Tortured psychic and high school French teacher Veronica Barry is back! As of just last week, Sophia Martin’s The Fire and the Veil is available on Amazon. A few things have changed since the last book, The River and the Roses. Veronica has a new boyfriend, and no car. Her best friend’s daughter has changed schools, and is now one of Veronica’s students…
But what hasn’t changed is the recurring, internal struggle of a psychic, and the deep empathy Veronica has for those she has visions about. The psychic’s condition is further explored in Fire on the subject of powerlessness. Veronica understandably gets frustrated with the duality of having urgent information, and being unable to disclose it without revealing her second sight. There are situations where it would be so much easier if she could just tell someone straight up what kind of trouble others are in instead of piecing together limited external evidence to justify actions that need to be taken. Save for the very few who know about and accept Veronica’s gift, laying out the facts as she knows them is not an option for Veronica, even when people are in pain.
Veronica’s internal dilemmas and monologues are something I was pleased to see carry over from the first book. I like other things about Fire, too. I like smooth, accessible flow of the narrative. I like Veronica’s dreams. I like the bits of exposure to other cultures (that alone is worth the read). I like the best friend Melanie, who is always available for pancakes and solidarity…
I do not like it when characters “out” other characters without their consent. It lowered my opinion of the one who did the “outing,” but not enough to smash the like-ability of the character altogether. Coming out of the closet was for the closeted person to do, not for anyone else to do for them. I don’t care if nobody ended up with targets on their backs or became an object of scorn because of it. It’s their news to tell.
For those who are liable to have a similar reaction: it’s also worth mentioning that this “outing” is only a small portion of the book, and therefore will only hurt for a minute. It is also a part of the story. Because of this, I can appreciate how it made me feel differently about the certain character. It made them all the more human.
So, if you like being transported to a place where teachers play a lot of hooky without the administration asking about the influx in sub-calls, and if you like a good psychic murder mystery, I advise you to take a look at The Fire and the Veil. To the readers who haven’t read River: don’t worry about getting lost. All the information from the first book that’s needed to get through the second is explained at the beginning of chapter one. It will feel like explaining, but there’s enough show-not-tell to save the recap from being the snoozefest it could have been.
To check out Sophia Martin’s blog, click here.