Through the Veil

Shiloh Walker
June 2008, Paranormal Romance
Berkley Sensation, $6.99, 336 pages, Amazon ASIN 0425222470

Grade: D
Sensuality: Hot

The premise of Through the Veil is a promising one: A woman raised as human actually comes from a supernatural race. Unfortunately, the story never truly takes off and a combination of lackluster plotting and an odd lack of chemistry between the hero and heroine doomed this romance for me.

Lee Ross has little knowledge of her roots and was found wandering as a child. Ever since, disturbing dreams have plagued her and she often wakes from sleep with strange injuries. Near the beginning of the story, she finds herself crossing from Earth into Ishtan, a place she previously visited, but never stayed at very long. While her assistance is certainly needed there, the reasons for her entering Ishtan for what seems like an indefinite stay are nebulous.

Be that as it may...Lee is found by Kalen, who fought alongside her before but does not fully trust her since she has always left in the past. Lee has little recollection or conscious understanding of Ishtan, but it becomes apparent that she has gifts needed by Ishtan in its battle against Anqar, a place beyond the Veil where Warlords live with kidnapped, enslaved people of Ishtan (particularly women, whom they use as breeding stock). If Ishtan is to have a chance at survival, Lee will need to learn how to use her powers to fight alongside Kalen and his warriors.

Readers will quickly learn that Kalen is quite attracted to Lee, but neither character is drawn very sharply, so their romance often feels rather vague. Given that Lee and Kalen spend plenty of time doing all manner of intimate things together, this lack of chemistry felt disconcerting. In addition, the overall worldbuilding is none too vivid either, leaving one with a book featuring the occasional good scene lost in a mire of worldbuilding so dull that I often had trouble paying attention.

Walker's tale of the struggle between Ishtan and Anqar has some complexity to it, but the characters come off more like types than individual people. Kalen and Lee have roles to fill within the story, but they remain flat as characters because the author fails to explore their lives and minds enough to bring them to life. The result is a story that is not horrible, but nowhere near good. It fails on a certain level because of its rather pedestrian nature. Paranormal romance of this type should have a certain excitement and otherwordliness about it, but this book simply does not. Even the sex and war scenes bored me.

When I read a book and find my thought processes running somewhere along the line of, "hmm..heroine has all kinds of power but is conflicted about it, blah blah blah...this looks like a major plot, whatever....", I know I'm not reading a winner. Sadly, this not such a bad approximation of what went through my mind while reading Through the Veil. Good paranormal romance is no longer a rarity in bookstores; find one and give this one a pass.

-- Lynn Spencer

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