(2021) Beth Overmyer, Flame Tree Press, £20 / Can$32.95 / US$24.95, hrdbk, 231pp, ISBN 978-1-787-58583-6
Holes in the Veil is the second in a Fantasy series. Following on from The Goblets Immortal, we enter a world of fairies and goblins combined with a strong magic system, where blood-magic prevails. People there with the right ancestry, who are Blest, can 'Summon' objects to themselves and 'Dismiss' them back again at will.
This is quite a useful skill although as with the best magic, it has its limits. Distance is a limit, and iron can be used for punishment and imprisonment, should the holder be able to wield it. Items can be stored ready for use in 'The Nothing', a sort-of alternate realm where time & space are different. It also allows some people with the talent to hide there as well, even when time spent there is both disorientating and unpredictable. Generally magic is something to be feared rather than respected by most common folk.
Enter our hero - Aidan Ingledark, having survived the first book by killing his enemy and gaining the Summoning Goblet, now has a map to find the Questing Goblet, one of the five that together make the Goblets Immortal and give unlimited power to those who possess them. His quest therefore in this book is to find the aforementioned Goblet, for it gives luck beyond measure to whoever drinks from it.
And he’ll need it, for challenging him and Slaine, his ex-slave-girl friend, is Meraude, an evil mage who also killed Aidan’s parents. Now with a vendetta against Aidan, she is determined to get the Goblet back and so begin a Great War for which she is determined to be the victor. In turn Aidan wishes to gain revenge on Meraude for killing his parents and Slaine wishes her dead because she has been cursed. xxx.
Generally, it’s nicely done, if undemanding. We have here a book that can be read by both adults and teens, and has a narrative with few unnecessary diversions, basic characterisation and a fast-moving plot. The dialogue is pleasingly sparky and we get to know enough about the characters to make them interesting, if a little clichéd. There’s a touch of romance in the ‘will they – won’t they’ relationship between Aidan and Slaine, and of course the revengeful bad-mage Meraude is appropriately hissable.
Holes in the Veil is clearly not the first in the series, but it is straightforward enough to follow, with enough backstory to ensure new readers get what’s going on. It is undeniably comfort reading in that the reader pretty much gets what they expect, but many will enjoy the path trodden to the end.
The ending tells us that there’s more to follow in the quest for the remaining Goblets Immortal, although this story has a pleasing symmetry about it. It is a charmingly persuasive read.
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