Autumn Topping | Nov 8, 2017 | 2
Within the Veil by Brandy Vallance – A Romantic, Gothic Scottish Historical Novel
Within the Veil Review
Historical fiction isn’t a genre I read a great deal of. I don’t know exactly why, but when I find one that resonates, it’s kind of a big deal. Brandy’s novel Within the Veil is a complex, unique and interesting period read that has a sense of “wild” romanticism that’s hard to ignore.
For gypsy Feya, assuming the care of three young children is difficult. Yet this is what Feya has been left to do in the wake of her mother’s death. Her father provides little to no assistance, forcing Feya to consider the unthinkable. For one night she agrees to be a lady of the night, just to earn a few coins for food. Instead, this is the night everything changes. She meets a man who could forever change her heart.
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If an opening hook is what’s most important to a novel, this book has nothing to fear. The opening roped me in not just because it’s absorbing, but also because the emotional impact was there from the very first. As the story continues, it’s clear these characters are about to be put through trial after trial before they have even a chance of discovering peace.
Though the opening captures the reader, about a quarter of the way into the novel, something of a disconnect springs up. I suspect this is more a personal preference than poor storytelling. I think what surprised me most was the presence of mythical issues. Alasdair seemed to experience “colors” overnight, which crept up on me. As I said, though, I think this was more the plight of a reader than anything. On the surface, this seems like magic that works its way into the story, but logic explains it as an ailment. A weakness that may be our hero’s undoing.
(SPOILER A condition the author notes describes as synesthesia, a “neuropsychological phenomenon where all of the senses are combined.” END SPOILER)
The character study is of enormous importance to this journey. What surprised me most (because I went into this having forgotten how the synopsis read) was that this is a book about more than a metaphorical journey. The journey for the Within the Veil characters is one of the heart and physically. In some ways, Alasdair has an uphill battle because he’s something of a “stiff upper lip” Brit, which means he’s not the easiest person to like. But the “weakness” of his character humanizes him. The shift comes about midway through the novel, and a switch flips. Once this happens, let me tell you, the swooning reactions come with uniform frequency.
Though bulky in length, this is a novel perfect to read during these winter months. Cozy up next to the fireplace and discover the journey of Feya and Alasdair. It’s an atmospheric and arching romance that is sure to please any reader who enjoys fiction.
Though the story is different, while reading this novel, stories like The Living and the Dead or Outlander come to mind. So, it’s easy to see this book adapted into a TV series with a shorter number of episodes. I suspect this is more the “wild, untamed” setting and the sense of “free spirited” characters rather than the story. Alistair is also a brute of a hero in the tradition of Gothic leading men like Mr. Rochester which works well onscreen.
“In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My
feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me
to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”