The Unseen Face by Joannes Rhino Review -4/5 Stars

Title: The Unseen Face

Author: Joannes Rhino

Rating: 4/5

Purchase: The Unseen Face on Amazon

“The Unseen Face” is one of those rare books that forces you to turn the page.  I was enthralled from beginning to end.  The official synopsis of the book is as follows:

“James Maddox must face the demons of his past and question everything he thought was real; even his own memory.

James was used to living without emotion after losing his Emilia unexpectedly; he gave up on happiness the day she died. His plans for their future, of marriage and kids, died right along with her. He preferred feeling numb, rather than feeling the pain of losing his dreams. That all changed the day he received an anonymous letter in the mail with just three words: I am innocent.

James began dreaming of Emilia that same night. However, his dream quickly becomes his nightmare as she haunts his sleep, demanding he knows the truth, that he faces the unseen. And what is hidden threatens to change James’ life forever.”

I found the writing in this novel to be virtually flawless.  Not only was it perfectly edited, but Joannes Rhino’s characters were like faceted jewels.  Not only were there many different sides to them, but he fully developed every different side.  He also added an edge of horror to his novel by incorporating the death of Emilia into the novel.  This edge was just enough to keep the reader haunted and curious.

The main character, James Maddox, is a deeply disturbed character.  However, despite his depressing attitude and frustrating demeanor, I wanted to keep reading so that I could be with him and go through all of his emotions as well.  The sadness he experienced throughout the novel was so beautiful and almost endearing.  It was like a drug and I kept craving more.

However, I found the way that Maddox holds Emilia on a pedestal to be perplexing.  Despite being dead, she still haunts his dreams and doesn’t allow him to develop any other romantic relationships.  He seems to let the memory of her control him and many times I wanted to shake him out of what he was going through.  He can’t even seem to handle work or friendships very well because of how obsessed he is with Emilia.  I found this most interesting because I don’t think that when Emilia was alive he would have held her in such a big spotlight.  It was like he was addicted to her memory and the sorrow that came with her death.  Since reading about the beautiful sadness was a drug for me, I can see how it was a drug for him.  Since she was gone she was out of reach and therefore angelic.  He seemed to only remember the pain she went through and treated her as though she were flawless, likeable to an angel.  He was using her as an excuse to fall into his illusions which slowly turned into madness.

I gave this novel 4/5 stars instead of 5/5 because of how repetitive the character of James Maddox could be at times.  For the most part he was well developed, but I thought that there was too much emphasis on how highly he felt about Emilia.  I found this to make his character desperate and unlikable in some parts of the book.  However, I do understand why this was an important aspect to portray to the reader in terms of story.  I just think that this depressing, two dimensional side to James could turn some readers off.  It would have been better if there weren’t so many long passages that dwelled on his lost love.

But there were also some parts of the book that used foul language in a demeaning way towards women.  This was meant to represent an aspect of the character that was using the foul language, but I do think that readers should be aware of this aspect if they are sensitive to this kind of language.

Overall, I couldn’t stop reading this book.  I keep finding myself thinking about James and Emilia and the haunting mental torture that he was put through.  This novel was full of mystery and intrigue and I wanted to keep reading to find out what happened.  The tragedy of Emilia’s death was bittersweet and carried this novel out in a unique way.  I have never read a novel that was so disturbing or enjoyable and I highly recommend it.
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