Labels: Pub08, SWalker, Triple8Challenge08
If you thought you were familiar with Shiloh Walker's work... think again! Through the Veil is Walker's newest work and it hits the stand this coming Tuesday. The story offers us a glimpse to another side of Walker's talent by moving toward the Sci-fi genre when I, personally, had only read her paranormal Hunter series.
The story takes place between three worldly dimensions. Our contemporary world where we first encounter Lee, our heroine. Ishtan where Kalen, our hero belongs, and Anqar where the world is ruled by Warlords bent on destroying Ishtan for it's women. These worlds interconnect through gates that can be opened and closed by the Warlords and their power. Less powerful beings might not be able to open a gate to pass into these other worlds but they could look through the Veil between worlds and covet all they saw, like the females and the daughter's they produced. The women in Ishtan had powers that when breed upon produce strong offspring which Anqar needed. They had been losing their natural female population and this lead the Warlords to invade Ishtan and take the women as body slaves back to Anqar where they would try to breed upon them.
The Warlords had been raiding Ishtan for as long as anyone could remember.
Lee lives in the contemporary world but goes to Ishtan in her dreams. She fights alongside the rebel forces to stop the Warlords from destroying that world but she believes that it is all part of an elaborate dream. She wakes with bruises on her body but dismisses them as over active sleep patterns.
Kalen knows that Lee is a strong force that belongs by his side in Ishtan. He is capable of looking through the veil between his world and hers. He watches her confusion and her rationalization of the bruises she acquires in her fight, but doesn't know how to reach her to convince her of the truth. The convincing takes place early on in the book and then Lee moves on to struggle with her new reality because although she is a fierce warrior for the rebellion she comes to Ishtan in her new form as a novice. Her denial of this new reality is overwhelming and blocks her knowledge of how to control her powers.
Lee is a mystery not just to everyone around her but also to herself. She has no idea where she comes from and how is it that she is able to cross over to Ishtan from her world. Kalen only knows that Lee is important not just to the cause but to himself. He has loved her and desired her for many years but between getting shot at and evading a new attack there is little time for romance. now that Lee is back to stay he is ready to claim her for himself.
If you are expecting the story to be a romance you might be disappointed because although the romance and passion are there the main focus is on Lee and how she comes to unite her old self with the warrior she has become. The first 30 pages are difficult due to acclamation to the new world. The definitions at the start of the book is where this information should be since you will need to know this information from the get go. The definitions allow you to get to know the inhabitants of this new world because as soon as you start the book you are thrown into that world, no real introduction just slam-bam thank you ma.am.
But how do you introduce such a dark existence as those living in Ishtan have? The world building is extraordinary and so vivid that you can feel the desolation and the hopelessness when Kalen describes the future of his world. The story doesn't just paint the bleak panorama that exist now but the richness and vitality that existed in the past. You mourn the loss of Ishtan as you see it through Kalen's eyes. Wonderfully done!
Despite the difficult start, the book picked up and was a smooth read. There were parts that I would have liked to see more of the Warlords and their threat especially after I accepted the prominent Sci-fi theme. I would have liked to see more of the characters from Ishtan, not just their struggle. This would have made the story more robust and yet by the end not only was I looking for Kalen & Lee's happy ever after but it also left me wanting to hear Morne's story (he was the rebellion's healer and carried a history of his own).
I was divided about the grade on this one just because I loved many things about this book (the strong visuals, the strength of Kalen and his commitment to his people, the unique characters that brought the book to life) but in the end I had to bring it down because it was a difficult start and there was so much focus on Lee's dilemma and the part she was to play in the rebellion that I was left wanting more of the people of Ishtan, more of Kalen, more of Morne and Eira (the witch elder that trains Lee).