In Watcher of the Dark, Author Joseph Nassise expertly carries on the exploits of his vision-impaired protagonist, Jeremiah Hunt. The author incorporates information from the two previous books in the series with fine precision. Although no prior reading is required to understand and appreciate the latest adventure, the premiere novel starring Hunt, Eyes to See, and its sequel, King of the Dead, are extremely worthwhile in their own right. While Nassise elevates recapitulation to an art form in Watcher of the Dark, it’s the prose and plot that shine. The narrative crackles with punchy dialogue, and features numerous spooky scenes that will thoroughly engage horror fans.
Jeremiah Hunt is on the lam in Los Angeles, fleeing New Orleans and the trailing FBI who suspect him of murder. The City of Angels proves less than heavenly for Hunt, who is strong-armed by a nefarious occultist with tremendous local influence. The nasty coercer is the major mage in town, and holds the title of Magister: “Imagine Gandalf with all his mystical power as a Mafia don with an army of foot soldiers to do his bidding and you’d have a pretty close approximation of what a human magister is capable of.”
Among The Magister’s cohorts are a seductive half-demon, a sorcerer with a chip on his shoulder, and a man who possesses something like supernatural radar. Hunt, because of his own uncanny abilities, is blackmailed into becoming an unwilling part of the team. Their goal is to locate an ancient artifact, the key to The Gates of Hell. The quest leads the motley crew into skirmishes with horrific entities, detailed by first-person narrator Hunt: “The spectre let out a bloodthirsty shriek of outrage and dove toward me, its body morphing as it came. Its hands grew larger and more elongated, its fingers turning into nasty-looking claws designed to rend and tear, eager for my flesh, while its mouth filled with multiple rows of teeth that looked razor sharp.”
Adding to the difficulties that Hunt faces are a couple of personal complications — involving both body and soul. Hunt’s persona is periodically invaded by a murdered man with a monumental grudge. When the psychic parasite takes command, Jeremiah is used as a vessel for its actions. These include a highly gory torture-slaughter. A perk of the possession, though, is the wild copulation with the aforementioned alluring half-demon. Ilyana Verikoff has been hot to trot, but the consummation only occurs when Jeremiah’s body is otherwise occupied. Her early overtures were rebuffed and deflected: “The last thing I needed was a sexual relationship with a half-human, half-demon hybrid that ate spectres for breakfast and tossed the heads of vampires around like baseballs.” Hunt finds that the best laid plans do sometimes go astray, and he has the bruises to prove it.
Despite the bizarre tryst with Ilyana, Hunt retains special romantic ties with witchy woman Denise Clearwater. They are spiritually and physically bound to one another. Their reciprocal devotion is highly complex, and makes for fine dramatic tension.
Entangled relationships from the prior novels persist in Watcher of the Dark, and will likely continue in the book(s) to follow. Thanks to the considerable writing skills of author Joseph Nassise, those entanglements enliven the narrative and ensnare the reader. His next Jeremiah Hunt book is awaited with interest.
Hardcover, 304 pages, $25.99
Available From Tor Books on November 19th, 2013