Veiled by S.B. Niccum (TreasureLine Publishing, 2011). Reviewed from Kindle edition provided by author.
Tess and her clan are angels who have been developing together over a long period of time. First they were intelligences, whizzing around the universe, and now they're spiritual beings about to begin training for their angelic duties before becoming mortals. Each one of them has a special gift which they must further develop as well. Tess's gift is discernment--she can read minds and see auras. As the novel begins, all of the angelic beings are gathering to choose sides in a heavenly conflict between two forces. Tess and her clan, along with the majority of spirits, choose to follow the First One, while the ones who follow the Second One become Fallen Angels. Tess had managed to persuade the former Queen, Agatha, of the renegade group to remain allied to the First One, but Agatha still feels disgruntled and ends up plotting a new uprising with other renegades who stayed behind yet remain loyal to the Second One.
While the story focuses on Tess and her relationships, the world of heaven features prominently in the novel, which makes it both esoteric and interesting but also somewhat offputting. One of Tess's chief worries is that she won't recognize her family members, especially her special friend Alex, once she is living on earth. All of the angels are told that once they cross the Veil they won't remember anything from before. Because of the novel's title, Veiled--in the past tense--I expected more of the novel to occur once Tess had become mortal. The tagline for the novel, "Can love survive the forgetting effects of the Veil?", also made me think more of it would be about Tess and Alex's relationship once they both crossed over. Instead, Tess goes to classes, develops her gifts with the help of some superangels (Cherubs and Seriphs), gets involved in foiling the plot of the renegade angels, and goes on a few relatively brief earthly missions as an angel. She's even the guardian angel to one of the females in her clan at one point. The story ends just as Tess and Alex enter the Veil and begin crossing over.
The treatment of time throughout the novel is fascinating and compells the reader to consider the philosophical stance of viewing mortal existence as merely a brief interlude in the life of the soul. This is obviously pretty abstract stuff, so this novel will not appeal to all readers. Similarly, the physical appearance of the angels is left somewhat undetermined. They're insubstantial spirits, but they can embrace and seem to have human body parts. This remained a little sketchy for me. Other angelic beings do have specific physical attributes of height and weight. Overall, this is a unique and enjoyable novel. It seems an unlikely choice for teens because it is so highly abstract for the most part, but it is suitable for readers over age 12.
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