As excited as I was when I first heard about MASTERS OF THE VEIL, it still took me a while to pick this one up. I have to be in just the right mood to read about magic, or I don't get swept away. I'm weird like that. While main character Sam Lock's arrogance in the early chapters did keep me from connecting with the story right away, by the time we reached Atlas Crown and discovered alongside Sam that magic is real, I became much more immersed. Daniel A. Cohen excels at descriptive prose, creating concoctions I only wish could actually be real. From delicious-sounding food to creatures that don't naturally exist such as rinsefish, symflowers, and echo flies, Atlas Crown is brimming with magic in a way I haven't seen in other fantasy novels.
Like many other books in the genre, Sam doesn't realize that magic is real, or that he's gifted. At the championship football game, everyone around him freezes, making it look like Sam choked. His magic comes into being on such a grand scale that magical beings across the globe can feel it, and two different factions want to train him to use his new powers. The sorcerers at Atlas Crown get to him first, which is a good thing, because the Tembrath Elite want to use Sam's powers for nefarious reasons. Sam has trouble believing magic is real, and it takes him a while to accept his new life. Even as he does, he wants nothing more than to return home and play football, where scholarships and pro-ball wait for him. In Cohen's world, there are three types of magic, and Sam is gifted with the most powerful--and most deadly. Sam has the potential to become one of the most powerful sorcerers, yet he also struggles to be a normal teenager and easily falls prey to a dangerous game that could ruin the magical Veil--and life as everyone knows it.
In addition to creating a lush, beautiful world, Cohen is also deft at developing secondary characters. Too often, anyone who isn't the "hero" or the "hero's love interest" falls to the wayside. In MASTERS OF THE VEIL, there are so many characters I loved reading about, from teachers to friends. In particular, I love Glissandro Thicket, a boy who spent most of his life mute. He managed to manipulate his magic in such a way that when he plays his horn, he can be understood. His music is his voice. It was fun to see the creative ways Cohen had him "speak" without ever using the words "said," "spoke," etc. Glissandro stole many scenes and is one of the most unique characters I've come across. I also really enjoyed the fact that Cohen focuses on the magic. It's a refreshing change from all of the YA novels seeped in insta-love revolving around romance, as though the story is just thrown in to get two characters together. Additionally, I was glad to see a YA novel from a male POV, because these are too few and far between.
If you're still on the fence, consider this: the ebook version of all Spencer Hill Press' ebooks are very reasonably priced. MASTERS OF THE VEIL is $5.99, which makes it easier to blind-buy than something $9.99+. I have yet to be led astray by this up-and-coming publisher!