Through the Veil by Isobel Bird
Through the Veil is the ninth book in the Circle of Three series, which chronicles three teenagers’ journey through a year-and-a-day of discovering and exploring Wicca. If you haven’t yet come across these books, I suggest you stop reading now and head back to book number one So Mote It Be, as the books are very closely tied together and it’s near impossible to read them out of chronological order (which is annoying, but there you go).
The three girls are Kate, Cooper and Annie (the ex-popularity queen, the rebel and the nerd are their individual personalities in a nutshell) and in Through the Veil they are fast approaching Halloween — Samhain in the Wicca calendar. Samhain marks the thinning of the veils between the living and the dead, which is especially relevant for Annie considering her parents passed away when she was young.
This title deals mainly with Annie — she is approaching her sixteenth birthday, and has asked her aunt if she can take a visit to San Francisco for her present. She lived there with her parents before they were killed in a house fire that she accidently started. Now she’s been having disturbing nightmares about them and seeks out a way to communicate with them. As such, a few Wiccan rituals are thrown in — a meeting with a physic, a circle taken place at Annie’s old home, and the coven’s Samhain celebration itself which involves some symbollic “role-playing” along the same lines as the events that took place in What the Cards Said and In the Dreaming. Not that that’s a bad thing — these gatherings are pretty much the only reason I keep reading these books.
Meanwhile Kate and Cooper are dealing with their own (less critical) problems. Kate’s parents are vehemently against her involvement in witchcraft and react by sending her to a therapist, confiscating her Wiccan tools and forbidding her from seeing her boyfriend or from attending her Wiccan class. Cooper on the other hand has quit her band due to the fact they aren’t interested in playing her Wiccan-themed songs (fair enough, I say — she doesn’t half over-react!) and just found out that her parents are separating.
As you can see, the plot is all over the place and often comes across as messy with the constant switching points of view — if would have felt more focused if Isobel Bird had chosen one girl and developed her personal story more fully (Annie’s is certainly the most important, but Kate and Cooper get just as much screen-time). On top of the three stories outlined above, Bird also crams in a love interest for Annie’s aunt, a physic that communicates with Annie’s parents, and a truly bizarre transsexual witch — I’m sorry, but I couldn’t quite see the point of that particular character.
Through the Veil is one of the more interesting installments, despite the lack of a clear storyline and the hopelessly cheesy ending. The Circle of Three books are hardly high literature, but for me they’re quick, mildly entertaining reads. The three girls are sympathetic enough to justify getting hold of other books in the series.