"King of the Dead" Book Review
Written by Steve Pattee
Published by Tor Books
Written by Joseph Nassise
2012, 352 pages, Fiction
Released on November 27th, 2012
In general, book series and sequels are often better than film franchises. David Wellington's "Monster" series (Monster Island, Monster Nation, and Monster Planet) and F. Paul Wilson's “Repairman Jack” novels are but just two examples that come to mind where each book is a welcome addition to that writer's universe. I have on deck the sequels to Graeme Reynolds' High Moore and Dana Fredsti's Plague Town, and I am confident I will enjoy both because statistically it's inevitable. The same can't be said of movies. You can't say that every Hellraiser movie is worth watching. Or every Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street, or the numerous other film sequels, prequels and reboots that populate the genre. No doubt this is due to the fact that the creators of the first generally don't have much participation in the movies that follow, unlike in books where the same author is writing the newest addition each time (for the most part). So, as you can imagine, when Joe Nassise's King of the Dead (his sequel to the very fun Eyes to See) came across my plate, I had my usual expectations of this type of novel: high. I was not disappointed.
King of the Dead picks up not long after the events of Eyes to See. Our heroes – Jeremiah Hunt, Dmitri Alexandrov, and Denise Clearwater – are on the run and hiding out from the FBI and police as Hunt is a suspected serial killer and Dmitri is wanted as an accessory. While Denise has flown under the radar up to this point, it's only a matter of time before she's marked as a known accomplice of Hunt's.
The three have done a pretty good job of avoiding the law, living on the beach in New Jersey, but when Denise, a psychic and witch, has a series of visions that draws her to New Orleans, the trio head down south to see what's what. Turns out, something is killing those with special abilities in The Big Easy, and Hunt, Denise, and Dmitri join forces with Simon, the Lord Marshall (aka the sheriff who resides over those with magical powers) in New Orleans, to find out who is killing the gifted, and why.
Provided there is a talented author behind writing it, books in a series will often stay consistent in quality from the first book onward. Joseph Nassise is a talented writer. Not only is King of the Dead every bit as good as Eyes to See, in some ways it's even better. Eyes to See did what every first novel in a projected series is expected to: it introduced the key players and laid the groundwork for what's to come. In that first book of the Jeremiah Hunt chronicles, we learned how Hunt got the ability to see the dead (magic), how much power Denise has (a lot), and were teased on how much of a badass Dmitri is. In King of the Dead, things move faster, as the basics are already out of the way. This affords Nassise to really cut loose with his characters, which is a special treat for us readers because if you thought Dmitri was a formidable foe before, wait until you see him in action here. The man is a force to be reckoned with.
King of the Dead is told in both first- and third-person narrative, the former being Hunt's point of view and the latter being Denise's. This is an interesting approach, one I don't come across that often, and I'm on the fence about it. One part of me feels it can take away the mystery of things. Instead of just knowing what Hunt knows, you get Denise's knowledge as well. Since this is a supernatural/mystery/thriller, I'm not averse to being kept in the dark on certain aspects of the story. But the other part of me is fine with it, as long as it's handled well. Fortunately, that's the case here. Both characters are just as clueless on why things are happening with the same goal in mind. It's just two sides of the same story. (And don't worry, the different narratives are done by chapter, with the name of whose point of view it is at the heading of each. There is no confusion.)
If you read and enjoyed Eyes to See, this one is a no-brainer. It's every bit of good as that, with more action, more victims, more monsters, more ghosts, and more of Dmitri kicking ass. King of the Dead can easily be read without reading Eyes to See as Nassise does a pretty good job of getting you caught up to where you need to be without giving away too much. However, I shouldn't have to tell you to read them in order because you'll have a better experience. Either way, King of the Dead is one to read if you enjoy a little thriller with your horror.