Title: What Lurks Beyond the Veil
Author: Stephen Paul
Genre: Science Fiction / Mystery / Thriller
This paranormal thriller recounts the story of how three unlikely twenty-somethings, Shawna, Colton, and Adam, take on an apocalyptic threat with the help of an FBI agent and Mariah, an inter-dimensional being.
Colton has spent much of his life running ever since an accident left two close friends dead. Still, things were okay until he started getting recurring nightmares. His roommate, Adam, suggests he go talk to Shawna, a psychic who does dream interpretation as part of her empath work.
For her part, Shawna is worried that Colton’s dreams aren’t basic nightmares, especially once she’s asked to assess a murder scene which looks eerily identical to the setting of Colton’s nightmares—right down to Mariah, the pale-skinned woman found on the edge of the lake. When she brings Colton to the crime scene, his reaction confirms her suspicions, and Mariah makes it abundantly clear that Colton had something to do with the gruesome murder, even though he was never at that lake in his life.
Suddenly, Colton is on the run from the FBI’s suspicions while dodging attacks from gnomes, Bigfoot, witches, and demons. With Shawna’s knowledge of the occult, Adam’s organizational skills, and Mariah’s monster-fighting, they manage to stay alive, but murders keep happening, and soon, they’re worried that the whole human race might be the target of a diabolic plan to destroy order forever.
The pacing for this story is perfect for a thriller. There are abundant questions, but one isn’t given the time to just sit and ponder the situation, as the characters run from one difficulty into the next. Still, the feel of the story is unusually lighthearted, with characters frequently making quips and the whole situation feeling a little surreal, at least for the first half of the book. After that, the plot settles down to business and proceeds to an epic climax full of danger, fighting, and very dire consequences if they fail.
Part of what gives this novel an almost comical tone is the way the world-building was handled. For a paranormal story, the book is light on world-building, and it’s not until almost the last third that readers are presented with a full picture of how the spiritual and otherworldly aspects work.
The book also features more than its share of instant love and attraction, though this could be due to the energies the characters sense from each other. Early on, one might feel like this is part of a series rather than a stand-alone book, but the characters come across as real and interesting.
The plot is delightfully seasoned with genuine mysteries that make one wonder where things will go, and the resolution of these questions is very satisfying, though still light on explanations. There are moments when the spelling and grammar could be much more polished, but it shouldn’t stop readers from understanding the plot and enjoying the tale.
Readers who like a lot of action will enjoy this adventurous romp. It’s lighthearted, fast-paced, and a whole lot of fun.
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