Fingers crossed that Veiled Magic by Deborah Blake is the beginning of a series! There’s something gripping about a well-written urban fantasy with an element of investigative police work. Full of intrigue, deception, and a lot of running from bad guys, Veiled Magic had me under a spell.
Since Witches came out of the broom-closet in the early 21st century, they have worked alongside humans as police officers, healers, stock traders, and more. But they aren’t the only paranormal entities in our world…
Police officer and Witch Donata Santori spends her days interrogating dead witnesses by summoning their spectral forms. Normally the job is little more than taking statements and filing reports. But when she’s called in on the case of a murdered art restorer, she finds herself suddenly in possession of a mystical portrait that both the human and paranormal communities would kill to get their hands on.
Unable to take on the forces hunting her alone, Donata seeks help from two unlikely and attractive allies: a reluctant shape-changer and a half-dragon art forger. But as the three of them hurry to uncover the truth about the powerful painting, Donata realizes that she’s caught in the middle of not one but two wars—one for possession of the painting’s secrets and one for possession of her heart…
So, let’s start with the main character, Donata, shall we? She’s tough as nails (as many good heroines are!), the family black sheep (because rules and family expectations are just suggestions, right?), and a wholly under-utilized member of her precinct (talking to dead people tends to weird out co-workers). Donata has a good head on her shoulders, but she doesn’t have much ambition in the beginning of the book. She’s sort of stagnant, and still trying to figure out her place in the world – not unlike many of us. Her tenuous relationship with her family is…interesting, to say the least. I think there’s more to her mother’s ambivalent and disdainful attitude than meets the eye. I like the fact that we step right into a day in life of Donata from page one. The reader experiences everything in real-time along with Donata. I also think that there are more mysteries than just the origin and composition of a painting.
Really, there were only three other supporting characters. The rest of the characters were transient bit players; granted, I expect a few of them to turn up in later books and get some more page time. Two of the supporting characters, Magnus – a shapeshifter – and Peter – a not-quite-human professional forger, also happen to be men with more than a passing interest in Donata. We’ll see how that plays out, but I envision Donata’s love life becoming MUCH messier. The third character is Ricky, the Kobold that attaches himself to Donata. He is delightful and quite handy to have around.
The plot is a fun mix of paranormal, alternate history, and good-old-fashioned detective work. A single painting may or may not be the key to uncovering and outing all of the paranormal races. When Donata happens upon the painting, she needs Peter’s help in finding the clues hidden in the painting. Of course, there are two opposing factions that want possession of the painting and who are placing a significant amount of pressure on Donata to deliver. Donata finds more questions than answers and, like any good cop, pursues the truth. The problem is that the truth is complicated, and questions and mysteries begin to pile up in the most fantastic way.
Veiled Magic takes the paranormal/police plot to some very interesting places. Not quite as gritty or bleak as some of my recent reads, Veiled Magic maintains a more informal and hopeful viewpoint. I’m really curious to see where Deborah Blake takes us from here – dragons, witches, kobolds, and shapeshifters, oh my! There are so many different ways that these mysteries could play out that it would be impossible for me to guess. Lovely characters and an intriguing plot make Veiled Magic a win in my book!