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Through the Veil
The Aisling Chronicles
By Colleen Halverson, Suzanne Evans
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2016 Colleen Halverson
All rights reserved.
I slammed the last of my contraband vanilla latte and threw it in the bin. Flexing my fingers, I narrowed my eyes like Clint Eastwood, staring hard at the archival box holding The Book of Arranmore inside.
Go ahead master's thesis. Make my day.
Not that shooting at the ancient Irish manuscript would have solved any of my problems. In hindsight, I probably should have doused it in holy water, burned it, and buried its ashes beneath hallowed ground, but, you know, English major. Every book is sacred.
Not this one.
The slide of cardboard broke the silence in the reading room, and I closed my eyes tight for a moment, taking a deep breath before lifting the book from its nest. It sprawled open, thin October light catching the brilliant gold leaf illuminations. Tucking a loose curl behind my ear, I pressed my nose close to the pages.
A Fae woman danced across the vellum and her brown hair rippled over her shoulders, her emerald eyes sparkling.
"She looks a lot like you," my advisor had joked back in September.
I snorted. "I'm no Tinker Bell, Dr. F."
But that was when he still laughed. Before his wife Moiré died. Before everything changed.
Before the book started changing.
At first it was little things: a green tunic turned inky black, the snarling wolf on one page jumped to the next, a Cyclops's eye closed and then opened again.
But then things got grim. The writing started morphing. Little snippets of text would bleed through the pages, describing something like the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but with Faeries. Then the creepy little golem creatures started crawling around in the margins, and, well. Yeah.
Burning it would have been a good idea.
Blinking hard, I refocused my eyes on the manuscript and breathed in a sigh of relief. Everything looked the same. Not one hair out of place with Faerie girl, not one misplaced word, no creepy devil people floating to the surface. Just a normal, medieval manuscript. Nothing to see here.
Taking a deep breath, I reached over to the computer and sifted through some tunes I had, perhaps, illegally downloaded. Time to lock the chattering psycho monkeys back into their respective cages. Only one cure for the transcription blues.
Oh, yes, I thought with a click of the mouse.
In seconds, an AC/DC guitar riff blared from the speakers, announcing Angus Young was "Back in Black." Buried far back in the archives of the Institute, not many faculty or students hung around the reading room late on a Friday. I cranked up the volume, drowning out the chorus of worry in my mind. Time to get to work. The clock to graduation was ticking, and I could almost hear the interest compounding on my student loans.
"Ranger up, Lizzie," I said, mimicking my dad's deep baritone.
But Dad, this book might be possessed by demonic entities!
I imagined Dad towering over me, his deep-set eyes glittering black just as they always did when he was about to make military analogies.
Patton was also haunted by demonic entities. They were called Nazis! Focus on the mission, Lizzie!
"Yes, sir!" I gave a fake salute to the air.
I glanced over at my copy of Thurneysen's Grammar of Old Irish and thumbed through the pages, my fingers smoothing over the pastel rainbow of sticky notes. Thurneysen and I had become quite chummy since Moiré passed away. She had been the Irish language professor at the Celtic Studies Institute at St. Brendan's, and the cancer that had taken her shocked us all. She would have listened to me about the changing book, chin in hand, nodding calmly at my crazed ramblings. I didn't dare approach Dr. F about it.
Hey, that book you got in Ireland last summer? I'm having some issues transcribing it because the pictures keep moving around.
Yeah, that would land me a one-way ticket out of my master's program and into the nuthouse. Besides, it wasn't as if the old man was in any condition to worry about me and my mental issues. When he first noticed some discrepancy between my notes and the text, he scolded me about my carelessness and waved me away with a series of corrections sprawled on scratch paper. Since Moiré died, it's enough if he makes it to work before noon. If at all.
With a deep sigh, I reached for my pencil. The space between my fingers and the pencil snapped with a crack of energy. It flew as if on invisible strings and landed smack into my palm.
"Jesus!" Tumbling from the stool, I landed on my ass with a hard thud. I gaped at the pencil as if I expected it to speak to me at any moment, but it was just an ordinary yellow number two, the nub slightly worn from use. Heart pounding, I threw it across the room, and it clattered to the floor.
A chill washed over me, and I blinked, staring down at my hands, a slight tingle like fizzing soda pop pulsing through my lifeline and down into the tips of my fingers. I clenched my fists, and the feeling disappeared.
"Elizabeth?" Candace, our sunny undergraduate intern, tapped my shoulder with her small, manicured finger. The heavy perfumed smell of violets radiated from her. She called to me again over the music.
"Why are you sitting on the floor?"
I swallowed hard. "I ... uh ... lost my pencil."
More like lost your marbles.
I scrambled up to the desk and turned down the music a click. Taking a deep breath, I turned to Candace. "Sorry, what's up?"
"There's a man up front who's asking a lot of questions, and I ... um ..."
All the blood drained from my face. "Oh, shit. What's today?"
"Oh, shit." A cold sweat beaded on my forehead.
"What's wrong? What is it?"
"It's the Trinity Foundation. I totally forgot they were coming this afternoon!"
Apparently Dr. Forrester had, too, or else he would have been there to greet them. I scrambled over to my desk seeking out my proposal, papers blowing across the wooden surface in my frantic search.
"Have you seen my proposal? I swear it was just here!"
Candace shook her head, picking up stray note cards scattered on the floor.
I rummaged through my backpack, forgotten Altoids and discarded pennies sticking to my fingers. Pulling out a stack of papers from the bottom, my heart sank as I took in the title "Pagan Influences on Illuminations of Early Monastic Manuscripts of Northern Uí Néill" covered in a dark, splattering Rorschach coffee stain.
Candace peered over my shoulder. "Doesn't Dr. Forrester usually deal with the public? I mean, who cares?"
"Who cares? They're our biggest donors!" I balled up the ruined proposal and chucked it in the corner.
The Trinity Foundation operated out of Chicago, but its roots lay deep in the motherland. Dr. Forrester had mentioned their visit, but I completely flaked, what with all the Harry Potter bullshit going down. "I applied for a grant from them to travel to Ireland next summer and wanted to make a good impression."
Shoulders slumped, I glanced down at the clothes that had barely passed the sniff test this morning. Faded skinny jeans and Dad's vintage Police T-shirt did not scream budding Irish medievalist scholar. I tugged at my yellow thrift-store cardigan, my fingers shaking as I fumbled with the pearly buttons. One of them was cracked, a half-moon dangling from a saffron thread. Classy.
"You look ... fine." Candace grimaced. "Well, maybe the hair ... "
"Right." I twisted my long mass of curls into a bun and stuck what I prayed was not an enchanted pencil through it.
"Besides," Candace said. "It's not about how you look. Wow him with your extensive knowledge of Irish mythology."
"Yes." I nodded, taking a deep breath. "I know things."
"You know things," Candace repeated, flashing me a reassuring smile.
"I know a lot of things. Irish things." I squared my shoulders. "I can do this."
I can do this.
I poked a few more curls up into my bun. "Yeah?"
"Oh, right!" I raced to press pause on the desktop.
Candace glanced down at the trash can. "You know, Dr. F would kill you if he knew you brought coffee in here."
"I was done with it, I swear!"
Candace shrugged and shook her head as she trotted back to the lobby.
I took a moment to collect myself. My heart raced, slamming in my chest like someone was using my breastbone as a timpani. I brushed a bit of dust from my cardigan and stepped out into the hallway.
"Dr. Forrester said 4:30 p.m., and it is now nearly five o'clock!" A gruff male voice echoed through the lobby.
Candace's fingers tapped on the keyboard behind the front desk. "I'm-I'm sorry. He had a department meeting. He should be here soon."
I turned the corner and took in the large man towering over Candace's shiny blond head. Tapping his foot and muttering something about being "late for another meeting," he shot her a menacing scowl. He clutched the edge of the desk as if he might overturn it and swallow our intern whole like a mini eggroll.
Candace bit her lip, her big brown manga eyes wide with bubbling anxiety as she fumbled with some files.
I hated a bully. Being an army brat with a new school almost every year, I could spot one a mile away.
"Can I help you?" I threw back my shoulders and tried to make myself appear taller.
The man puffed his linebacker chest. "Finn O'Connell. I'm with the Trinity Foundation. I have an appointment with Dr. Kevin Forrester." He had a crisp Irish accent, his consonants cutting through the shafts of afternoon light spilling into the room.
"I'm sorry, but Dr. Forrester is out."
Where are you, old man?
I stepped forward, pasting a confident smile on my face. "Is there something I could help you with?"
Mr. O'Connell stalked over to me, and I fought the urge to step back. Six foot five and no problems with invading personal space, the man from Trinity emitted waves of heat, and his body hummed like a pulsing engine shrouded in gleaming black chrome.
My heart raced as I tilted my head up and up to meet a pair of intense gray eyes that made me forget my last name. Gritting my teeth, I steeled myself, crossing my arms. Never show fear: rule number one for managing the bullies in your life.
"Dr. Forrester recently acquired a new manuscript —"
"The Book of Arranmore!"
Finn tilted his head, trying to make sense of the jumble of consonants I had just vomited. "Excuse me?"
"Um, yes. The Book of Arranmore. Sorry." I twisted my mouth into some semblance of a smile, but inside my stomach knotted, thinking of the changing pictures, the shifting text. "It's a wonderful new addition to our collection."
Finn glanced down the hallway toward the archives. "Would you mind if I take a look?"
"Um ..." I curled my fingers into my palm. "I think it might be best if we wait for Dr. Forrester. If you would like to come back later —"
"No, I would not like to come back later. My time is precious, Miss ...?"
I raised my eyebrows, bristling at the Miss. "Tanner. Elizabeth Tanner."
"Miss Tanner," he said. "As a contributing member to this institution, I think I am entitled to a small preview."
Entitled. Only certain kinds of men could throw that word around. Men in Burberry leather trench coats, dry-cleaned, pressed shirts so white they glistened like morning snow. Men with large checkbooks. Men, who, with the flick of a lazy, indecipherable signature could decide the destiny of my academic career.
"Of course, Mr. O'Connell," I said. "We have it in the back here, if you would like to follow me. I was just working on it."
Finn rode my heels, and I hurried to keep some distance between us. Opening the door and crossing the reading room, I darted to my workspace, leaning against the desk to establish my territory. I raised my chin, but inside my stomach fluttered as Finn took in the mountains of scattered notes I had amassed over the past few weeks. A messy desk is the sign of a true genius, right? Judging from the scowl on the Irishman's face, he didn't seem to think so.
I took a deep breath and was about to open my mouth to wax intellectual on The Book of Arranmore when my hand slipped over the computer mouse. AC/DC screeched across the wood-paneled walls, elaborating on the calamitous effects of American thighs.
I let out a squeak, whirling around and fumbling to press pause, my hands shaking violently. The music stopped mid-scream, and then silence.
"Interesting taste in music, Miss Tanner."
His words burned hot against the side of my neck, and I gasped. Finn stood a mere inch behind me. He stared down at the computer screen, the blue light flashing on the teasing smile spread across his face. Heat bloomed in my cheeks, and I clicked on the tiny X to close out the program.
"Oh, that wasn't mine!" I brushed my hair out of my eyes. "These dang undergrads. I mean, who listens to AC/DC, right?"
Finn's smile faded, his dark stare replacing the brief lightness in his features. I chewed on my lip, arrested for a moment by the impossible length of his eyelashes.
"Is this it?" Finn turned and planted his fists on the table, caging the manuscript with his arms.
"Yes." Closing in on Finn, I breathed in the clean, leather smell emanating from his long coat. Warm and intoxicating, he smelled like a mix of fresh laundry and badass. I shook my head, knocking my brain cells back in line. "We've just begun the translation into English, but already we can see some interesting new insights into pre-Celtic mythology."
Finn flashed me a penetrating glance, and I swallowed, averting my eyes back to the manuscript.
"Excuse me?" The Irishman turned to me in alarm.
Ice water raced through my veins. Faerie girl no longer had a smile on her face. Instead, her mouth had widened in an O, her eyes panic-stricken. Two black bracelets circled her wrists. Twisted chains swirled down the edge of the page, and a hideous figure lurked in a corner grasping the ends. He had a long thin nose, small beady black eyes, and his lipless mouth turned up in a sneer beneath the hood of his cloak.
"No." My throat tightened, and I blinked hard, rubbing my eyes. I leaned over Finn's arm, pouring all my attention into the illuminations, staring at the bracelets. Squinting, I could just make out some strange writing etched across them.
"Are you all right?"
I clutched at my scalp, blood pounding in my ears.
I jumped. "What?"
Finn's hard stare brought me back to the surface, and I blinked, swallowing the lump in my throat. "I'm sorry, I — uh — I just noticed something new about the illumination."
"Have you been working on this book for some time?"
"Yes, since September ..." My voice wavered, and I clutched the back of my chair.
Finn's eyes sought mine, and I averted my gaze, turning toward the window.
Outside, the towering steeple of St. Brendan's Cathedral poked through the sea of concrete modernist architecture. The library's wide windows displayed endless stacks of books haloed beneath the fluorescent lights. I spent most of my time darting between these two spaces, biceps blazing with the stacks of books poking into my stomach as I schlepped them up the stairs.
Caffeinate, read, write, repeat.
That had been my life for a year since the day I came to St. Brendan's. But as Dr. F said, to study Ireland one has to go to Ireland.
"The book? What's in it?" Finn prompted.
I let out a long shuddering breath, gathering my courage. "It's an encyclopedia of sorts by someone who signs his name as Lorcan." I began again. "It documents all the races of the Fae, you know, like Faeries."
He raised an eyebrow. "Faeries?"
"Yeah, um, but not like, you know, the Lucky Charms kind. He goes through all the magical invasions of Ireland, starting with the Fir Bolgs right up to the Tuatha Dé Danann." A tremor started in my hands, and I jammed them into the pockets of my jeans.
Finn's eyes rested on the vellum, narrowing on the insignia on the Fae woman's dress. The Tree of Life, with all its curling roots and branches, intertwined on her smooth, ample chest, creating a perfect circle.
Excerpted from Through the Veil by Colleen Halverson, Suzanne Evans. Copyright © 2016 Colleen Halverson. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This was a great book. The plot was intricate and unique. There was constant action, romance and intrigue. I can normally figure out the resolution eithin the first few chapters, but the plot kept adding layers in an unexpected direction. I absolutely will be getting the next book in the series
You won't be able to put it down.. I read this book within 24 hours! Ready for book number two to come out!
Couldn't put it down! Loved the story the characters everything! Now my only problem is waiting for the next book in the series to come out!
Fairies, love, hidden talents, the weight of saving the world…. No problem for Elizabeth. While working on her thesis translating a mysterious book for college she begins to wonder about the world. Things are changing, she is seeing things… is she going crazy? Enter Finn. With the introduction to Finn her whole world is changed. Finn and Elizabeth have a tortured relationship. They keep secrets, love each other, are forced to be together, then forced not to be together… it is an interesting relationship. Yet, I loved them. Together they were unstoppable, apart they were miserable. Each of them have powers that make them unique and powerful but the care and love they had for each other makes everything else seem non-important. Through the Veil is the perfect mix of romance and fantasy. The pace of the story is wonderful. Elizabeth and Finn are amazing. There is nothing about this book I would want to change. I started it and kept reading, turning pages, unable to stop. I definitely recommend checking out Through the Veil.
Whoa. The last fantasy romance I read that was perfectly blended with romance was Rhenna Morgan's Healing Eden. Neither overwhelmed the other, instead complimented each other to create a fast-paced and intriguing story worth reading. Ms. Halverson did that here, using fantasy and romance to create a story that is captivating from beginning to end. Finn is a time-tried warrior. His command is law, meant to be obeyed without question. He is protective, possessive, and will do whatever is necessary to ensure Elizabeth's destiny is her own. Elizabeth might not be strong like Finn but her strength comes from within. She remains firm and stands tall even when she's afraid. If ever there was a woman meant to stand up to and beside Finn, it's Elizabeth. The romance, stemming from lust and growing into love, flourished as they worked together to gain a future for Elizabeth that was of her own choosing. The Fae will always be interesting characters. They seem so advanced for our times but also seem archaic, methodical, and distant. I've yet to meet a Fae male lead whose heart doesn't soften for the woman who captures his heart. Elizabeth is Finn's compliment as much as he is hers. I can't wait to read the next book in this series. Received from Between The Sheets Promotions for an honest review
My favorite kind of magical books to read are the type that feel utterly real. This author's effortless grasp of the Gaelic language and Irish mythology make for seamless worldbuilding. The very down-to-earth voice of her modern heroine makes the magic a lot easier to buy into as well. I adored the descriptions of Ireland in this book--usually when you get someone who can paint a scene with beautiful words, they go overboard but in this book, I got just the right amount of visuals to get my fingers leaping to highlight the phrasing, and my lungs sighing with longing for just a line or two more. The pacing is great, with stakes that just keep getting higher and higher until the heroine lands in a situation so brutal that my eyes started bulging and I was forced to revise my entire opinion of the book to Game-of-Thrones-style no holds barred. From that point on, I knew ANYTHING could happen and my eyes were glued to the page (with the exception of some sympathetic wincing for the characters because OUCH). The end was not at all what I was expecting, and without being particularly spoilery, I have to say I was vastly impressed with how nicely this book applies itself as a metaphor for breaking out of an abusive relationship, becoming empowered, and starting to heal. This is a new fantasy author with worldbuilding talent to spare, and the grapevine tells me she's got an Irish historical forthcoming in the future that I'm VERY excited about.
Elizabeth seems to be your typical awkward yet attractive graduate student, but suddenly the world of legends comes bursting into her master's thesis and all hell breaks loose. Elizabeth finds herself swept away to a far away place - well just Chicago to start with, but that's just a little baby step for what's to come. Elizabeth is about to take the trip of a lifetime. As Elizabeth begins to learn more of her family history, lots of other secrets start crawling out of the woodwork. There were times I didn't know who were the good guys and who were the bad. But they all want to use Elizabeth and her unpracticed powers for their own needs. Finn is at the heart of this conflict and does a great job of totally confusing me emotionally. I loved him, I hated him, I thought he needed to die a slow painful death, and then I wanted to smother him with love. Through the Veil is quite an epic adventure with some really amazing characters and creatures. I couldn't put it down for anything! And now I have to wait for book two - I'm not sure how I'm going to manage that. *This book was received in exchange for an honest review*
I received this book in exchange for an honest review. Through the Veil by Colleen Halverson is a gem and definite must-read! I just couldn't put this book down! Ms. Halverson has created a fantasy/paranormal romance that seriously delivers with exceptional characters and chemistry that leaps right off the pages with a well-developed world and an absolutely divine storyline that you just don’t want to see end. Bravoooooooooo Ms. Halverson, bravo!
Elizabeth Tanner goes from seeking a scholarship from the Trinity Foundation to becoming a prisoner and a pawn in a battle for power between the magical races. Unbeknownst to Elizabeth, she is half fae. It is her heritage that enables her to be tricked into releasing a Dark Fae plot and forced into helping the Trinity’s agenda she must find the power inside to survive. Halverson scripts a highly imaginative and magical tale. I found Through the Veil enjoyable, well-paced and containing a good balance of romance, action and suspense. I would of liked to see a bit more character development because it was missing that character connection but still believe Through the Veil is a good strong urban fantasy novel. I received this ARC copy of Through the Veil from Entangled Publishing, LLC - Select Otherworld in exchange for a honest review.
I think that Colleen Halverson did an awesome job with the Fae part of this book. She told you a lot of details leading up to the Fae world and described things really well. I enjoyed this read! Elizabeth is a young college student working on her Thesis and is very into this Irish book that she is having to translate. The strange thing about the book is that it keeps changing. When Elizabeth looks at the pictures one time, they will not be the same the next time she goes back to them. Elizabeth can not figure out what is going on and keeps plugging away at her translation. Elizabeth is in a lot of debt so she is hoping that all of her hard work will pay off and she will get a scholarship through the Trinity Foundation. Little does Elizabeth know, the foundation is not at all what she has in mind and they are out to use her for their own benefit. Elizabeth meets Finn, the commander of Trinity's elite warriors, and they begin their journey through Trinity together. Elizabeth is a very strong willed person and Finn is so not used to someone like her, so she tries his nerves a lot and he has to learn how to deal with her. When they learn that Elizabeth's mother was Fae, they also learn that the Dark Fae are banking on Elizabeth to help them with their master plan that they have. Elizabeth has to reach in herself and find a way to survive and find her way back to the man that she loves. Will she be able to make it or will the Fae get the best of her and Elizabeth comply with their plan? You need to read this story to find out! Very well written and had just the right balance of fantasy and romance to make this a good read!
If there is something that I love, it's falling in love with ficitonal characters. I love when they are well developed and I can feel as if I know them, want to be them, or admire them. If I can do any of those with a character - yeah, I'm in love. I start my review as such because this is how I felt with Elizabeth and Finn. It's always touch and go with fantasy novels because I want some romance, but an awesome story and background with it too. Luckily with this story I got both! I loved Elizabeth and Finn - they were well-developed and the chemistry between them ever sparkling. *insert dreamy sigh here* The story was fast-paced and kept me wanting more. I loved the involvement of Irish lore - it made the story that much richer. There are also some sexy moments in this story - as anyone who has read my blog before can say - I did not mind such sexy moments. *insert not so subtle wink here* Through wonderful and intricate world-building and characters that are more than lovely, any fantasy reader (and not) will enjoy this read.
This is a definitely different story, with Irish mythology, an American student, three magical Irish races interconnected yet separated by the Veil, a plethora of double dealing, manipulative beings, lots of fighting and romance. What a combination! Elizabeth is studying a recently obtained ancient text but it keeps changing. Sometimes it may be the illustrations that change and at others it might be the text, but whatever it is, the only person who seems to notice it is her so she's starting to question her own sanity. She'll be questioning it a lot more as she learns more about the book, her personal history, the magical races and creatures and has her own role to play in the fulfilment of one myth that will leave her in an arranged marriage to a beautiful to look at but wickedly evil Dark Fae who wishes to abuse her powers to help him break through the veil . . . . Elizabeth is doubts herself but is a superb, strong, feisty and intelligent young lady, a powerful leading lady in every sense. The story was a real page turner. It is well written with a wide range of characters but they are introduced so well that I didn't feel overwhelmed by them and their roles. There are several double dealing characters who will endanger her, her life and her sanity. As she becomes increasingly aware of the possibilities for her in this new situation learning to use her own innate skills to protect herself and those she cares for is key to preventing those with evil intent from manipulating her to their own ends but can she learn in time? This is a fast paced fantasy romance that is likely to appeal to readers of either genre. I just hope there will be a sequel and this will be the start of a tremendous series, I want to know what happens next!!
I was totally pulled into this fae world created by Colleen Haverson. I have to say the story doesn't always run at a fast pace, there's world building and characthers to get to know but it kept me hooked. Elizabeth is an Epic characther, just an ordinary girl studying literature, then pulled into a world she didn't know existed. Finn is her main sidekick and love interest - not that you would imagine that at the beginning of the book! Finn is a Fae, his a soldier of sorts. Finn and Elizabeth have a pull between them, but everyone has an agenda for the innocent Elizabeth. Do they really have a chance?? Magic and danger is everywhere! There's so much going on, as I said so many parties want to own Elizabeth, and I mean own - she is not treated well and I have to admit I found some of the treatment she received difficult to read. I was rooting for Elizabeth, yes I wanted her to be with Finn but most importantly I wanted her to get strong and kick some arse and she didn't disappoint. If you like your woman strong and like to see them succeed through adversity you'll love this book. This is a great start to a new series and I look forward to seeing where Elizabeth goes next. 4 stars **I received an arc of this book for an honest review**