Gee, where to begin. . ?

I have rarely been this impressed by a novel, let alone a debut. Vellum certainly ranks among the best books of the year -- of any year.

With Vellum, Hal Duncan immediately established himself as one of the most gifted authors out there. With amazing aplomb, this novel takes speculative fiction into uncharted waters. Ambitious, innovative, unique, Vellum is a truly rewarding read. Duncan's talent and imagination defy description. With this debut, Duncan pushes the boundaries of what is considered speculative fiction even further. And in so doing, he defies every label.

The worldbuilding is nothing short of brilliant. The Vellum is an eternal realm of multiple realities where angels and demons -- the Covenant versus the Sovereigns -- wage a devastating war across time, space, history and mythology. The diversity of realms, realities and locales is fascinating, as is the arresting imagery of each age and place.

The protagonists are a handful of people who want nothing to do with this all-encompassing conflict. Yet both factions attempt to force them to choose a side, for neutrality is not an option. Vellum is not written in linear fashion, which means the readers have to work to make sense of the disparate storylines. But the book more or less teaches you how to read its content. Hence, one grows less disoriented as the story moves along forward and backward through the different epochs and dimensions. Nevertheless, it remains a challenging read.

And for those of you who enjoy "deep" works of fiction, Vellum is permeated by political and social advocacy regarding the concept of war, gay rights, the influence of religion, the conflict in the Middle East, and so much more. All of which adds yet another layer to a work which stands out in the current market like a shining beacon.

Let me make myself clear: Buy this book!;-) If you'll let it, Vellum will mesmerize you. Duncan's fertile imagination will take you on an unbelievable journey that will keep you begging for more. And the author's impeccable prose and witty and ironic writing style makes Vellum a "top notch" read. Do yourself a favor and read this novel. You won't be disappointed.

As for me, I can't wait to read the sequel, Ink. With such multilayered plotlines, this is the sort of tale one can read again and again, always realizing that there is a panoply of things that slipped past your attention in previous readings. Yes, it is that impressive!

The final verdict: 9/10

For more information about Vellum: Canada, USA, Europe

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