Word Spelunking

Masters of the Veil - Daniel A.  Cohen THREE WORDS: Original & Great World-BuildingMY REVIEW: Daniel Cohen’s Masters of the Veil is an enjoyable YA Fantasy with captivating world-building and original fantasy elements.Sam Lock as it all- looks, popularity, the envy of his classmates and an almost guaranteed career has a pro-football player. But at the big championship game Scott taps into some intense power and literally freezes his surroundings and costs his team the game. A mysterious beautiful woman, May, shows up and tells Scott that he as the ability to connect with the Veil (magic) and the potential to become a powerful sorcerer. May whisk Scott off to Atlas Crown, a magical community of sorcerers, where he must learn to control and harness his power. Scott trains with a mute boy who becomes his friend and a hot girl who won’t give him the time of day…but his biggest problem is a group of evil sorcerers who want all the Veil’s power to themselves and plan on using Scott to get it.On the surface Masters of the Veil has a rather well used premise- young character learns he/she has magical abilities, is whisked off to a school/community/camp to train and must go up against the villain-but Daniel Cohen has taken this premise and infused it with his own original and fantastic fantasy elements and well-developed world to create a story that is new and refreshing. The book starts off a bit slow and it did take me a couple of chapters to really “get into” the story, but once I was in, I did enjoy it. The world-building is really wonderful. Cohen has created a magical world that is vivid, enchanting and whimsical, yet dark at the same time. From flowers that make music to trees that bend and move to bushes that change colors depending on the mood of the person passing by to all the wondrous magical abilities the characters possess, the world of Atlas Crown is as fun to explore and discover as Wonderland or Narnia.The main character Scott is likable enough, but I did find it hard to connect with him. I suppose I just don’t have a great deal in common with a football obsessed, slightly cocky, teenage boy. However, I do think his character grows a great deal throughout the book, which I liked a lot and by the end of the book I was definitely invested in Scott’s journey. I really liked Glissandro, the mute boy who communicates with music; he’s an intriguing character and I feel like there’s a lot more to his backstory and I look forward to learning more about him. At this point I don’t really like Daphne, Scott’s crush and potential love interest. I found her arrogance and superiority complex quite annoying and I wasn’t thrilled by her and Scott’s chemistry…but I’m interested to see where this relationship goes.The story itself contains a great deal of backstory and introduction; Cohen really seems to spend most of book one setting up the trilogy as a whole. This has both positive and negative effects on the story. On the positive side, I feel like all the backstory and history allowed me to be really immersed in the story and has me intrigued about where the story is going. But, on the negative side, this book lacks enough exciting action or captivating conflict. There is action and conflict toward the end of the book that involves the well developed villains…I just wish there had been more.The ending is both sad and hopeful and will leave readers wanting more.MY FINAL THOUGHTS: Masters of the Veil is a fun, fresh fantasy that delivers an intriguing story and fantastic world-building, and is a great first volume in what is sure to be an excellent trilogy.

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