If you’ve followed this blog for any length of time, you know that if I had to choose a favorite genre I read it would more than likely be either Urban Fantasy or Paranormal Mystery. Heck, if you had to pigeon hole the type books I write, we’d have to say the one thing they have in common is that they’re all pretty much paranormal mysteries. Not sure why this is. I just know it’s a preference. There’s something fascinating about things that go bump in the night and something absolutely riveting about the heroes that struggle against those same Night Bumpers. I guess that’s why I like them so much.
My first real excursion into the genre, however, was Harry Dresden, wizard P.I. from Chicago who is about as snarky as he is powerful. You all know about him because I’ve talked about the Dresden Files books a number of times. But since discovering Dresden, I’ve been on a constant lookout for great paranormal reads…from Anton Strout’s Simon Canderous series (which I enjoy) to a few series (that will remain nameless) that I don’t. But the point is, I’m always on the lookout for a great paranormal series.
So one day, I was perusing the Sci-fi/Fantasy section of my local Barnes and Noble and ran across the latest book by my friend Joseph Nassise and wow…it definitely caught my eye. I mean, look at the above cover…seriously…can you blame me? I know. I know. We’re not supposed to judge books by their covers and all that, but seriously…we all do. That’s why publishers spend so much money on producing great looking ones. Covers will determine whether an individual reader will even taken notice of the book. And this one certainly did.
Now like I said, I knew Joe from Facebook, but I’d never read any of his books before. Didn’t really know what his stuff was like…but that cover just drew me in and so, I did the second thing publishers hope prospective readers do: I picked the book up and read the back cover copy. And wow! Was I hooked! Here’s what it said:
Jeremiah Hunt’s life has fallen apart in the months since his daughter’s disappearance. Once a happily married and respected Harvard classics professor, Hunt’s obsessive search for his daughter Elizabeth has cost him his job, wife and reputation. In a last desperate attempt to discover Elizabeth’s fate, Hunt performs an arcane ritual that robs him of his eyesight in order to see “that which is unseen”. Now, he can see what others cannot: ghosts and other pernicious creatures of the night. Using his new gift, Hunt embarks on a strange new career and begins to earn a meager living by chasing away the wayward spirits that torment the living.
With the help of his ghostly companions, Whisper and Scream, he searches for clues to Elizabeth’s fate… until he falls into a trap laid for him by a particularly cunning foe and winds up accused of committing a series of brutal murders. What begins as a quest to save his daughter turns into a desperate search for truth. But his search will lead him to an all-consuming battle against an ageless, malevolent force that would use a father’s love for his daughter to set itself free. If Hunt can’t stop it, his adversary’s terrible revenge will destroy him, Elizabeth, and countless other innocents.
Yeah, like I was going to pass up this book with a premise like that. So, I read it and have to tell you, I instantly became a Joseph Nassise fan. The book was amazing, but much different than what I am used to.
Up until this book, my urban fantasy forays have all been somewhat carbon copies of Harry Dresden…meaning light-hearted adventures with wise-cracking protagonists. And while Eyes to See’s Jeremiah Hunt is a bit of smart aleck, the overall atmosphere of the story is much darker than I am used to. This, of course, was a good thing. It reminded me, actually, of a perfect blend of Jim Butcher’s contemporary fantasy set in our real world with the serious traditional folklore that one would see in a William Meikle novel.
Caveat here though…Jeremiah Hunt is far from a likable character. As a matter of fact, he can be downright irritating and unlikable. But that’s part of the beauty of this book! Despite Hunt’s abrasive and standoffish demeanor, you truly come to care for his character. I don’t know how Nassise did it to be honest. To create such a jerk of a protagonist, but to weave the story in such a way as to endear him to the reader so well is tribute to Joe’s skill as a writer. But don’t get me wrong…Hunt does have his redeeming qualities. The absolute devotion and commitment he has to his missing daughter is something very rare in this kind of fiction, I think. It was very real. And very encouraging. Yes, this devotion caused the character to lose everything…including his wife and his eyesight…but you have to admire a father who is literally willing to go to Hell and back to save his little girl.
Other characters in the story are equally enjoyable…from the beautiful hedge witch who agrees to help him to the Russian criminal berserker who shapeshifts into a polar bear. A fellow couldn’t ask for a better set of partners. But it doesn’t end there. Perhaps Hunt’s coolest friends are Whisper and Scream…the ghosts of a little girl and a massive musclebound man who offer their services to Hunt when in need.
But if you want to know the coolest character and aspect this book has it would have to be that of “The Preacher” and the horrible ritual that strips hunt of his fleshly sight and gives him the ability to see ghosts. The Preacher is a mysterious, and super creepy, man that Hunt runs across during his hunt for his daughter (think Poltergeist 2, I believe…you know, that creepy preacher dude from that movie? That’s how I sort of envisioned him anyway). Now the Preacher, you figure right from the start, is really nothing of the sort. There’s something evil and menacing about the man, though you have no idea why. He provides Hunt with a book that reveals a ritual that will allow him to see into the unknown. The old man doesn’t tell him that it will deprive him of his sight though. And so, desperate and willing to try anything, Hunt goes through with it, thus opening the world of the supernatural up to him in ways he never dreamed possible. (Oh, by the way, one REALLY cool trick of this ritual…though he’s blind, his “ghost sight” gives him near perfect vision in complete darkness. I love that!).
I won’t go into detail about the story or the villain. And I definitely won’t go into the ending and how much I thoroughly enjoyed the rather dark twist that occurs. Let’s just say this…this book truly had heart. It was dark, yes. It was tragic, most certainly. It left you asking questions that we might not be comfortable asking ourselves at times (such as “How far would I go for someone I loved?). This was not just one awesome popcorn munching read (though it certainly was that)…there was just something more about it. Something that’s difficult to really nail down. Let me just say this…if you enjoy great urban fantasy, you’ll want to give this one a shot. Definitely a five star book in my opinion.
Oh, and by the way, here’s a link to the Amazon page now if you want to check it out:
But you say, “Kent? The headline said that you’d be reviewing some book called KING OF THE DEAD too?” Yep. But don’t worry, the sequel to EYES TO SEE is every bit as satisfying as the first book. In it, our heroes Jeremiah Hunt and his pals head to New Orleans, following a series of visions of a city on fire. Well, heck…why not just show you the back cover copy:
In a devil’s deal, Jeremiah Hunt sacrificed his human sight in exchange for the power to see the hidden world of ghosts and all of the darker spirits that prowl the streets. Hunt uncovered a world of murder and magic that took his daughter from him and nearly cost him his life, but that was only the beginning…
Now, Hunt is on the run from the FBI, who have pegged him as a mass-murdering dark sorcerer. His flight from the law is diverted to New Orleans when his companion, a potent witch, has a horrific vision of the city under magical siege. When they arrive, they realize that the situation is more dire than they could have imagined: the world of the living faces a terrifying attack by forces from beyond the grave.
Yeah, let me say that as much as I reveled in the villain from the first book, the monsters (dark shrouded hags known as Sorrows) and the main villain, the soul-shrouded King of the Dead definitely upped the ante several notches for our heroes. And the outcome was ultimately satisfying. Loved this book just as much as the first!
I will say, however, that this book had one or two continuity issues that should have been caught by the editor. They weren’t Joe’s fault and it didn’t distract from the awesomeness of the book, but they were noticeable. For instance, in one scene, a character mentioned that time was running out because the Winter Solstice was approaching. However, it wasn’t until a few chapters later that the heroes discover that the Winter Solstice was even a deadline for what was happening. This is just one example of about three such incidents in the book and I only reason I bring it up is that some of you might notice and I wanted you to be fully aware.
Still, as I said earlier, I loved this book and know you guys will too. The rich use of mythology for this series is so promising to me. Nassise isn’t rehashing the same old monsters here. He’s digging deep into creatures that have hidden in the shadows of our collective imaginations for centuries, but haven’t really been explored and I love that about this series.
So yeah…get out there and pick up your copy of these two books today! You won’t regret it! Oh, and here’s a link to KING OF THE DEAD:
I envy you right now because you get to discover this great series for the first time now. Me? I have to sit on my hands with pins and needles as I wait for the third book in the series. Haha! But at least I can entertain myself while I do by reading Joe’s International Bestselling Templar Chronicles series next.
Oh, and find out more about Joseph Nassise at his website here