Posted in: AztecLady Reviews, reviews
Tags:Paranormal elements, Shiloh Walker, Veil novels
Where to start? Hmmm… Well, for starters, this book is an amazing mix of urban fantasy and paranormal elements with romance. The world building is really top notch—complex yet flexible, the way life actually is.
Here’s the blurb:
Found wandering in a field as a child, Lee Ross was given a name by the state and placed in a foster home–without anyone realizing she wasn’t entirely human. All her life, she’s tried to dismiss the odd dreams that have plagued her, dreams of monsters creeping through the night and a man, fighting demons by her side. But the bruises she wakes up with are all too real to ignore.
Then the man from her dreams appears in the flesh. His name is Kalen and he insists that her destiny lies in his world, the world of her dreams. To save their people, he must convince Lee to give up everything she knows, follow her heart and cross into the Under Realm, even though once she does, she’ll never be able to return.
For once the blurb hits its mark—yay! Chalk one up for authors!
In this universe, some individuals have the power and the talent to see between dimensions through the Veil, and there are ways to cross from one to another by opening the Gates between worlds—but doing so has consequences, often unforeseen, other times callously ignored. Two of these worlds have been at war for generations.
As wars often do, this conflict has changed over time. From a first strike prompted by the need of a world to survive, the incursions have become almost a sport for the aggressors. The world that is the target of these ever more frequent raids is now on the brink of implosion, torn by invasion, violence, pollution and despair. Eventually something must give.
Ms Walker gives insight into the politics of each world; the evolution of a society where power is the only thing of value, contrasted with the disintegration of the social, political, and economic infrastructures in a world under siege.
Did I say the world building is good? Well, then, the characterization? Oh man, so good, particularly the two main characters, but also several of the secondary characters who play important roles in the story—Morne, Dais, Eira, Arnon, Char.
I love the internal conflicts that Kalen and Lee go through, and I truly can’t say which of them I like more, or with whom I sympathize more.
Kalen has known and loved Lee for as long as he can remember, all the while also knowing that he has an obligation—self imposed for the most part, but still utterly real—to fight for the survival of his people and their world. Forcing Lee to leave her safe life in a world devoid of magic and demons, monsters and marauding Warlords, putting her right in the thick of the most dangerous war in the history of the worlds, is both the last thing he wants and the one thing he must do—for the survival of everyone in Ishtan.
Once she’s forced to cross the gate between Earth and Ishtan, Lee is faced not only with the utter impossibility of all that surrounds her—from the landscape to the people to the creatures—but also with the terrible responsibility of realizing that she holds the key to ending the strife, the slaughter, the destruction, the fear. She must come to terms with what she has always believed are mostly forgotten, nightmarish dreams, but which in fact are memories of all the times when she subconsciously traveled between the two worlds. Locked within these memories is the key to saving this world—the knowledge that allows her to control the dangerous magickal power inside her.
Watching Lee wrestle with her own fears and doubts, come to terms with who and, most importantly, what she is, is both wrenching and fascinating. There’s such pain in her, such loneliness—probably more acute because she doesn’t whine about it. In fact, it would seem she’s not even consciously aware of it.
Then there’s Kalen’s struggle, between his guilt over his elation—the woman he’s loved for as long as he can remember is finally fully there, in his world and in his life!—and the weight of knowing that, because he is convinced that Lee herself is essential to ending the war, he must place her directly in the path of the enemy, risking her more than he’s risked anything or anyone before.
For example, here:
The look of horror and fear in her eyes was going to haunt him. If she hadn’t killed them, they would have killed her and Kalen was damned glad she had been able to defend herself.
But what he wouldn’t give for that to have not happened.
He’d give his very soul up if they could live in a world where none of them had to fight just to survive.
Lee has just survived an attack and saved someone else’s life in the bargain—but barely. Kalen knows it will be worse each time, more dangerous, more violent. Yet they need her. He needs her. He’s not letting her go (not that he can or knows how, but still), and yet simply by being there she’s in danger.
I like the pacing of the story. Ms Walker conveys a very palpable sense of urgency and danger throughout the novel. Not having the first on-screen attack occur until a few weeks after Lee’s crossing over to Ishtan allowed for a building of tension that increased its impact, as well as graphically showing the real urgency of the situation.
The plot, while not terribly complex, has a few unexpected (though there are instances of subtle foreshadowing available to the attentive reader—in other words, apparently not me**) twists towards the end. Being as I am a tad obsessive about internal consistency, I really appreciated it here.
Ms Walker’s voice and characterization always draw me in, but the scope of this particular story allows her talent to really shine.
This novel gets 8.25 out of 10
**I had to go back to find them :sheepish: