Veiled by Benedict Jacka

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Veiled by Benedict Jacka

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Category: Fantasy
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Ani Johnson
Reviewed by Ani Johnson
Summary: Future divining mage and Londoner Alex Verus is back a 6th time and his life isn't getting any safer as he takes on a role bringing him closer to the magic establishment. Benedict Jacka once again brings us full of heart-beat accelerating set pieces and a world that becomes more 3-D with each outing with no sign of series droop.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 384 Date: August 2015
Publisher: Orbit
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0356504377

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It's a time of great change for future divining mage Alex Verus. He's come to the decision that his apprentice Luna has reached a stage where she needs more multi-faceted training than he can offer. An additional teacher is therefore sought and one applicant, in particular, isn't exactly Mary Poppins. Meanwhile, Alex adds a new chapter to his life by working with the Keepers, the Council's police force, adding perhaps a little more danger than is good for him. However his past is never far away and no, that's not a good thing.

Alex Verus, the character and urban fantasy series that started as the then 6th former/Year 13-er Benedict Jacka's school library shows no sign of flagging. In fact, Alex and his world grow in conjunction with Benedict's talent as we greet them both for a 6th outing.

There is plenty of explanation and background for those who like their fantasy world to have a third dimension in addition to the expected fourth. (Although new readers would be best to read in order starting with Book 1 as they would miss so much otherwise.)

This time Benedict takes us through some more of the history of Britain's magical uber-strata, including the layers and operations of the Council and its enforcement agency. It operates much like the CID, not that the CID ever had the same sort of house breakers that the Keepers and Alex, in particular, have to contend with.

Indeed it's not all fascinating history and clever world construction; there's the usual edge of the seat action too. For instance, I defy anyone to read a certain bedroom scene without feeling Alex's adrenaline-fuelled fear as to what is about to come in through the window. (You're right - it's not that sort of bedroom scene!)

Benedict also demonstrates that future divining isn't a dependable fantasy get-out-of-jail card. Being able to see several variations of future events only helps if you think to look for them with enough time to spare. If left too late…

Luna is growing as an apprentice with ideas of her own. Whether her ideas are sound, especially when it comes to selecting her additional tutor, only time will tell. Meanwhile, Alex is distracted by what starts off as a marble beside London's Light Dockland Railway and ends with complications within the Council that even he hadn't foreseen.

As always, as well as the joy of meeting new characters (such as worthy new nemesis Chamois) we have the joy of re-encountering old faces such as Caldera. (We'll pause here while Jim Butcher fans – Benedict and me included – smile and nod at the homaged nomenclature.) Keeper Caldera has never been best buds with Alex but, as he now has to work with her, he realises she's good to have on side in a bind.

We also come across the White Rose, an organisation that's perhaps a little conveniently topical. However, with a storyline populated in the way that this author fills his pages, we just shrug and bite our next available fingernail.

As we're left with a last scene rippling with foreboding and sinister warning, we realise something anew that Alex – and Benedict – are in no danger of facing fantasy series burn out any time soon.

(Thank you so much, Orbit, for providing us with a copy for review.)

Further Reading: We definitely suggest that you work your way through Mr J's back catalogue. If you're already a fan and interested in what else is new in urban fantasy, we recommend Foxglove Summer (Rivers of London 5) by Ben Aaronovitch or perhaps a bit of steampunk in the form of The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley?

Benedict Jacka's Alex Verus Novels in Chronological Order

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