VEIL OF THE UNKNOWN
Kelly Leigh and Terri Lucas
Received from authors for review
Lily Drew is pretty comfortable with her life. She enjoys her job at the library and spending time with her best friend Miranda, but lately little things have been changing–she's been seeing things that don't fit with her comfortable world. With the appearance of dark and mysterious Quinn, things quickly progress from comfortable to extraordinary.
Quinn slowly educates Lily on the Veil, something every human being pulls tight around them as they conform to society's expectations and stop asking questions, obscuring their view of a world of magik, astral projecting, and fantastical beings. While Quinn and those like him work to help people drop their Veils and see the world as they did when they were children, another much stronger group of people is working tirelessly to keep people complacent and ordinary.
Soon Lily learns that she is part of a prophecy, one her parents knew of before their sudden deaths, and one they want Lily to uncover for herself using the clues they've left behind for her. With the help of Quinn and Miranda, Lily embarks on a journey to fight for humanity's right to see things as they really are instead of as they're told to see.
Veil of the Unknown is a story with a great deal of potential–a strong premise and enjoyable protagonists paving the way for reader enjoyment. We can't help but wonder if maybe, just maybe, there might be a world out there about which we know absolutely nothing, and only our self-imposed imaginative limitations as well as our contentment with the way things are currently are denying us our exposure to it. Ms. Leigh and Ms. Lucas have created a world of infinite complexity and endless possibility, this first installment sending us on an adventure that is nicely self-contained but also sets up future events believably, leaving us content with the knowledge that the second book won't be grasping at plot straws to keep events going.
While the aforementioned complexity is a positive element in many ways, one aspect in particular is detrimental to the overall reading experience. The presence of Kenzie and Haley, two young women we're told will be joining us on Lily's journey as they document her story (with Lily being fully unaware of them and their role), is problematic. Not only do we get first person perspectives from Lily, Miranda, and Quinn, but we also have Kenzie and Haley intermittently jumping in with their two cents, providing very little necessary information and instead often reiterating information we already know. They are an interruption rather than an enhancement of this story, their sporadic appearances serving to remind us that we are in fact reading a book as opposed to letting us blissfully forget there are paper pages separating our world from Lily's as we allow ourselves to be caught up in the events and characters around us. In this first book their purpose in documenting Lily's transcendence from Obscured to Unobscured is never fully revealed, though surely it will be in the future, causing them to be simply distractions jarring us from Lily's life repeatedly just as we begin to settle in rather than valuable inclusions.
In addition to the somewhat inexplicable presence of Kenzie and Haley, we are introduced to secondary characters who seem almost unintentionally comical. It appears as though Ms. Leigh and Ms. Lucas were hoping to give their supporting characters memorable personality traits in order to breathe life into the individuals with whom we spend the least amount of time–a solid idea in and of itself, but it's in the execution where these traits become frustrating. Jack, Quinn's boss, is a man who places strong emphasis on every other word in order to more dramatically convey his point, to the extent that the use of italics becomes a touch annoying. One of Miranda's friends uses the word "like" incessantly, perhaps to illustrate her youth in a verbal way, but ultimately it's grating for us as readers. Lily, Miranda, and Quinn are all well-executed and speak normally and believably, their personalities distinct and clear without resorting to the employment of strange quirks and oddities, thereby making these traits in the secondary characters all the more noticeable.
There is a good story buried beneath a series of troublesome flaws, one of adventure, mystery, and romance that keeps us entertained between our bouts of irritation with Kenzie, Haley, and the supporting cast. For some readers, these detriments will not be as significant, but for readers like me who like to get swept away in a book to the degree everything else falls away save the characters and plot which hold our undivided attention, the little drawbacks in this story begin to compound and make us blatantly aware we're reading a piece of fiction.