Sunday, December 4, 2011

Eyes to See by Joseph Nassise (REVIEW)

With a cover like that, how could you resist picking up EYES TO SEE? Well, the story behind it might fall a bit flat from the amazing promises the book sets out. A decent urban fantasy book, it suffers from a few issues that bring it down a notch.

EYES TO SEE by Joseph Nassise
Published October 11th, 2011 by Tor
318 Pages
Hardcover received from publisher for honest review
Order from Amazon

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.
The back of EYES TO SEE promises a lot. A scary, thrilling, dark urban fantasy novel that will leave you wanting the lights on while you sleep. For me, it didn’t quite reach that level. With 275 pages of buildup to a climax that was extremely convenient, EYES TO SEE doesn’t live up to the aspirations I had for it when going in. It’s a decent beginning to a new urban fantasy series for adults, particularly fans of THE DRESDEN FILES and CSI, but it could have been so much better.

EYES TO SEE is the story of a former Harvard classics professor named Jeremiah Hunt whose daughter is kidnapped without a trace. His wife leaves him, he loses himself in the process, and he finally performs a ritual that allows him to gain the ability to see ghosts, among other supernatural beings that inhabit Boston. The goal is simple – he wants to find his daughter. Five years have passed since she went missing, and a string of murders has given him the break he needs to find the killer. Except now he needs help.

The biggest asset of this novel is great world-building. From ghosts to witches to Norse legends, everything is covered, and it’s covered well. Nassise’s imagination is given a chance to flourish here, combining together myths, legends, and real stories well to create a

For the first 275 pages, the story is fine. It moves along at a nice rate, there is plenty of interesting world-building to keep you enticed, and there is nothing particularly wrong about this. Yes, the narrator can be hard to connect with (his daughter’s disappearance made him almost insane), and the POV changes did throw me off a bit. The story switches between first person past in the now and in the past, in addition to third person POVs from the villain and two other characters. If the story had stayed with Hunt, I think the narrative would have been tighter and less spastic. The way it was, I enjoyed it, but it could have been better.

I think one of the problems I had with it was the fact that the beginning was great, but the story went downhill from there. By the time we reached the climax and the big reveals and the conclusion, it felt too contrived, too convenient. When mixed together with plodding pacing during action scenes, where Hunt stopped in the middle of the narrative to suddenly piece together clues in long monologues, it slowed things down and squandered what could have been an amazing ending. Nassise clearly has the ability to craft a great urban fantasy novel, but somehow EYES TO SEE ended up being nowhere near as amazing as it could have been. Yes, it was a good novel. Yes, I would recommend it to fans of Jim Butcher and procedural urban fantasy novels. But I think it could have been a lot better.

 VERDICT: Amazing world-building and the author's burgeoning imagination are letdown by little emotional connection and a flat climax that seemed too convenient to be plausible. Still, if you like urban fantasy with a male protagonist, it's worth a look.


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