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Incarnate (A Spellmason Chronicle) by Anton Strout
Cover Artist: Illustration: Blake Morrow; Texture: Allgusak / Shutterstock
Review by Drew Bittner
Ace Mass Market Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780425273555
Date: 30 September 2014 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /

Stanis the gargoyle and his friend/ward Alexandra Belarus, the last Stonemason, both struggle to contain the damage of a spell gone awry, unleashing thousands of gargoyles upon Manhattan. When they most need to be united, they are pulled in different directions: she is interested in a young alchemist while Stanis is attracted to a newly awakened gargoyle.

More by Anton Strout:
Spellmason Chronicles:
* Alchemystic
* Stonecast
* Incarnate

In Incarnate, Anton Strout completes the Spellmason trilogy. Alexandra and her friends hurry to capture (or neutralize) gargoyles where they can, even as Stanis hopes to bring them into his Sanctuary and educate them about their new lives.

However, an unsuspected third player is in the mix. Stanis and Alexandra both realize that they are losing many of the unaffiliated gargoyles to this mastermind, who seems eager to build a gargoyle army. Beyond that, they discover clues that there is a magical amulet of singular power hidden in the city...and if this dangerous enemy gets his hands on it, the balance of power will tip against Alexandra perhaps forever.

Complicating matters is the fact that the NYPD and the wizards of New York are hunting for her. Each wishes to bring her to justice. Detectives Rowland and Maron of the NYPD get their hands on her, but Stanis conceives a clever plan to break her out of jail...which leads to an astonishing offer.

Working together with the detectives and an ancient power-broker named Laurien, Stanis and Alexandra start tracking down a figure known only as The Butcher--never mind that he's been dead a long time. With help from Caleb, an alchemist with an interest in Alexandra, and Emily, a grotesque just learning the ropes from Stanis, the search leads through a supernatural underworld, a hidden graveyard, a battle with animated plant-life, an encounter with an odd hippie who is more than he seems, and a running battle far above the streets of New York.

And by the time it's all over, nothing will be the same.

Strout brings his Spellmason series to a rousing conclusion in this volume, as all of the barriers and obstacles are faced at last. There is a lot of emotional reckoning in this tale as well, with an impossibility that suddenly becomes possible if they manage to win. Let's just say that our heroes have plenty of incentive to succeed.

The supporting cast is delightful, with Alex's friend Rory--the dancer-ninja--and Marshall--game store owner and budding sorcerer--contributing above and beyond the call of duty, as well as her golem, Bricksley. The cops prove to be pragmatic and resourceful allies.

And our heroes need the help, as The Butcher is a very cunning and powerful enemy. Even though he's been identified, he manages to surprise and outmaneuver the heroes effectively, such that they have to raise their game and take dangerous chances if they're going to stop him. He's recruited an army of grotesques to his cause, so they cannot overwhelm him with brute strength, and his familiarity with magic is much greater than Alexandra's... so whatever they do had better be good. (And it is.)

Urban fantasy readers will love this concluding chapter in the series, and we look forward to what Anton Strout writes next.

Recommended.

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