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Eyes to See
by Joseph Nassise
A Tor Book, 2011, $22.99, 318pp
Release Date: October 11, 2011

“I see,” said the blind man.

Jeremiah Hunt is blind, but by choice. After his young daughter Elizabeth was kidnapped and law enforcement failed to find her, Jeremiah sacrificed his ordinary vision in an arcane ritual in exchange for the ability to see the spirit world, hoping to find word of his daughter from the dead. But the ghosts had no news for him of Elizabeth . Now Jeremiah parlays his second sight for quid pro quo: he helps Detective Stanton solve murders; in exchange, he is in a position to learn of any new information the police may come across regarding his daughter’s disappearance.

What Jeremiah does not realize is that Elizabeth was captured as a pawn in a much bigger game. Alternating with Jeremiah’s narrative, the reader is given clues to the nature and motive of his non-mortal enemy. Jeremiah, aided by two ghosts he calls Scream and Whisper and a magic-wielding young woman named Denise Clearwater, begins to piece together the clues and leads, but the threads he is following are being woven into a trap to catch him by a malevolent entity.

I love the glimpses of the otherworld Jeremy’s sight makes clear, the descriptions of rituals and magical protections, and touches like the historical explanation of the Danvers Sanatorium – I hadn’t realized before reading this that the name of the maid in Rebecca, played so chillingly in the film by Judith Anderson, was a deliberate indicator of insanity. Spoiler alert! (Skip to next paragraph if you wish to be surprised as you read the book for yourself.) The best part of the story, in my opinion, is the bear. Nassise absolutely won me over when that bear showed up.

This story has many intriguing elements and is, for the most part, competently told. There are a few glitches. Stanton is a trifle cliché-laden. (But then, cops so often are, even in real life, neh?) And there is no way Jeremiah is only 32 years old, as stated on page 74, if 17 years ago he and his wife Anne, “who had just made partner,” had bought a house. Not even Ashton Kutchner was that precocious. There are also improbabilities involving the ease with which Jeremiah finds taxis in bad neighborhoods and emerges unscathed from atmospheres filled with shards of flying glass. The difference between a good book and a great book is, in a great book, details like these are thought through and realistically resolved, according to the parameters of that story’s reality. As an explanation, “luckily” should only be resorted to once, at most twice, unless you make Luck an actual force of the story, magically as in Liavek or genetically as in Niven’s puppet-masters’ universe. That being said, this is a good book, and readers will find a great deal to enjoy.

The main storyline is satisfyingly resolved, its questions answered, but warnings and promises are given that demand a sequel. More is to follow in King of the Dead. – Chris R. Paige

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