Review: The Veil by Chloe Neill

The Veil by Chloe NeillThe Veil by Chloe Neill (Devil’s Isle #1)

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Publisher: NAL Trade on August 4, 2015

Source: Publisher

Rating StarRating StarRating Star

My thanks to NAL and NetGalley for providing me with a digital review copy. No compensation was provided for this review, and all opinions are my own.

Claire Connolly is a good girl with a dangerous secret: she’s a Sensitive, a human endowed with magic that seeped through the Veil.

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For some reason I was convinced that THE VEIL was a YA novel, but when the protagonist Claire is revealed as a 24 year-old on the second or third page, that is clearly not the case. My expectations were already slightly off for this one, although it was clearly my own fault. Unfortunately, there were other ways THE VEIL failed to meet my expectations and I ended up being somewhat disappointed with the book as a whole. But as always, let’s begin with the good!

Chloe Neill’s world building in THE VEIL is very strong, and of course New Orleans is always a fun location for an urban fantasy. The blurb actually does a great job describing the basic set up, so here it is:

Seven years ago, the Veil that separates humanity from what lies beyond was torn apart, and New Orleans was engulfed in a supernatural war. Now, those with paranormal powers have been confined in a walled community that humans call the District. Those who live there call it Devil’s Isle.

I know, kind of an ominous name, right? Well if you lived there, you’d understand. Devil’s Isle is essentially a ghetto for supernaturals and their suspected sympathizers, a place where food and tech is even more scarce than the rest of New Orleans. Chloe Neill did a fantastic job of depicting the harsh realities of life in Devil’s Isle and introduced some side characters there that I hope to see more of in the sequel.

The people living in Devil’s Isle fall into two categories: Paras and Sensitives. Paras – or paranormals – are the non-human, magical beings that came through the Veil and into our world during the war. Sensitives are humans who are particularly attuned to the Veil and affected by magic, and somehow they’re able to use magic. But the human body wasn’t made to use Para magic, so if a Sensitive uses too much magic they’re at risk of becoming a Wraith. Wraiths are little more than killing machines bent on sucking humans dry…at least that’s what the military wants everyone to think. It’s not long before Claire and Liam begin to question whether there may be more to Wraiths than they once thought.

I liked this magic system and thought the tensions between humans, Paras, and Sensitives was realistic, although it’s not exactly an original idea in UF. Where Neill’s originality shines through is in her world building, which I thought was exceptional (and was also my favourite aspect of her Chicagoland Vampires series, of which I’ve read three). Not only does she do an excellent job with Devil’s Isle, but she also shows how much life has changed for people living in greater New Orleans and even in the bayous of Louisiana. There is a militaristic and survivalist slant to things that really upped the tension for me, and added a lot to the overall suspense surrounding the plot.

Unfortunately the characters didn’t work nearly as well for me as the world building did. I hate to say it, but Claire and Liam are just kind of boring characters. Despite the amount of time that Neill devotes to discussing their respective personalities, neither one felt fully realized. After reading THE VEIL, here’s what I can tell you about Claire: she has passion for historical artifacts and likes to tinker with gears and watches, she has no family, and she cares deeply for her friends but keeps them at arms length. That’s it. And all of that information comes out in the first chapter!

Both Claire and Liam just felt very two-dimensional and wooden, especially when it came to their will-they-or-won’t-they romance. It’s hard to create chemistry between characters when they fall flat. Add to that the fact that Liam blows hot and cold every third chapter and you have one forced romantic sub-plot. Some may say that it’s too early to call, but I’m stating for the record that I think a love triangle will emerge in later books between Claire, Liam, and a certain winged Para hottie. I wouldn’t object in this case, since I thought Para dude was way more intriguing than Liam.

But take my thoughts with a grain of salt, since I have seen many other reviewers say that they loved Claire and Liam! What didn’t work for me may work for you – plus there’s always hope for improvement in the sequel. After all, it’s no secret that UF series often take some time to build up steam – and I have confidence that Neill can write a more impressive follow-up.

What is your favourite book set in New Orleans? How do you feel about will-they-or-won’t-they romances? Tell me about a time you assumed a book would be one way and it turned out to be completely different!

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13 thoughts on “Review: The Veil by Chloe Neill

  1. I had similar thoughts, except I think I liked Liam more than you 🙂 Claire on the other hand, I agree with you 100% – she’s generic and doesn’t have much of a personality, things that I hope will improve in the next installment. I didn’t mind that they had no spark, I was actually pretty uninterested in any relationship between the two. Let’s just say if this series remained light on the romance it wouldn’t break my heart 🙂

    ~Mogsy

    1. Yeah, sadly the characters just didn’t work for me. I liked the idea of a nicer, more mild mannered UF heroine but something never clicked with Claire as a narrator. Ha, I know what you mean…but if you’re going to include a romance, I expect it to be good. 😉

  2. I’m interested in this one for the New Orleans settings but I am seeing mixed opinions on it so it may be another book relegated down my TBR list until it gets forgotten about. The entire concept sounds really interesting but if the characters themselves have nothing to them how on earth am I meant to stay interested in the book?

    1. I adore New Orleans as a setting! I’ve never been, but it’s pretty damn high on my “must see” travel list. The world building is truly great and the idea is fresh, but as it stands I’d recommend waiting until the second book is out. I suspect it’ll take a few books for this series to get off the ground (as with many UF series).

      1. See, I always wanted to go and then went last year so I have high expectations for any book which uses New Orleans as a setting. I will wait to for a second book to come out and see if it improves with time. I hate having to wait for a series to improve though, but it might be worth it.

  3. I don’t think this one is for me. I have a thing about characters – and wooden isn’t doing it for me!
    Thanks for the review though.
    Lynn 😀

  4. Attempting to comment again because clearly Disqus swallowed my last attempt.
    Firstly I LOVE your blog design and the icons you include in your reviews, minimalistic but so pretty.
    I love the sound of the worldbuilding in this book, but I am allergic to both flat characters and romance – they put me to sleep. I am totally more of a character centric reader, so I think I will watch and wait what people think of the next book before committing.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    1. *Grumble at Disqus for swallowing comments*

      Thank you, Aentee! I’m pretty new to photoshop but I make the icons using that program. From what I can tell of your blog, you’re much more the design expert. 😉

      I love UF and I’ve liked Chloe Neill’s books a lot in the past, so I was sad to say it…but yeah, the characters didn’t work for me. I LOVE a good romance!, but there’s nothing more disappointing than a relationship that feels flat!

  5. I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy this one as much as you thought you would. That’s always a bummer.
    And yeah, I don’t particularly care for hot-and-cold guys, I mean, if you like a girl, you tell her, right? Ok so there are times when staying away is justified but still.
    Umm Armentrout’s Wicked is set in New Orleans but I really liked Kresley Cole’s Immortals After Dark series that’s set there, the Valkyries are awesome and they party hard.

    1. Blergh, it totally is.

      YES, thank you! Hot and cold behaviour from anyone is just annoying. And it wasn’t even justified in my opinion! Just manufactured drama, yet again. Make up your damn minds, people!

      Oooh, I’ve read a few of the IAD books and really liked them! I went through a very intense and embarrassing phase where I was obsessed with everything Scotland and I came across the series while searching for books with Scottish characters. I think the only one I read that involved Valkyries was Hunger Like No Other, which has a half vamp/half Valkyrie heroine.

  6. I had to go back and read this review before reading the review for the Sight. I’m actually surprised that it’s the same protagonist – I don’t know why but the Sight made it seem like she was a brand new character in the same world…? I misinterpreted something along the lines somewhere…
    How far off am I when I say this kind of sounds like an adult City of Bones? Main girl named Claire with red hair, hot-and-cold and kind of flat love interest? Is this a popular trope..?
    I’d also vote for the winged hottie – way more interesting! 😀

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