who is behind everything… all while trying to navigate a new body, gender, and life that carries a lot of its own baggage.
When Nefretkheperi is reincarnated as Ashton Kennedy, he needs to put together the pieces of not just his own broken life, but the lives of others he broke. I really enjoyed how Dorman leaned into characterization, showing us a lot about the old Ashton in how others reacted to him when he miraculously woke from a 4-month coma. Righting Ash’s old wrongs becomes a mission, alongside trying to uncover what went awry in her own return. Complicating matters is the ‘real’ Ash’s angry ghost, and the uneasy peace they have to strike to protect Ashton’s physical body as well as his girlfriend, the sweet and kind Marlise.
Marlise is the cornerstone of this story. Her character arc keeps the story moving, even more than Nefretkheperi’s investigations. The reader wonders why Marlise stayed with ‘old Ash’, but seeing her responsiveness with ‘new Ash’, and how she moves from fear to caution to an actual partner was probably my favorite part of the story.
The story overall kept my interest, but I felt the pacing was a bit off. It meandered early on as Nefretkheperi-Ash navigated dangers that tested his powers. The overarching danger, and the thing that everyone seemed to be after, felt at times very dangerous, and at others, sort of like theoretical danger. There were lots of mentions of the Inkarna Houses, and I would have really liked to see more of what went on with them, and some more depth of the relationships Nefretkheperi shared with other Inkarna, as it may have provided more context for the twist at the end. The ending itself ramped up quickly, which felt at odds with the way the first 3/4 of the book had gone.
Dorman has done her homework when it comes to the Egyptian mythology and beliefs that form the foundation of the book, and while it’s a bit heavy on terminology, there’s enough context that can help the reader through. It’s nice to see living Egyptian myth in the modern setting. The areas in and around Capetown are lushly described, and the setting is as alive and vivid as the people who inhabit it.
I wish Amazon allowed half star ratings as well, because this is more of a 4.5; I really enjoyed it, had some laugh out loud moments, and really enjoyed the characterization and development. I’d recommend it to those who have an interest in mythology and urban fantasy, and those who may be looking for something a little different. Given how Inkarna ended, I’m looking forward to the sequel, Thanatos!
Inkarna by Nerine Dorman