Frances Galleymore – Veritas: Finding the Goddess

One fateful night Jona Jones is kidnapped from her idyllic island home, and held for re-education by the authorities. When she escapes, her community has been destroyed and she can only save her mother’s life by a dangerous journey… through the otherworld of Veritas. Here devas, shaman and warrior women teach Jona healing, magic and defence against dark adversaries, until the earth goddess provides a gift for all humans – if Jona can return with it.

Veritas was an enjoyable book, which I really did like, even though the following might not make it seem like I did. Veritas is somewhat of a parable, whose message and metaphors sometimes got in the way of the story, at least for me. This was unfortunate, as the core story takes an interesting mixture of dystopia and otherworldly realm, where the magic realm, Veritas, is an allegory for the body, its emotions, and systems. At each stop in Veritas Jona, and the reader, learns a life lesson, which she needs to leverage to be able to complete her journey.

I liked the passages in Veritas the best as they were more cohesive and felt less rushed. Some of the events described in the books, especially in the earlier parts and the parts set in the city seem rather abrupt and hiccuppy; Jona spends about a year trapped in the city of Gulgot but the entire time from her capture to her escape to Iscelt is described in 45 pages. I would have liked to have seen more of Jona’s time there. How did she avoid indoctrination, how did she manage to keep her spirit up and stay sane? These would have been interesting concepts to have visited more in depth. At times the story felt rather too linear, a sort of “now we go here and do/learn this so we have solved another part of the quest”-quality. As with the allegory, this intruded upon the narrative for me. Then again, Koning van Katoren, one of my favourite childhood books, which I read and reread countless times, has the same problem for me now, so that may be due to the fact that I’m a bit old for the story.

One of the strong of the novel was its protagonist. Jona is a strong and clever girl, who puts duty before herself. While this might lead to an annoying too perfect lead, Jona never crossed into that territory for me; she never rubbed me the wrong way in that respect. And I’m always a sucker for talking animal companions, so her relationship with her dog Serious drew me to her as well. Another character I liked was Taman, the tree man. He started out seeming to be just one of her guides in Veritas, but he turned into much, much more. I kept hoping he’d turn out to be Jona’s father, but that part of her parentage wasn’t revealed, unfortunately.

What was very clever was the shift the narrative tense. The parts of the story told in the real world are told in past tense and the parts set in Veritas are told in the present tense. This makes it easy for the reader to distinguish where they are and lends an immediacy to the adventures in Veritas, which reinforces the importance of Jona’s quest.

While I’ve found many things to complain about, I did like this story, though I think its better suited to a younger (and perhaps less critical) audience. The book is definitely for the YA set and leaning towards the younger end of that scale, at  that, one might even argue it’s suitable as an Middle Grade novel. If you can turn of the analytics, which I couldn’t, then Veritas would make a great book to read with a preteen. I know that when Emma is old enough, I’ll definitely put the book into her hands and see what she makes of it.

This book was sent to me for review by the author.