Eyes to See – Jeremiah Hunt #1
by Joseph Nassise
October 11, 2011
Hardcover, 320 pages
$7.99 (mass market paperback)
Review copy borrowed from the library.
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.
Jeremiah Hunt is more than just a guy who can see dead people, to use the famous phrase from The Sixth Sense. He does much more. Although he became blind after a spell he was doing to find out the whereabouts of his missing daughter went south, he learned he is one of the Gifted, people who have some kind of supernatural strength or tie. In his case, it’s the ability to use ghosts as his seeing eyes, and they give him a lot more than just plain old sight. A Boston police officer, Stanton, figures him to be a psychic and uses him for crime scene investigations, while unbeknownst to him, Hunt is actually using Whisper, one of his pet ghosts for lack of a better term, to show him the ghost of the murdered person, and maybe some clues as to how they died.
He’s also something of a ghost exorcist for hire, as we first see him at the beginning of the book driving out a spirit from a building that was lingering too long because of unfinished business, and causing the other residents harm.
There are different kinds of ghosts in Nassise’s version of Boston, some more powerful than others, and at one murder scene, the murderer leaves a clue to bait him into thinking it has something to do with his daughter, Elizabeth’s disappearance, something that caused him not only to lose his daughter but also his wife, Anne, who left him when he became utterly consumed and obsessed only with finding Elizabeth. But Hunt doesn’t know he’s being baited. Against his will, he teams up with the local bartender at Murphy’s, Dmitri, and finds out what this Gifted’s strongest asset is (it’s very unique and definitely something you don’t see all the time), as well as a hedge witch, Denise, even further against both of their wills. But eventually they all come together and realize that they’re hunting a fetch, another term for a doppelganger, but this creature is so much more than what you might be thinking of when you think “doppelganger.”
Usually when we think “doppelganger” we think of them as someone’s evil twin, and that this creature can only take on the shape of the one person it’s pretending to pass itself off as. But Nassise’s fetch is so much more. The fetch is created when a sorcerer wants to create an evil shade version of itself to commit foul deeds or get it more power, but the fetch isn’t limited just to looking like the sorcerer it originated from. It’s a creature of magick, so it can assume anyone’s shape, and get rid of their forms to take on a new one like a snake sheds it old skin. This fetch has very sinister plans for Hunt and has successfully baited him with the lure of one of Elizabeth’s charm bracelets, which makes Hunt determined to find the person who has been leaving a trail of dead Gifted people in its wake.
I thought the fetch and the sorcerer, when revealed, turned out to be excellent as the antagonists, and I’ve added Hunt to my collection of favourite male urban fantasy leads. Aside from the cooler aspects of his condition, and his unique eyesight and relationship with ghosts, he’s a different kind of lead, which is nice to see. He’s not just the typical wise-cracking, sarcastic, embittered loveable jackass who endears the reader and earns a spot in his or her heart. He’s an incredibly damaged and vulnerable man despite the strengths that he does have. He’s not invincible. He has flaws. Deeply human flaws that resonated with this reader, and it was a refreshing change from the typical male leads that we’ve been seeing in urban fantasies in the last few years. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some James “Sandman Slim” Stark and Harry Dresden as much as the next guy, and think they’re both ten shades of awesome, but Jeremiah has a subtlety and an innate vulnerability that makes for a different kind of reading experience, and ultimately, a more intimate connection to the protagonist.
I think that without a doubt, even though it came out last year in 2011, Eyes to See is the absolute best urban fantasy novel I’ve read this entire year (and I’ve read a lot of them). It’s a stunning start of a new series, and I cannot bloody wait to get my hands on a copy of the next book in the series, King of the Dead which recently came out.