Friday, October 21, 2011

Eyes to See - Joseph Nassise


About the book
In an urban fantasy that charts daring new territory in the field, Jeremiah Hunt has been broken by a malevolent force that has taken his young daughter and everything else of value in his life: his marriage, his career, his reputation. Desperate to reclaim what he has lost, Hunt finally turns to the supernatural for justice.
Abandoning all hope for a normal life, he enters the world of ghosts and even more dangerous entities from beyond the grave. Sacrificing his normal sight so that he can see the souls of the dead and the powers that stalk his worst nightmares, Hunt embarks upon a strange new career—a pariah among the living; a scourge among the dead; doomed to walk between the light of day and the deepest darkness beyond night.
His love for his departed daughter sustains him when all is most hopeless, but Hunt is cursed by something more evil than he can possibly imagine. As he descends into the maelstrom of his terrifying quest, he discovers that even his deepest fears are but prelude to yet darker deeds by a powerful entity from beyond the grave…that will not let him go until it has used him for its own nefarious purposes.
304 pages (hardcover)
Published on: Oct. 11, 2011
Published by: Tor
Author’s webpage

Thanks to the wonderful people at Tor for sending me a copy of this book to review.

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I’m having an incredibly hard time writing this review, and I’m not exactly sure why. First off, this book was described to me by some other reviewers as being a horror novel and maybe I just don’t read enough horror, or I don’t get scared enough or something, but I really don’t think this is horror. It’s more of a kind of creepy urban fantasy – a darker, more cynical Dresden Files. That's not a bad thing, mind you. It's just something I feel the need to point out.

Eyes to See starts with a compelling line, “I gave up my eyes in order to see more clearly.”  This line automatically draws in readers and makes them want to learn more. The beginning of Eyes to See is incredibly emotionally compelling as readers are drawn into the hard luck world of Jeremiah Hunt. This story is told mostly in the first person and due to how interesting and emotionally drawing Hunt can be, the first person perspective really works.

Part of the reason this book can draw readers in so easily is because of how sympathetic readers will feel for Hunt and his determination to give up everything, including his sight, to find his missing daughter. The first part of the book sets this up nicely and also gives readers a bit of history with a few flashback chapters thrown in here and there. However, somewhere toward the middle Eyes to See looses a bit of it’s compelling and emotionally drawing nature as another character’s third person perspective is thrown in. This really wouldn’t be a problem, but this character is rather uninteresting and at this point the book stops primarily focusing on Hunt and his missing daughter and focuses more on a current-day murder mystery. While the murders are rather creepy, what draws readers in is the story of Hunt and his daughter, not creepy murders in Boston. The loss of that strong part of the story is keenly felt.

The cast of Eyes to See has a bit of everything many urban fantasy fans will enjoy, only a bit darker and more creepy – perfect for the Halloween season. Hunt’s (dis)ability is interesting enough to stand on its own, as he can only see ghosts and other specters. He also has two ghostly companions who lend him their sight and strength when needed, adding a nice touch to things and a bit of mystery as Hunt tries to figure out who they are and why they help him. Along with that is a powerful witch and the only Russian who runs an Irish bar in Boston. The companions work together to solve several murders that I can just picture being found in film someday. On the flip side are a mysterious antagonist and a detective with an attitude problem.

Eyes to See is a pretty unique mystery, however, the reader will answer the big questions before the characters figure it out. This can be both frustrating and entertaining at the same time. It can be rather frustrating to have the big mystery figured out in a book that hinges on its mysterious aspects. However, since the characters don’t know what the reader knows, how the ending will play out is anyone’s guess. That being said, the book never really recovers from the loss of the emotionally jarring first section and the ending is no exception as it has a rather rushed feel, though there is some good closure found there and a nice setup for future installments to the series.

Though Nassise is a great writer, this book, in some respects, missed its mark for me. While I loved the first portion, I found myself lamenting its loss quickly. I would have loved the whole of Eyes to See to follow in the same footsteps as the first emotionally jarring section. However, it doesn’t, and basically readers are left with a novel that reads like it’s Harry Dresden’s big brother. While I am confidant that this will appeal to a great many readers, it may leave others with a bitter taste in their mouth. Though I do have my quibbles with the book as a whole, I do feel Nassise has set up a strong foundation to a potentially riveting series and despite its drawbacks, I really enjoyed my journey through Nassise's world. His world is well built and peppered with interesting characters and a well done magic/supernatural system which is supported nicely with Nassise’s descriptive writing that really makes things come alive. Eyes to See is worth checking out, just give the book time before you let an impression form.

4/5 stars

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