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The Incarnations

Fantasy and thriller collide in this novel from Susan Barker (The Orientalist and the Ghost), a thousand-year epic of reincarnation wrapped in a paranoid game of cat and mouse.

When Wang Jun finds a letter in his taxicab, he assumes it was mistake. A driver in Beijing, he shares an unremarkable existence with his wife and school-age daughter, yet the letter's writer insists Wang is a reincarnated soul destined to walk the path of life with him/her throughout the ages. They have already shared many lives as family members, lovers, enemies. Bound by fate, Wang and the writer will reunite again in this life, their shared history of love and betrayal more powerful than any present ties.

Barker seamlessly integrates the letters and chapters about Wang's more immediate past--his difficult childhood, a stay in a mental hospital and a love affair that still haunts him. She writes on an enormous scope, rolling ancient Chinese history and legends together with the Communist Revolution and the modern-day country they created. Despite the multiple jumps through time, Barker never loses her grip on the pacing, ratcheting up the tension. Brutal yet seductive, this journey through the darkest parts of the human spirit will leave readers with chills running down their spines. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads