Thursday, July 30, 2020

In Veritas

In Veritas is a cross genre magical realism urban fantasy by C.J. Lavigne. Released 1st May 2020 by NeWest Press, it's 352 pages and available in paperback and ebook formats.

This is an exquisitely well written dark fantasy which doesn't immediately capitulate to the reader. The vast (vaaaaast) majority of books I've read lately (and I've read most of the "buzz" books in the F&SF and mystery genres for the last umpty-zillion years) have been easy to read, very accessible, passive books. You can read them, the plot is spelled out for you, and they are what they are. This book is emphatically not that. There are multiple levels to the narrative. The layers have layers. Additionally, the main character Verity has synesthesia so she smells and tastes colours and experiences senses differently than most people and the way the author describes these interactions adds another layer of obfuscation to the story.

The characters themselves are wildly variant and not easily characterizable as hero or villain, ally or enemy. It adds an uneasy tension to the whole book and I don't think I really relaxed at all during the reading. There are a few graphic body-horror scenes (not gratuitous) which were integral. The denouement of the whole was worth the difficult journey.

This is an -astonishingly- gifted author. The book is extremely well written but not easy to read and I can certainly understand that many readers won't want to make the effort. This work doesn't really lend itself to direct comparisons, I'm not sure I've ever read anything quite like it. If forced to pluck out some names, I would say that Tanith Lee and Jane Rosenberg LaForge wouldn't be completely wrong (especially LaForge).

Five stars, even though there will be a lot of DNFs and it took me so long to read that I had to go back and reread the whole start to finish before I managed to read the whole thing.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

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