Content Warnings: Strong Language, Sexual Attraction to a Minor, Abuse (physical, verbal, and sexual), Violence, Blood, Death
DNF @ 50%
Usually, I try to provide a brief synopsis of the book, something different from the one provided by the author. However, I can’t for this one because I have no idea what the plot is and I didn’t finish it.
What Lies Beyond the Veil deceived me. I was expecting something like Deal with the Elf King or A Court of Thorns and Roses, but that is so far from the truth. This book lacked romance, a plot, likable characters, and even decent dialog.
Hell, I couldn’t even finish the book because it physically made me uncomfortable.
- A map!
- Cool concept of reincarnation/number of lives
- Cringy/creepy male interest
- Flat characters
- Horrible writing
- Zero plot
- Slow-moving and clunky action
WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD
Let me find a magnifying glass to look for this plot. The entire mistress set up for Lord Byron felt forced and didn’t make any sense. If he wanted Estrella to be his wife/mistress, he could have made her instead of giving up, after 10 years of planning, the moment she said no. That’s not how you create tension or a villain. It’s an excuse to write trauma in an insensitive way just for a character to have a dark background.
Then the entire first half of the book is just about traveling and falling for a stranger in a day. I’m not sure how long the traveling aspect lasts since I stopped at 50%, but I’ll say this: they were still traveling.
No idea why they were heading to the southern mountains when the veil literally runs parallel to the island/content they are on. So they aren’t running away from the Fae if the veil is still beside them.
If the plot continued to remain weak and disjointed with weird spicy scenes, then I’m A-OK with not finishing the book. I need to have a reason to keep reading and the characters nor the plot did it for me.
Estrella is literally all bark and no bite. She can say feisty and harsh words, but she just goes along with whatever her male companion says. Like when Brann hinted at knowing things about her, but he didn’t share. She just accepted it and went on as if nothing happened.
She is a flat character and there’s nothing to her. We don’t know her interests besides Caelum, wanting to be free, and liking nighttime. She has zero personality and feels as if she is 14 instead of 20 years old.
I think that is the part that throws me off the most, the fact that she is 20 years old. If she was 14, then her character would make more sense, but she’s not. She’s a grown woman and there’s no depth to her.
Even though the Trigger/Content Warnings page at the beginning of the book sets Caelum up to be a healthy and gentle love interest, he is far from it.
This man is the creepiest and cringiest love interest I have ever read. He has zero sense of boundaries, he forces physical contact onto Estrella (kissing her forehead, holding her hand all the time, etc.), and uses unwarranted sexual language towards Estrella. Which only sexualizes her more.
It is because of him that I had to stop reading. I couldn’t take the things he did or said. For example, “Caelum retorted with a chuckle, turning his body toward mine. He scooted forward, inching across the grass, dirt, and dead dried leaves beneath us.” I get literally chills when reading this because it’s so creepy!
He comes across as possessive and stalker-ish instead of dreamy and romantic. Nothing that Caelum does is due to the “kindness of his heart.” He has questionable intentions and all I can think of he is going to kill Estrella. He just met the woman, is unreasonably affectionate, and is already possessive of her, AND THEY JUST MET.
Like, no ma’am. I don’t care if he is the fae Estrella is destined to be with. This is not okay. It’s unsettling and disturbing.
The side characters added nothing to the story besides forcing exposition and foreshadowing.
To start, Brann was useless. He did nothing but caused repetitive thoughts from Estrella wanting to leave him so she could “save” him. He was cryptic about Estrella’s future and events, and he just kept them running. He was so bland that when he died, I felt nothing.
Then there is Lord Byron. His reasoning for wanting Estrella was weak and nonsensical. He gave up his decade-long plan of marrying Estrella at the drop of a hat. The story literally would have been fine without his relationship with Estrella and his weird infatuation with a minor (she was 6 when he started his plan to marry her).
The writing in this book is horrendous. There’s an overuse of descriptive words (the first chapter could be cut in half if it weren’t for the useless descriptions) and awkward sentence structures.
For example, “Instead, he was as if carved from nightmares and crafted in sin.” Or, “You do not risk losing this using it on anyone else.”
What the fuck are these sentences? I had to stop and reread so many times before I could even grasp what Woods was trying to write. It might make sense when saying it aloud, but reading it doesn’t.
Then there are times when characters assume information they shouldn’t know. Here are some examples, Estrella knowing that her Fae is male or that the Huntsman moved Brann off of her to “get a good look at me and my injuries.” Like, ma’am, the Huntsman seemed like he wanted to kill you, not make sure you were okay.
On top of this, action scenes were confusing and details were inconsistent, such as Estrella using her knife on Caelum in the barn and losing it, but then later having the knife again.
I can handle some awkward sentences or minor inconsistencies, but when it happens on every page, I can’t. The book becomes a burden and annoying.
In the end, What Lies Beyond the Veil was overhyped on booktok/bookstagram. It wasn’t worth my time, energy, or sanity.
It seemed like Woods lost the plot 1/4 of the way through, the characters were cringy and creepy, and the writing was annoyingly horrible. It simply enrages me at the carelessness this author took when writing/publishing her book.
I, 100%, do not recommend this book.
What did you think of the book? Did you like it or could you have done without it? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
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