Sins of the Son

by Christian Baines

Sins of the Son - Christian Baines
Part of the The Arcadia Trust series:
Editions:Paperback - First Edition: $ 14.99
ISBN: 9781999570804
Size: 5.50 x 8.50 in
Pages: 282
ePub - First Edition: $ 4.99
ISBN: 9781999570811
Pages: 282
Kindle - First Edition: $ 4.99
ISBN: 9781999570811
Pages: 282

Abandoned by his werewolf lover, the only thing Reylan wants is to return to his vampire life of blood and beautiful boys. It’s a solid plan, until his first meal as a single man tries to kill him.

Hoping to free his young would-be assassin from the religious zealots that sent him, Reylan enlists the help of Iain Grieg, a charismatic priest with unsettling knowledge of the night’s secrets.

Surrounded by conflicting agendas and an army fuelled by hate, Reylan fights to secure his future, if he can only trust the mysterious priest and bury the ghosts of the past.

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Excerpt:

I ducked in time to avoid the stake that shattered the glass cabinet behind me. When I looked up, my young attacker was already closing in, a shining blade in each hand. Balancing my weight on the kitchen counter, I pushed my feet hard into his chest. A blade nicked my ankle. I leapt upon my target and pushed him the floor, gripping his chin and pinning his right shoulder.
He blindsided me across the jaw with the dull edge of the other blade, breaking my hold.
I staggered, sizing up the left-handed assassin. Narrowly avoiding his weapon as he lunged again, I grabbed hold of his hair and threw him into my dining table with a crash.
I clapped a firm hand over his mouth, muffling his cries as I slammed his left wrist against the table, forcing him to drop the knife. The blade in his opposite hand flashed as he struck out with it.
I yanked him off his feet and dragged him across the floor before he could find his mark.

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Ignoring muffled roars of protest, I buried my teeth in his shoulder, puncturing through his flimsy mesh vest. His youth, his anger, his alarmingly good health, all brought such a warmth and sweetness to…
The foul taste of bitter roots spoiled the stream. Poison. I shoved the boy away, spitting rancid blood over his face. When he came at me again, I used his momentum to topple him into the living room. I snatched up the knife he’d left on the kitchen table and trained it on him as he regained his feet.
The boy had to have known the true nature of his prey. Why else would he lead with a wooden stake, knowing he was far outclassed for natural speed and strength? Or was he?
He lunged again, this time happily using his right hand. Was he ambidextrous? I couldn’t tell, not while ducking his blows. He kicked me in the gut before pivoting his back foot up and into my chest.
I dropped to the floor just in time to sweep his legs out from under him. His forehead glanced off one of the side tables, though this didn’t stop him from grabbing the lamp and throwing it at me with a force that plunged the room into darkness. I caught his weight as he came at me again, spinning him into the living room, bound for a set of shelves which splintered and collapsed, spilling their contents and my attacker to the floor. He sprang to his feet and snatched up a piece of broken wood.
Contrary to the myths of horror fiction, it would take more than a splinter of wood through the heart to kill me outright. I was not, however, in a rush to be paralysed, nor left unconscious at the mercy of whatever lethal objects remained in the boy’s backpack. The one he’d collected from the club’s cloakroom, that he’d so adamantly held onto when I’d offered to carry it. The one he’d taken with him, when he’d retreated to my bathroom to change.
Did I have to start bag checking my trade now?
He sliced the air before me with his knife, following it up with a staking attempt. I grabbed his knife-wielding hand, but he twisted his arm out of reach, nicking my hand in the process. I licked the wound as I backed off, kicking away a broken cat figurine from the rubble that had once been my bookshelves.
“Alright, you little bastard,” I muttered under my breath. “Are we going to talk, or does this get nasty?”
“Maledetto.” He raised the stake once more.
“Excuse me?”
“Maledetto!” He cried, striking out at me.
I ducked to avoid it only to have the hand holding the knife slam into my jaw. I barely realised I’d been faked out before the stake plunged into my chest, missing my heart by inches. Choking down the pain that shot through my entire body, I caught the boy’s arm before he could slice my throat. Not that that would have killed me either, but to quote a wise and much underrated human expression, that which does not kill me still stings like a bitch.

COLLAPSE
Reviews:E. M. Hamill on E. M. Hamill wrote:

Christian Baines' SINS OF THE SON is my favorite kind of pulp novel. Morally ambiguous supernatural beings, intrigue, clandestine organizations, and eldritch creepies? Sign me up! The novel starts off with a bang and doesn't let up until it's taken you on one hell of a ride.

I give it a solid 4.5 stars.

The book is actually part of the Arcadia Trust series. I hadn't read the first two (something I will have to change, as I really enjoyed this world). It reads just fine as a stand alone; there are enough explanations without being tedious, but my unfamiliarity with some of the terms took a little bit of adjustment.

Case in point: Reylan, the main character, is a Blood Shade, and he is rather adamant that he is NOT a vampire despite the allergy to sunlight and appetite for hemoglobin. There is a really interesting mythos attached to the supernaturals in this book that makes it different from any other origin stories with which I'm familiar, and I like it. It's unique, and I have to say that about the whole book.

Reylan's usual MO to find dinner and a little recreation is cruising Sydney's gay scene. A young man approaches him, and what starts as just another night for Rey ends in an attack on his life by this soldier of the Scimitar of Light, a hate-based religious warrior group. But there is something both painfully familiar and very wrong about his attacker, and Reylan calls in his friends at the Arcadia Trust to help him get to the bottom of it.

A priest named Iain Greig insinuates himself into the care of the young soldier, and Reylan is powerfully drawn to him. As the mystery begins to unravel, the evil truth about the Scimitars and their zealous desire to destroy all supernatural beings comes to light—and they are willing to deal in forbidden magic to get what they want.

Meanwhile, Reylan's irresistible attraction to Iain is getting in the way of business, but there's more to Iain than Rey can possibly imagine. The survival of the Arcadia Trust hangs on whether Reylan should trust this mysterious stranger.

This book was a blast to read. The secondary characters are well-drawn (I loved Dorotha, Reylan's elderly downstairs tenant: "Oh, I'm sorry, Reylan, is this one of your 'special' parties?") The end of the book definitely hints at more to come with a bit of a cliffhanger, but it's wrapped up enough to be satisfying. I would highly recommend it to anyone who wants a change from your everyday vampire/shifter/witch kind of lore.

Melanie M on Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words wrote:

Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

As I read my way through Sins of the Son (Arcadia Trust, #3) by Christian Baines I couldn’t help but think about how far the main character, vampire Reylan, has come from that first meeting back in The Beast Without. For sheer ferocity and merciliness there were few beings who could best him. Reylan was an apex predator in his prime. And if I’m to be honest, I admired that in his character as it seemed; true to his nature and all the vampires as Baines was using them here. At the time, it was far from the sparkling, sort of bloodless vampires ruling the year at the time. It was refreshing.

But Reylan was intelligent as well as predatory. And the author had a complicated, magically dense narrative arc in store for the characters and series so as the intricate plots developed, so did Reylan’s emotional growth. Through loss, through revelation, through devastating events in the first two novels, we saw Reylan gather together an odd sort of crew or family and change. Sins of the Son represents another step forward in this character’s process and I find it endlessly fascinating.

Astonishingly full of action and mystery, we enter into a scene of chaos, another reason to love this story and series. There’s no easing in, nor given the nature of theses beings and the various storylines, should there be. I hesitate to talk about the plot, the new characters introduced, or even the older ones that appear again. It’s all a part of a labyrinthine tale that’s still working it’s way through the pattern the author has plotted out, and the path ahead is murky indeed. Delightly, horrifically so.

I loved the twists and turns here,some downright shocking as the deaths that flowed and the blood that spilled. The ending itself is one long incredibly white knuckle horror flight that’s just amazing.

Christian Baines has written three books that build on each other like superlative supernatural building blocks, full of gorgeous passionate, and yes deadly characters in an incredible world of magic and the mundane, which is getting more layered, more fantastical by the story. I can’t wait for the next book to arrive.

If you are looking for swooning romance, or soft hearted any other type of love, truly this is not the tale for you. Love there is but not for the faint hearted. I find this a series and book to sink your teeth into and highly recommend it. If you are new to it, start at the first novel. I have listed them all for your convenience below. I love and recommend them all.

Cover art: I think this really works, especially the font with the different color lettering and the person in the background. Well done.

Camille on Joyfully Jay wrote:

Rating: 4 stars.

Blood Shade (aka vampire) Reylan has had a hell of a time recently. Jorgas, his lupine lover, has abandoned him without so much as a by-your-leave. Ross, another lupine, died saving Reylan. And now, the zealous Scimitars of Light are out to destroy Blood Shades, Flesh Masters, Shapers, the Mutilated, and all other manner of supernatural beings. Reylan ranks high on the list of “most wanted” for his romance with Jorgas and finds extremely powerful and deadly adversaries literally popping up out of nowhere.

Seriously outgunned, Reylan has no choice to but seek the help of a powerful organization called the Arcadia Trust. As he tries to piece together how the Scimitars are executing their attacks, he manages to get one of their own fighters to cooperate with his effort—a young man named Luca, who just happens to be a relation of Ross’ with a powerful mix of supernatural powers. Even with the cooperation of the Arcadia Trust, the Scimitar attacks grow in frequency and intensity. Reylan finds the most unexpected help: a priest named Iain. But there is far more than meets the eye with the curious, collected priest, who takes the revelation of supernatural beings roaming the streets of Sydney with aplomb. Despite the danger, Iain proves handy in tracking down Luca when the youth runs away…not to mention a powerful distraction from the Scimitar attacks. Just as Iain gains Reylan’s trust—and perhaps a whole lot more—the truth about his supernatural origins begins to slip out. Reylan and Iain will have a lot to discuss, provided they can survive the onslaught of Scimitar forces.

First, a few housekeeping notes. Sins of the Son is the third book in the Arcadia Trust series; per the author, this book can be read as a standalone novel. Having not read the previous books myself, I can attest that there is plenty to enjoy about Sins of the Sons without having any prior knowledge of the characters or their world…save, perhaps, a firm grasp on what kind of being everyone supernatural actually is. The three major categories are eventually cleared up: Blood Shades are vampires, Flesh Masters are werewolves, Shapers are warlocks. There are a couple others, but if there is a common name for them (chiefly Mannequin and Cloak Walker), I am at a loss for what that might be. Plus five points for creativity, minus two points for poor execution.

The highlight of the book for me was the relationship that develops between Reylan and Iain. Baines makes it clear that Reylan had a lover, a werewolf named Jorgas, who abandoned him and that Reylan clearly still has deep feelings for the MIA shifter. This is part of the reason I was so rapt with the way the relationship between Reylan and Iain develops. Reylan initially sees Iain as someone needing help and Reylan, despite his coolly aloof attitude, is a sucker for a guy in need. What starts as a cautious offer from Reylan to help Iain develops into something more. I found this particularly riveting because it feels like Reylan is never going to give up on Jorgas, but he might lose his heart to Iain. For fear of spoiling things, let’s just said there is far, far more to Iain than merely being a magical priest—it’s both scintillating and a little heartbreaking. It’s a long, slow build up, but I know I’ll be mulling over Reylan-Iain-Jorgas for a while.

More than just about anything else, Sins of the Son offers action. Much on-page time is dedicated to describing battles between Reylan and various “baddies” sent by the Scimitars. As a newcomer to the series (and jumping in at book 3), I appreciated how Baines structured the first-person narrative. Reylan’s comments during the battle helped me understand what is and is not deadly to Blood Shades in this universe. A side effect of the commentary on what weapons/attacks would cause Reylan serious problems, however, was a seemingly constant stream of baddies with weapons that wounded Reylan in unexpected ways. The first few comments from Reylan about “geez, that wounds not healing like it should, this fight is going to be hard” ramped up the drama factor. Unfortunately, these types of injuries happen constantly and there is little follow-up about if/how/when the wounds heal. Ultimately, this had a desensitizing effect. By the time the Really Big Battles roll out at the end, I had a hard time judging just how much trouble Reylan and the others were having.

The frequent fighting in the book serves not only as a way to escalate the action (the baddies get increasingly more powerful/increase in numbers), but also a way to grow the supporting cast. The sheer volume of violence forces Reylan to seek help from more and more places—an estranged friend, his former Blood Shade mentor, the lady from the diner… With each addition to the cast, we get a little hint of what transpired in the previous books. Personally, I thought this approach to filling in backstory was hit or miss. The estranged friend worked well enough because the attacks brought Reylan and his friend back together. The lady from the diner worked just fine because she occupied only a minor role in the story. Ross was a miss because there was nothing to demonstrate the depth of friendship Ross and Reylan shared (Ross apparently died to save Reylan…but that’s literally all we know about it) or to flesh out why Ross’s association with Reylan so angered his Scimitar family. That said, for those who have read the previous books (and assuming the whole Ross thing is laid out in detail there), I think limiting the mentions of Ross to “he died to save a friend” would be pretty effective at evoking all the emotions of his arc (note to self: read books 1 and 2).

Overall, I would agree with the author’s opinion that it can be read as a standalone and still be plenty enjoyable—especially for fans of action and paranormal/vampire stories.


About the Author

Christian Baines has written on travel, theatre, film, television, and various aspects of gay life, factual and fictional. Some of his stranger thoughts have spawned novels, including queer urban fantasy series The Arcadia Trust, the horror novella Skin, and Puppet Boy, which was a finalist for the 2016 Saints and Sinners Emerging Writer Award. Born in Australia, he now travels the world whenever possible, living, writing, and shivering in Toronto, Canada on those odd occasions he can't find his passport.


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