THE OPEN PORTAL
Conquest of the Veil #1
By MICHAEL SCOTT CLIFTON
Genre: Fantasy / Paranormal / Magical Realism
Publisher: Book Liftoff
Publication Date: May 1, 2019
Number of Pages: 337 pages
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But with dreams, there can also be nightmares
Lonely and plain-featured, Mona Parker is just another faceless teenager at Spring Hill High School. One day she runs afoul of Lady Anne Golightly, a beautiful and arrogant classmate who turns Mona’s colorless life into a hellish existence. Bullied relentlessly and with nowhere to turn, Mona considers suicide. One night, Thaddeus Finkle, her guardian angel, appears. He offers her a way out—swap lives with another.
The choice seems easy, and Mona takes the angel up on his offer. She awakens on Meredith, a parallel world of Earth where magic has replaced technology. Mona discovers she is Alexandria, a woman of breathtaking beauty, and the daughter of a Duke complete with servants and riches.
Then she discovers the price of her bargain.
Trapped behind the Veil, an impenetrable curtain of magic, the Duchy of Wheel is the last major province still unconquered by Marlinda, the creator of the enchanted barrier. Known as the Dark Queen, Marlinda’s cruelty includes a singular fondness for melding men, women, and children, with animals…and she has special plans for Alexandria.
Tal, the Prince and Heir of the Empire of Meredith, burns with an intense hatred for Marlinda and her minions. The Dark Queen’s raiders regularly cross the Veil to prey upon the helpless citizens living near the magical boundary. Despite an elaborate system of Watch Towers along the enchanted barrier, it is impossible for the Empire to stop all the raids. Desperate to protect his people, Tal takes dangerous risks to prevent these attacks. Banished to a remote garrison for his reckless behavior, while on a routine patrol, Tal leads an elite unit that happens upon a group of raiders—one whose leader possesses the means for opening a way through the Veil.
Thus begins the conquest of the Veil.
“The Open Portal is packed full of action from the time it begins in our mundane world, to when it jumps to another. It has all the elements of a good fantasy: a cruel queen; a frustrated prince; and beautiful girl with a pure heart. There are brave boys, werewolves, white priests, and watchtowers. I can’t wait for the saga to continue.” — Abookanight
The Open Portal was aptly named for its grand use of fantasy, adventure, and dizzying effect of imagery. Often reading through the lush descriptions were like walking through a portal myself. I was reminded of many of my favorite fantasy novels as well throughout this book. Continuously impressed by the details and wild imagination, I’m definitely recommending this one to fantasy lovers.
There was great appeal to Mona. She isn’t the characteristically beautiful protagonist that drives many YA fantasies. She also begins her story as a semi-well adjusted, charitable person that cares for others. Her story is more than the growth she goes through but the journey to discovering more outside yourself. Despite a vicious bully and apathetic caregivers, she continues to be kind to her brother and keep surviving. Complex in many ways, her emotions are wrought with doubts and desperation for shreds of happiness. A weak link taken advantage of by a sassy ‘guardian angel’.
Now in the body of Alexandria, beauty and power come with danger and responsibilities. A thousand year war that has ravaged Meredith with blood thirsty monsters created just for evil purposes. Clifton does not shy away from the graphic nature of their image and misdeeds. Mona’s-or rather Alexandria’s-kindness could be her strength in this whirling and twisted fantasy.
Razor was my second favorite character. As deadly as he is vicious to even his own kind, his scenes immediately gripped me with the turbulent nature of what’s to come. The author had an incredible sense of character development throughout all the many characters we jump to. I did occasionally have to write a note for names and places though. I’m guilty of doing this before so this may just be me.
With all fantasies, I become frustrated with wanting to share everything that’s happened and my thoughts. I’m very anti-spoiler so I’ll say that this book was very enjoyable. I read it in a quiet room to a crowded auditorium and it felt like there was no difference. Distractions didn’t exist when I’d truly become captured in this world.
Michael Scott Clifton, a public educator for over thirty-eight years as a teacher, coach, and administrator, currently lives in Mount Pleasant, Texas with his wife, Melanie and family cat, Sadie. An avid gardener, reader, and movie junkie, he enjoys all kinds of book and movie genres. His books contain aspects of all the genres he enjoys…action, adventure, magic, fantasy, and romance. His fantasy novel, The Janus Witch, received a 5-Star review from the prestigious Readers’ Favorite Book Reviews, and he has been a finalist in a number of short story contests with Edges of Gray winning first place in the Texas Authors Contest. Professional credits include articles published in the Texas Study of Secondary Education Magazine. Clifton’s latest book, The Open Portal, launches the fantasy book series, Conquest of the Veil. In addition, look for the YA novel, Edison Jones and the Anti-Grav Elevator, to be released soon. He is available public speaking.
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