Source: Review copy from publisher
Back Cover Description:
A shroud of secrecy cloaks a new nineteenth-century sect known simply as the Saints. But that veil is about to be drawn away. Amidst the majestic beauty of 1857 Utah, the members of one secluded religious group claim to want nothing more than to practice their beliefs without persecution. Yet among them are many who engage in secret vows and brutal acts of atonement...all in the name of God.
But one young woman, Hannah McClary, dares to question the truth behind the shroud. Soon Hannah and the young man she loves–Lucas Knight, who has been trained from childhood to kill on behalf of the Church–find themselves fighting for their very lives.
As a group of unwary pioneer families marches into Utah toward a tragic confrontation with the Saints at a place called Mountain Meadows, Hannah and Lucas are thrust into the most difficult conflict of all–a battle for truth and justice–even as they are learning for the first time about unconditional love, acceptance, and forgiveness.
The Veil is a very well-written Christian historical novel with some romantic elements. The main characters are caught up in historic events during their childhood and into their young adult years which climax at the Mountain Meadow massacre in Utah in 1857.
The description was vivid, bringing the world alive in my imagination without slowing the pacing. The historical detail was nice and added to the feel of the book. The tension was built nicely throughout the story.
There was a strong religious element to this book (of both traditional Christianity and Mormonism). Since there were several short sermons and a number of discussions about what was taught, I suppose you could call sections of the story "preachy" though I never felt it was heavy-handed.
The characters were all complex and interesting. Some Mormon characters behaved compassionately and others brutally just as some non-Mormon characters behaved compassionately and others brutally. This is not a "all Mormons are bad" book.
However, I strongly suspect most Mormons wouldn't enjoy reading this book since several of the Mormon characters questioned Brigham Young's teachings on multiple marriages, blood atonement, and a few other things. It's clear, though, that the author carefully researched the events and stuck to historical information closely. For example, many quotes that were attributed to Brigham Young and other Mormon leaders in The Veil were taken from actual sermons and writings.
A sex scene was implied (within a marriage). There was no bad language. I'd rate this novel as very good, clean reading. I would recommend it to anyone who's interested in this period of Mormon history or who likes wagon train stories.
If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.
Excerpt: Chapter One
Wolf Pen Creek, Kentucky
Ten-year-old Hannah McClary crept along the trace leading from the creek to the crest of Pine Mountain. Farther on, the trail wound into the lavender hills, through the pass, and far beyond where the eye could see, to Kentucky's tall silver grass country.
With every step Hannah looked for evidence that her brother Mattie had taken this path when he disappeared. She stopped, brushed her hair back from her face, and inspected the broken twig of a mountain laurel, turning it in her fingers. He'd gone looking for some old Daniel Boone trail, she was sure. Hannah figured her brother left Indian signs for her to follow, just as he had done in play when she was but a wee tike.
Hannah examined the bent twig for shreds of buckskin, perhaps caught as Mattie hurried by. But there were none. She frowned, turning the tender shoot in her hand. It was a recent break, maybe caused by a lone Cherokee hunter, or maybe Mattie. She moved farther up the trace, deeper into the dark forest of birches, oaks, hickories, and maples.
Her brother had always said he would take her with him when he left--that was the part about his leaving that saddened her the most. Her other six siblings were mostly sullen, like their pa, or unnaturally quiet. Since their ma died, only Mattie seemed to have the same curiosity for life that Hannah had. He was her protector, her champion, just like knights of old they read about in the primers and fairy-tale books some distant cousin had sent from Virginia. And he told her stories he'd heard from their Irish grandma'am. Stories about God and his care for them all. Mattie said he knew for certain that Hannah was someone special in the eyes of her Creator.
Mattie had taught himself to read and write, then he'd taught Hannah as well, opening a world of notions and longings to them both. The rest of the family, with the exception of their ma, couldn't be bothered with book-learning. The others mocked them, calling Mattie and Hannah dreamers, scoffing at the very word.
But now Mattie had left without Hannah, without a hint telling her where he was going. And every day when her chores were done, Hannah searched for his trail, thinking surely he meant for her to follow.