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252 pages, ebook
First published October 1, 2021
Behind the Veil
is an atmospheric paranormal thriller set in 1920s Los Angeles. Letitia is a medium who helps the living move on by sharing the last moments of their loved ones. She has a genuine gift, and there’s something mysterious that happened in her past that compels her to help others, and not to take advantage of them in their time of grief. But when a man reaches out to her to help with his niece who is facing a mysterious specter and might have powers similar to Letitia’s, she must choose between helping the innocent girl and possibly losing her sanity–or even her life.
The book does have some trigger warnings that should be heeded. In the advanced reader copy, they’re provided at the end of the book, and I do suggest checking them out before diving into this story. I won’t reveal them here, because they are spoilers, but if you do have triggers, proceed with caution.
Letitia is a fascinating protagonist. She wants to help people, but she’s also paralyzed with fear of what could happen to her if she does not keep a firm control of her gift. She doesn’t have many friends. She’s moved to Los Angeles to start her practice, even though many view her as either a charlatan or a heretic. The story frequently hints at a tragic past, with the details of it being provided piecemeal to the reader.
I love the significance of the title: “Behind the Veil”. There’s the more obvious meaning, with how Letitia is a medium who has visions of those who have died. She also wears a veil to obscure her identity from her clients to maintain a modicum of anonymity. But she also has walls built high to shroud who she really is, which keeps people from getting to know her. This self-constructed "veil" serves to protect her from getting hurt–like how she has been hurt in the past.
While this book is slow to start, the pace quickens at the halfway mark, and there is a lot of action propelling the readers to the end. The story goes in dark and twisted directions that I definitely didn’t see coming. There’s also somewhat of a genre pivot partway through the book–there’s a strong romance subplot interwoven into the storyline.
The writing is lyrical, yet easy to follow. The setting feels authentic to what 1920s America would have been like, and Dawson effectively sets the stage for her spooky paranormal suspense novel with nearly every line.
I recommend this book to those looking for a creepy and atmospheric paranormal thriller to chill the bones on a cold winter’s night.
Physical manifestation of her sensory perceptions was the sign of an overwhelming persona.