No one has to tell Verity that the world is a strange place. For her, the world has always been strange. What the protagonist of C.J. Lavigne’s trippy contemporary fantasy novel, In Veritas, doesn’t know is that there are others who are out of step with reality. Likewise, Verity doesn’t know that she’s about to be asked to be a hero to those who don’t fit into our mundane world.
Verity Richards has always experienced a particularly extreme version of synesthesia, one that delayed her ability to talk to others and eventually saw her committed to a mental health facility. As the book opens, Verity has just found a street magician who appears to actually be doing magic. The dog at his side is transformed into a snake before disappearing. The audience claps and throws money. Verity, however, recognizes that the dog and the snake are the same creature. It’s magic that’s disguised as a trick. It’s also the first hint to Verity that the way she experiences the world is not wrong. In fact, Verity’s synesthesia is the perfect way to experience the world the magician introduces her to. This new world features a sickly angel, a vampire that feeds on sanity, and a woman-like creature that stabs Verity as soon as they see each other.
One might think that the stabbing would send Verity running from the world of the Between. One would have a lot more common sense than Verity. That said, I can completely understand why Verity stays. The Between and its inhabitants don’t think Verity is strange or that her synesthesia needs to be medicated away. In Veritas, after the surprises of the beginning, slows down. It lingers over the plot and the backstory of how all of these people ended up where they are. Eventually, Verity learns of a handful of conflicting plots to either save or destroy the Between people.
I wish that Verity had been more of an active protagonist. She strikes me as more stubborn than anything else. Sure, she wants to learn but she doesn’t really ask questions or investigate things. Verity just seems to let the information come to her, which left me with a lot of questions. The ending of In Veritas caught me by surprise when things suddenly got violent and the stakes got raised sky-high. While the ending answered my questions of how and what, I want to know why all of that happened and why the ending had to happen the way it did. Readers may enjoy the originality of In Veritas, but I suspect that people who pick it up will also be left with questions about what the hell they had just read.
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, for review consideration.