Veil: Two out of three aint’ good

book review Christopher Golden Veil 1. Myth Hunters 2. The Borderkind 3. The Lost OnesVEIL by Christopher Golden

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsThe Veil series, by Christopher Golden, is something of a mixed bag. The first two books, The Mythhunters and The Borderkind, are fairly good. I enjoyed the world created in The Mythhunters. The books are a new take on some of our well-known characters from various fairy tales, legends, and pantheons. The legends of The Veil, however, are to children’s bedtime story characters what Stephen King‘s Pennywise is to circus clowns.

The story revolves around Oliver Bascombe and his family who are caught up in a down-the-rabbit-hole-style adventure in a parallel fantasy world, beyond the veil that separates our world from theirs.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsThere was a great deal of traveling accomplished by the main characters — Oliver, Frost, Kitsune, and co. — but overall the story was interesting. Books that involve a lot of traveling tend to be repetitious by nature, because the characters are never in one place long enough for deeper and more subtle plot developments to occur, so you don’t usually encounter political intrigue and the like. Instead, you typically get a bunch of encounters with monsters or bad people opposing the journey of the good guys. And you also get the whole characters-bonding-because-they’re-going-through-tough-times-together thing.The Mythhunters and The Borderkind do both fall into that trap, but there is still enough happening for them to rise above being a one-trick pony. The characters were reasonably well fleshed out, too.

Since Christopher Golden is a winner of the Bram Stoker award for horror writers, I expected there to be, well, some elements of horror. But there is nothing in any of the Veil books that would class this as anything other than your usual fantasy fare.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsThe first two books were decent. The third book, The Lost Ones, struggles to rise to mediocrity. It’s not a terribly bad book; it’s just exceedingly average, filled with cliches, trite and stilted dialogue, and a very predictable plot. And sneering — everyone sneers all the time. Sometimes a minor character will speak “with disdain,” usually just prior to being put in their place by a main character who then sneers at them. It’s like listening to a bunch of 10-year old boys trying to be tough.

The female characters are really men in drag, I’m sure of it; There is absolutely no difference in the way the women are written compared to the men. They just don’t seem like female characters at all. I don’t expect them to sit and gossip with their knitting class, but there is something decidedly lacking in them that makes them a lot less convincing than they should be. Of course, all of the characters are much flatter in this book for some reason. Somehow they deflated between novels to become distinctly less interesting in The Lost Ones.

In addition, the description of the numerous battles in The Lost Ones is incredibly unrealistic. In one scene, a petite woman with absolutely no martial training fights her way out from the midst of a group of heavily armored and armed trained soldiers. One of them she manages to knee in the groin and cripples him… Right. On another occasion one of the good guys gets hit by something in the lower back and ends up with a gaping wound large enough to see through, destroying his spine and blasting out of his abdomen. He not only lives, but, while still wounded, he walks around carrying another character.
And since The Lost Ones is primarily concerned with various battles, this sort of thing crops up quite a bit.

There are a whole slew of other minor plot discrepancies, too. For instance, while galloping on a horse through city streets, Oliver notices a small, young girl. Several blocks later this girl somehow gets ahead of him and she was on foot and stopping to speak with people as she went. Ok, so that’s not anything that would come close to spoiling a book for me — I’m not quite that pedantic — but stuff like that crops up every other page and the sheer frequency of it is annoying.

I think one of the biggest peeves for me is the way that the Christopher Golden writes assuming you care about his characters as much as he does. I’ll explain that: the adverbs and adjectives he employs always cast the bad guys in a loathsome light and the good guys in glowing halos. I really hate to have an opinion of the characters forced down my throat. I want to make up my own mind based on their actions. Oh, and the bad guys do a lot of gloating while telling the good guys all their plans and allowing them to knock them silly instead of actually living up to the ruthless reputations they’ve had built for them throughout the books. It’s painful sometimes how ineffective the bad guys are.

So, although Meatloaf might disagree, two out of three ain’t good. Although I enjoyed The Mythhunters and The Borderkind and would rate them at three stars apiece, had I known how much the writing would fall off by in The Lost Ones, I would not have begun the series at all. The third book rates at one and a half stars and brings the entire Veil series down to two and a half stars. In other words, it’s readable if you have nothing much else to do and possess a fairly high tolerance for cliches.


fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsMark Pawlyszyn, one of our earliest guest reviewers, has always tended toward the creative side of life and had careers in music and painting before settling into his current position as the owner of Unique Images Photography. Mark has visited and lived in twelve countries and can ask for directions to the bathroom in several languages. He currently lives in Canada with his wife, Sherri.


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