*4.5 Stars* What an incredibly fascinating and unique world Burtenshaw has created. I honestly can't believe that this is her first book. I was completely enthralled after reading just the first chapter, and the story grabs onto you and doesn't let go until the last page. Kate Winters lives in Morvane on the island of Albion, where she works in her Uncle's bookstore. When she was five her town was harvested by the wardens; people were collected and rounded up to be sold as slaves or to become soldiers in the never-ending war against the Continent. Kate was spared, but her parents were not. She hid in a secret spot while her parents were dragged away, never to be seen by Kate again. The wardens descend on the towns to look for the Skilled as well - people that can enter the Veil; the land of the dead. Kate is fifteen now and she doesn't know it yet, but she is destined to be one of the most powerful of the Skilled in ages, and more than one person is looking for her.A lot of times in fantasy novels the author gets hung up on creating some crazy fantastical world and the story gets lost while you try to make sense of things. Burtenshaw takes something that is unbelievable and makes it easy to understand. There's a sense of tense excitement throughout the whole novel, and you can't help but want to turn the pages faster and faster to find out what will happen to the characters. Kate doesn't believe in her abilities and the Veil at first, but the rate at which she accepts things is both imaginable and feels real. Kate wants to help what is left of her family and friends, and tries to do what she thinks is right. She isn't so stubborn that she kicks and fights against her fate; she takes hold of it with both hands. At first, Silas Dane is the supposed villain of the novel, but his role exists in a decidedly grey area. He's a tortured man whose soul has been blackened against his will, but his and Kate's lives become forever enmeshed together.The imagery that Burtenshaw uses to describe the world she has created is magical. I could imagine everything clearly, which can be a difficult feat when different realms and rituals are involved.I loved the characters, was fascinated by the world, and drawn into the story completely. I've read that at least two more books are planned in this series, and I wholeheartedly look forward to reading them. This was simply a great first book by a new author, and one I'll watch for years to come.