Eyes Deep by Tim Marquitz

Rating 8.5/10
Left me intrigued and wanting to know more.

Eyes Deep by Tim Marquitz is a novella length story aimed at introducing readers to his forthcoming Clandestine Daze series. While this may be an introduction to a new series, the story itself is self-contained and complete, with a satisfying ending that has me looking forward to what Marquitz might do in this new world.

The story follows a man named Theodor Crane, except we aren't really following Theo, we are following the doppelganger who has killed poor Theo and assumed his entire life. Who the doppelganger is, what he can do, and who he works for is shrouded in mystery after mystery, with the layers slowly peeling back to reveal a secondary supernatural world called Aellisar that exists alongside our own mundane world. The doppelganger is an Ael - a creature of Aellisar - and he has taken over Theo's life to get a chance at stopping a war between our world and Aellisar.

There is a lot of weirdness to absorb during this story, but Marquitz does a good job of spreading it out so we don't have a steep learning curve. The story isn't long enough to gain a deep understanding of Aellisar, the Ael who inhabit it, and the history of tensions between our world and Aellisar, but we do get enough to at least feel invested in the story. I feel like this will pay off when Marquitz writes his first full novel, because we will already have a grasp of the basics and Marquitz can hit us with some more complex or nuanced exposition.

Characterisation is, in my opinion, a strength that is evident throughout every Marquitz story. He knows how to write interesting and engaging characters who appeal to us despite all the bad things they do. The doppelganger is a bad man, a guy who pulls the trigger with little remorse, because it is not his job to care. At least that is the person we get to know at the start of the story. By the end we get to see a man who is bound by employer, a man who pulls the trigger for the greater good, a man who has faith in his superiors because they have never failed before. Again, this novella is not big enough to get a full appreciation of the characters and their complex motivations, but I certainly formed an attachment to the characters and I do want to know more about them.

Eyes Deep is a solid introduction to a new world that has left me intrigued and wanting to know more. The recurring message in this review is that what we were given is not enough, and while I was left satisfied at the end, I wonder what this could have been had Marquitz gone for a full novel length story. I'm definitely invested, and I will be back to see where this story goes next.

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