The Mesmerist – review of an urban fantasy novel

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Namo Namaha, today I am reviewing an Urban Fantasy novel by Joseph D’Agnese named The Mesmerist.

Book Name – The Mesmerist
Author – Joseph D’Agnese
Genre – Urban Fantasy
Publisher – Nutgraf Productions
Year of publication – 2014
Goodreads rating – 3.64


This is an Urban Fantasy novel set in 1970s New York City. People with special powers called Thinks or quinks (used as a slur) lead obscure, nearly invisible lives to avoid persecution and bias. In a world subtly divided by thinks and unthinks where the general population is largely unaware of the thinks, murders start to occur. Somebody is stealing the life force of the people. A cop with deep personal issues and a mysterious federal agent begin the race to catch the killer, who could be a powerful think.


This novel started off really well. The atmospherics were done right. You could literally imagine New York City in the 70s. The writing style is free-flowing and unhindered. The story was interesting enough but not too gripping. By midpoint, I lost all interest and I wanted to DNF it, but the story picked up by the third part of the novel and my interest returned.

What didn’t appeal to me?

  1. The perplexing thing about this novel was the use of multiple viewpoints, both in first and third-person narrative. It was disconcerting in the beginning and I did get used to it eventually. I think it would have been nice if the author had stuck to a single type of narrative, maybe third omniscient?
  1. Also, there were no trigger warnings given in this book (none that I am aware of) and trigger warnings for child abuse and nudity should definitely have been there. Johnny, Tod’s brother’s life was heartbreaking. I almost had a physical ache when I read some parts in which Johnny featured.
********************** Trigger warning - Child abuse scene mentioned below****************************************

For example:

My father went for my brother’s slender wrist. Yanked him off his feet and out from under the bleachers. Shook that kid out like a picnic blanket full of crumbs.

 ************************  End of Trigger warning **********************************************************************

The above sentence hit me very hard. I am quite a visual person. One of the reasons I enjoy books so much is because they let me visualize the scenes in a way that works for me. But such scenes are a curse for me because I get deeply affected by them and take time recovering from it. Had I any clue of the child abuse described in this book, I probably would never have picked it up. (There are only a handful, nay, maybe 2/3 scenes/mentions of child abuse but even that is enough info for me to accept/reject a book.)

Johnny never caught a break, the poor thing. I equally blame the mother as much as the father. If somebody’s not against the injustice they are with it! She didn’t do a thing to save her sons from her maniacal husband. Yes, maybe, we can justify her actions saying that in those times women neither had the financial freedom to leave their abusive husbands and take care of their kids on their own, nor, the social support to do the same. But, it breaks my heart just the same to think that the mother chose passivity to escape the horror and allowed her sons to bear the brunt of her husband’s rage.

  1. There were also a few glaring editorial errors that bothered me a bit. For example:

Hough repeatedly refused Flusche’s advances and placed the doctor under a “maniacal spell, causing me to experience torturous visions and pain from limb to limb. This experience lasted only long enough for the subject to escape.’

Note the error in the quotations and the mix up of points of view? I am not sure if the errors are specific to my kindle copy or if they are in the printed versions too.

What appealed to me?

I liked the writing style of this Author, specifically the way he described the atmosphere. For example:

The theater and peep show lights flickered, making the interior of the car look jaundiced, then bloodied, then jaundiced again.

Weren’t you able to visualize the scene right away?


All in all, it was an OK story, not too memorable, but, a quick and interesting read. Would I recommend it to somebody? Probably not. Do I regret reading it? Again, a negative. No, I didn’t regret reading the novel but I have read better.

Review, recommendation, and rating

Freebie – worth reading if it’s received as a freebie or gift

Rrkreads rating – Freebie grade. Read it if you would like to get the feel of 1970s New York City and have some time to pass.

My GoodReads rating – 3 stars

So friends, over to you now. Have you read this book? What are your favorite Urban Fantasy books? Do let me know in the comments section. I’ll be glad to chat. Till then, stay blessed and happy. Om Shanti.

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