About the Book
Seven years ago, the Veil that separates humanity from what lies beyond was torn apart, and New Orleans was engulfed in a supernatural war. Now, those with paranormal powers have been confined in a walled community that humans call the District. Those who live there call it Devil’s Isle.
Claire Connolly is a good girl with a dangerous secret: she’s a Sensitive, a human endowed with magic that seeped through the Veil. Claire knows that revealing her skills would mean being confined to Devil’s Isle. Unfortunately, hiding her power has left her untrained and unfocused.
Liam Quinn knows from experience that magic makes monsters of the weak, and he has no time for a Sensitive with no control of her own strength. But when he sees Claire using her powers to save a human under attack—in full view of the French Quarter—Liam decides to bring her to Devil’s Isle and the teacher she needs, even though getting her out of his way isn’t the same as keeping her out of his head.
But when the Veil threatens to shatter completely, Claire and Liam must work together to stop it, or else New Orleans will burn.
This book was sent by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
I am not new to Neill’s work. I have read some of her Chicagoland stuff. I enjoy her sense of humor and her ability to write a light, fun story though I tend to struggle with the subject matter of that series. However, with that in mind, I was pretty excited to get my hands on The Veil. I was anxious to see what else the author could do with her writing chops.
The Veil takes place in a sort of post apocalyptic New Orleans. This is obviously the first book in the series, and the first half of it is rather full of infodumps, so readers should be aware of that. Neill is laying down the groundwork for a war, and a magic system. Her protagonist, Claire, does this by reminiscing a lot. This didn’t really bother me too much because the book is short and moves quickly so the infodumps at the start were over pretty fast. However, they are there, and they can make the book feel a little bogged down at the start.
New Orleans is a hard place to set a speculative fiction book because so many are set there. Neill set the bar pretty high in this regard. In order for New Orleans to impress me in an urban fantasy book, it has to be something completely new and different. In some ways, this New Orleans could be just about any city. It’s unique due to the divided nature of it after the war, and the post war cultural shifts. New Orleans was less interesting to me than Devil’s Isle, and I quickly found myself wanting to read more about Devil’s Isle and the veil itself than anything taking place in New Orleans. Devil’s Isle is where the interesting world building takes place. While there are nuggets of it in New Orleans, the strength of Neill’s world building definitely lies elsewhere.
In regards to world building, much of the groundwork has been laid here, but I think the heavy world building will really take place in other book in the series. This book felt more like an introduction, a book where the author gently laid out some concepts and left them before they became overwhelming. I think in book two and further she will easily build upon the foundation she laid here.
Claire is a character that sort of underwhelmed me in a lot of respects. It was hard for me to feel like she was incredibly unique and individual until the second half of the book, probably because the first half is spent with her reminiscing so much so readers can get the information they need. Like the world building, I think Claire is a complex character whose foundation was laid in The Veil, but will be elaborated on in future books. Unfortunately, due to this she felt rather cookie cutter, and didn’t quite shine as much as I wanted her to.
Liam was the most interesting character. He’s introduced as a rather stereotypical urban fantasy love interest, but quickly becomes something else as Neill makes it obvious that any romantic inclinations are going to take a back seat to the plot and inner workings of the novel (thank you!). He’s pretty mysterious, and completely compelling. Liam was like Devil’s Isle in my estimation. He’s where the real interest is.
The plot is interesting, and it moves pretty quickly. In some ways it is pretty predictable. Claire finds herself in the center of something large and unexpected. She gets thrust into a situation with the enigmatic Liam and has to navigate treacherous waters as she learns that she’s the linchpin for this potentially cataclysmic developing situation. There isn’t anything incredibly new there. What really makes this shine is Neill’s unique voice, her smooth flow, and the unique world where this takes place. It was hard for me to put this novel down, purely because the mixture of Neill’s writing and the interesting world building and character developments kept me pretty hooked.
The Veil is a promising start to a new urban fantasy series. While some elements might underwhelm readers, it’s a surprisingly addicting novel with enough unique elements to please just about any urban fantasy fan. I devoured this book despite any issues I had with it, and I’m anxious to read the next installment of this series.