Review: Insight by Santino Hassell

insightRating: 4.5 stars
Buy Links: 
 Amazon | iBooks | Amazon UK
Length: Novel

Nate Black grew up in a family of psychics, but no one taught him how to use his empathic gift. In fact, he was taught early on not to talk about his skills at all. Nate doesn’t get on well with his family, and has been estranged from his twin Theo for years. But when Theo turns up dead in New York from an apparent suicide, and a vision suggests that Theo may actually have been murdered, Nate takes off to try to figure out really happened.

With no money, Nate starts off hitchhiking and is picked up by a good looking engineer headed to New York from his school across the country. Trent is a little wary about picking up Nate, but the two men end up getting on well. Nate has learned not to trust many people, especially since as an empath he is constantly picking up on other people’s negative emotions. But for some reason, Nate feels a sense of peace and calm with Trent that he almost never experiences with anyone. Since it turns out they are going to the same place, Trent offers to take Nate the whole way to NYC. The guys make some stops along the way, getting to know one another and starting to build a real connection.

When the guys get to the city, they aren’t ready to say goodbye, so they keep in touch while Nate gets to work figuring out what happened to Theo. He tracks down a club where Theo used to play with his band, and there he discovers a world he never knew existed. There is a group of psychics that have banded together and formed a group called the Community for their joint benefit. Publicly these guys say all the right things, but Nate has a lot of reservations about the organization that seems almost cult-like in their behavior. Nate learns that Theo isn’t the only missing psychic, and it clear the Community does not take kindly to anyone asking questions.

As Nate digs deeper, Trent is by his side. But Nate begins to worry that he is somehow using his empathic abilities to influence Trent’s feelings for him. Trent is the only one he trusts and feels comfortable with, but Nate fears Trent’s feelings are not real. But as Nate begins to learn more about what happened to Theo and what is really going on with the Community, he and Trent must stick together, even as they are fighting for their lives.

Insight is the first book in a new series by Santino Hassell and what a wonderful start! The book is engaging, exciting, and establishes some wonderful world building that really has me eager to see where the series goes from here.

As the story starts out, we meet Nate and his family. They are from a small Texas town and everyone thinks them kind of strange. Nate lost his mom young and has a rough go of it as the weird, gay kid. He has never quite fit in, so when he gets a vision of Theo’s last moments, Nate takes off to find out what is going on. The first portion of the book is kind of a road trip story as Nate and Trent travel to New York. I enjoyed this part as we get to know both men and see them learning to care for and trust each other. We don’t necessarily get a lot of backstory on Trent, but this part of the book works well to show the growing bond between the men and help us get invested in them as a couple before the investigation part of the story.

Once the guys get to New York, Nate begins to look into Theo’s disappearance and is introduced to the Community. Hassell does a great job here with the world building as we learn along with Nate about psychics, different abilities, and the Community itself. Nate grew up not even knowing that there were other psychics out there besides his family, so he is curious but also wary. The more Nate digs, the more he questions what he is being told. But knowing who to trust is hard, especially when almost everyone he interacts with has some sort of ability to control or gain insight Nate may not want to share.

They mystery here is well done and unfolds over the course of the book, with things getting twistier as we go. There is a nice resolution here to Nate and Trent’s story and to the investigation into Theo’s death, but the overarching plot does continue. The next book features new MCs, so I assume Nate and Trent are wrapping up here, at least for now, but things that they learned along the way appear to be coming into play in the next book. So be aware the series arc is understandably not resolved here.

My only real issue here is that things got a little slow in the middle. I think this is just a side effect of being the first book in a series and there being a lot of world building and characters to introduce. I never felt like it was info dump, and the case and Nate’s background both give us good reason to be finding things out along with him. But there are so many people to meet and things to learn that there is just a lot of talking here, and less action than in the early and later parts of the book.

So I am really excited about this series, I must say. I loved Trent and Nate together and liked that they get together early and are a source of strength for one another, but we still see them working through some things. And I really enjoyed this world that Hassell has created and see so much potential. I am definitely hooked and can’t wait for more.

jay signature


  1. I’m definitely interested in reading this. Thanks for your review, Jay.

  2. Nihcki S says:

    Best review I’ve read so far, because now we know what the book is actually about plot-wise. Thanks for the info; I’ll be adding this to my TBR pile for sure.

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