Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Review: Veil of the Unknown

(Veil #1)

Kelly Leigh and Terri Lucas
Urban Fantasy
Available Now
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.

Rating: 2.5/5


  1. Sounds a bit overly complex. Sometimes being conscious that you are reading a story helps move it along, sometimes not. Thanks for providing examples of what didn't exactly work for you, Jenny. I'm gonna say this one probably isn't for me.

  2. Characters are an important aspect for me when I read and this sounds as if they do not work well in this story. Thanks for an honest review.

  3. Great honest review Jenny. I like a story to have a good flow. Sounds like this is missing it.

  4. I really like that cover, its simple and pretty, although this one probably isnt for me I love that you always find something positive to say, even if its a book you didnt care for.

  5. I really like the cover! It does sounds like a great book. Thanks for the honesty in your review! In order for me to enjoy the book I must be able to feel it. If the flow is not there, I just can't read it.

  6. This one does have an interesting plot, Jenny, but it seems as if this first novel was overly ambitious about introducing every key player in the series. Like Nic, I also like a story to have a flow and know where's it's going to take me but this one seems to be wandering. I don't think this one is for me either. Thanks for an honest and balanced review, Jenny!

  7. Thanks for the honest review! The synopsis sounded interesting, so I am sorry to hear that it's disappointing.

  8. Missie - All the different point of views were fine, but I really didn't understand why Haley and Kenzie were there. It's clear there's a purpose for them down the line, but read as a stand alone, their presence made no sense to me.

    Jan - The main characters I enjoyed for the most part, and normally little minor issues with secondary characters don't bother me, but every secondary character in this book had an unnecessary quirk and I couldn't help but notice.

    Nic - Without Haley and Kenzie, I think the flow would have worked fine:)

    Tina - Thanks, there's always something positive about any book I think, just sometimes the negatives outweigh those positives:)

    Savy - Haley and Kenzie threw a wrench in the flow for me, but when they weren't popping in, events went smoothly:)

    Rummanah - The premise is great, I just didn't understand the purpose of Kenzie and Haley.

    Misha - I'm hoping when things with Kenzie and Haley are clearer this series will work a little better for me:)

  9. It sounds lovely and the cover is positively mesmerizing. Great review.

  10. Great honest review. :) The cover is beautiful and the premise so intriguing-- it's a shame the characters and 'flow' are so flawed. I might check it out sometime, anyway, just for that amazing premise.

  11. I fear I will just go meh, but then all books are not for me. If they were then I would be broke ;)

  12. Juju - I do really like the cover, the colors are lovely:)

    Kat - Thanks! I've got it on good authority that the Kenzie/Haley situation will get worked out a bit more in book 2, so I look forward to that:)

    Blodeuedd - Me too, my bank account isn't my biggest fan at the moment:)

  13. It's always too bad when there are all kinds of little things that add up to a book being not all that great. Still, sounds like an interesting idea overall.

  14. It just doesn't seem to flow to where I would really like this book. Interesting premise, however. I sorta like the cover. It just needs to bring up the highlights on her head and torso. She looks cut in half. Other than that I like it. Sorry, art class reared it's ugly head. O.o

  15. The premise sounds like Illusions by Richard Bach. It's too bad you weren't able to enjoy it more. The issues that bothered you I think would bother me as well.

  16. Interesting review. Is this one self-published. If so I wonder if an editor would have fixed some of the characters getting in the way. It's funny how little things can disrupt an otherwise good plot.

  17. Ashley - It was definitely interesting, just a few issues for me along the way:)

    Melissa - She does kind of look cut in half, you make a good point!

    Pam - I haven't read that one, I'll have to look it up:)

    Alison - Yes it is self published via Smashwords. Kelly (one of the authors) was really nice and wrote me this morning to say that some of the issues I had with this one were being remedied in the second book, so I'm looking forward to that!

  18. Awesome review. You know, I hadn't heard of this book previously, but the premise does sound very unique. I can see how the jumping POV could be a hindrance to getting the story across.

    Thanks for sharing this one with us!

  19. I had to skip this book, it looked to have to many of the elements that are not my favorites in some Urban Fantasy (too many POV's and the world didn't sound like one I could get wrapped in)!

  20. Great review, Jenny! I liked the premise and the sound of the main characters but I'd probably get annoyed reading a whole bunch of words in italics and having to read the word "like" repeatedly, and so will probably skip this one.

  21. Sounds kind of 'blah' to me! I'm definitely like you... I NEED to be be swept up in the story. Why else would I read except for escapism? To LEARN or something? :)

  22. That's always made me think-- what if there's a world that I know nothing about?
    Thanks for the honest review.
    Brandi from Blkosiner’s Book Blog

  23. Thanks for the intelligent review. What a shame that such a good idea hasn't been fulfilled. I really like the premise for the story.

    If it is a self published author, I hope she'll do a revision, taking your points into account. Sounds like she needs an editor. I'd like to see a revised edition someday with the faults removed.

  24. Jenny-

    Very thorough review. Yes, I'm one of those readers that wants to get lost in the story and not constantly pulled back to reality. Afraid this one isn't for me, but hopefully the next one will improve. You do seem to see some promise in the core characters and story.