*I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*
Title: In Veritas
Author: C.J. Lavigne
Publisher: NeWest Press
Publication Date: May 1, 2020
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Led by her synesthesia, Verity Richards discovers a hidden world inside an old Ottawa theatre. Within the timeworn walls live people who should not exist–people whose very survival is threatened by science, technology, and natural law. Verity must submerge herself in this impossible reality to help save the last traces of their broken community. Her guides: a magician, his shadow-dog, a dying angel, and a knife-edged woman who is more than half ghost.
In Veritas is a book unlike any other you’ve read. It’s an absolutely beautiful debut novel full of magic and mystery. Two worlds coexist side-by-side, but one is slowly damping out the light of the other. Nobody experiences the chaos of the two worlds more acutely than Verity Richards. Lavigne brings Verity’s synesthesia into sharp focus, or perhaps the polar opposite, on every page. The writing is so vibrant and visceral as the reader experiences the world in the same cacophany that assaults and overwhelms Verity’s own senses. Her descriptions may confound those around her who simply write her off as insane, or who cannot understand her experience for themselves, but for the writer, the way that she processes the world around her brings that same world to life poetically for the reader. Her world is full of pain, misunderstanding, and confusion, but it is also filled with hope and healing.
There are two perspectives that can be taken from within the book: one is of magical realism, and the other could simply be the story of a girl whose illness prevents her from experiencing the world as it truly is. From Verity’s side of the story, the world that has confounded her since childhood is finally coming into focus as she stumbles upon a group of individuals who, also outcasts, have fostered incredible talents that allow them to also the people and the environment around them. Here she finds her place in the between, although she is still learning who to trust, who may cause pain, and who is there to better the world. The other perspective, a much more frightening perspective, is that of those outside of the between. This majority group no longer sees magic in the world and since they no longer know, they can easily write off those that do experience this magic as crazy. This group threatens to stifle those like Verity with medication, hospitals, and homes for the ill. The reader is told repeatedly that there is a war going on and all we can do is follow along and hope for the best.
This prose is pact full of description. It’s a deceptively short looking book, but it does require a lot of concentration to fully absorb every piece of information that Lavigne shares. It’s a book that will challenge you and it’s beautifully composed. It blooms and grows as you move through the pages, teasing you with little bits of information. I loved that it didn’t hand everything to the reader. It trusts in the readers’ patience and intelligence to take time and mull over the descriptions. If you let it, the descriptions will consume you and sweep you away. A total success: 5 out of 5 stars and a very high recommendation.