Book Review: Masters of the Veil

Masters of the Veil
Masters of the Veil
By: Daniel A. Cohen
Published by Spencer Hill Press
Release Date: March 1, 2012
Genre: YA fantasy
205 pages
Buy it on Amazon, IndieBound
 or Barnes and Noble
Source: kindly provided by publisher

My thoughts:
As I reflect on the fun read I just completed a few minutes ago, two elements of this inaugural volume of the Veil series stand out: How excited many of my friends will be to find a fun read that they will feel good about handing to their kids, and how truly original the world-building is. 

Why will my friends feel good about handing this to their kids? It's clean (meaning, lacking inappropriate language and/or content), it's engagingly adventurous, and it incorporates some characters who can serve as truly good role models. For example, the main character is a hometown football hero who discovers, at the most inopportune time, that he has a gift for using magic. In a nutshell, this gift makes him highly sought-after by the bad guys, so the good guys shelter our hero while trying to give him some instruction. He therefore gets introduced to an amazingly imaginative world, full of interesting characters and creations. The climax of the novel comes down to the hero having to make a choice that could literally destroy the world: a setup for some great exploration and discussion regarding good decision-making.

The world-building and lore of this story are absolutely first-class. The setting, objects and characters all have roots in familiar tales, but are presented in a fresh, original way. I am very much looking forward to the next volume, as I am betting that the author has a lot of creations ready to go that just wouldn't fit into the first book, and I can't wait to see what else he's come up with. It is really nice to read a YA offering that is not a re-tread of the same formula we've all read twenty times.

For me, the only thing keeping this volume from being a 5 is the pace/overall frame of the story. There is so much for a reader to learn, and the introduction of so many characters and concepts, along with an epic adventure to save the world, all in just over 200 pages- the result seems a bit rushed and lacking in arc. The break-neck speed of information flying at me was a little less elegant than this fantastic story deserved.

This would be a great choice for anyone who loves stories about magic, especially when it's presented in a way that is spiritual rather than evil. 

Summary from GoodReads:
Life can't get much better for Sam Lock. Popular, good-looking, and with a future as a professional football player. every guy at Stanton High School wishes he were Sam. That is, until his championship football game, when Sam accidentally links with an ancient source of energy known as the Veil and reveals his potential to become a powerful sorcerer.Sam is whisked off to Atlas Crown, a community of sorcerers who utilize the Veil as a part of everyday life. Once there, he trains beside a mute boy who speaks through music, an eternal sage who's the eyes and ears of the Veil, and a beautiful girl who's pretty sure Sam's an idiot.As it becomes clear Sam's meant for power magic-the most feared and misunderstood form of sorcery-people beyond Atlas Crown learn of his dangerous potential. An exiled group of power sorcerers are eager to recruit Sam, believing that he is destined to help them achieve their long-held goal. If they succeed, they could bring about the downfall of not only Atlas Crown. but all humankind.