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Book Review: The Beast Without

The Beast Without was a delightfully refreshing paranormal tale. It centers around Reylan, a vampire Blood Shade (oops, Blood Shades hate that v-word) and Jorgas, a Flesh Master (the proper term for werewolf).

Reylan is suitably wealthy, refined, and intelligent. After all, he’s been alive for quite some time and being what he is, he’s developed a neat little life in Sydney. He feeds regularly, but he doesn’t kill the young men he feeds from. He uses his hypnosis to help get them back to his place, gives them a night of pleasure, feeds, and then wipes their memories, leaving them none the wiser.

He has a friend, Ross, another Blood Shade, a favorite little diner with a human proprietor who knows what he and Ross are, and a tenant living above him who meddles, but is generally harmless. Oh, and he has a cat. (For the animal lovers reading, I’ll allay all your fears here. Nothing happens to the cat in the book.)

One night, after ensnaring an unsuspecting human for some feeding and casual sex (sex for the human, for Reylan is and has been for years, impotent due to his condition), the two of them are attacked by a werewolf. Jorgas, the lost and frightened Flesh Master, nearly kills the human. Reylan defends himself and Jorgas realizes what Reylan is.

Enter the Arcadia Trust. They’re a shadowy organization that contacts Reylan and asks him to bring Jorgas in. They want Jorgas off the street, want to educate him about what he is and how to control himself. But is there more? They’re antagonistic and, well…shadowy. They don’t trust Reylan, but they know they can use him. Reylan doesn’t trust them either, but he reluctantly agrees to help them.

From there, the book takes you on a whirwind of activity. Reylan searches for Jorgas, though the boy seems to find him more often than not. There’s danger, near death, clubbing, all narrated in Reylan’s sometimes snarky, sometimes arrogant, and sometimes self-deprecating humor.

The mystery of who’s killing the club kids is just one part of what makes this book great. There’s so very much here that my fingers are crossed that the author will be writing more books with these characters. Who is Patricia? What is Father O’Bear’s agenda? Isobel knows something. What is it? Even Ross has secrets from Reylan. And why are Reylan and Jorgas in the center of it all?

The world that Baines has built is rich and dynamic. He’s explained the origins of Blood Shades, Flesh Masters, Shapers (witches), and more. Did you know that most of what humans know about Blood Shades is a myth? They don’t make other Blood Shades. It’s a genetic thing that happens in a person’s mid-twenties. Garlic isn’t going to hurt them. They do need to avoid the sun and they can be staked. But pretty much all the other mythos surrounding them has been carefully cultivated by them to hide their appearance from humans. Baines’ characters are extremely sympathetic in some ways, easy to hate in others, which makes for a fantastic emotional journey for the reader. I admit that when I reached about the 80% mark in the book, I actually put it down for two days because I didn’t want it to end. I was enjoying it that much.

From a technical standpoint, the writing and editing are top notch, and there are exactly the right number of answers and unanswered questions on the final page.

This is a highly recommended paranormal read. I’ll definitely be following Baines’ work in the future.

**This review originally appeared on Author Alliance.**


5 out of 5 stars

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