I really was excited to start a good paranormal that looked very intriguing from the descriptive blurb. Sons of Devils by Alex Beecroft was not only something that sounded interesting, this would also be the first time I had read anything by this author, so for me this was a double bonus. When, after just a few pages, I began to worry that I had somehow missed a forward explaining some of the language in the story that was completely foreign to me, I should have let that tip me off as to what I had gotten myself into—and it was not going to be an easy paranormal read with a bit of historical fiction thrown in for good measure.
There were times when this story absolutely lost me–enough times that I almost stopped reading and asked to be released from reviewing. It wasn’t that the story was slow—it was, at times, but that was not the real issue. It wasn’t just that the characters were shallow due to the author having to unpack an entire fictional world complete with multiple races of people who interacted briefly and then disappeared, leaving me wondering why they were introduced into the story at all. It wasn’t that the main character, Frank, was rather lackluster and his love interest, Radu, was questionable to say the least. No, when it came right down to it, the story was so incredibly disjointed and ended with introducing an entire new cast of characters in an entirely different locale that left me more than confused as to exactly why the author chose to create a sequel before really establishing the original two men as a couple, so I could feel invested in hoping they would survive whatever was to come next.
The premise of the story, which I wasn’t really sure of until nearly three quarters of the way through, was this: Frank and two friends have set out to find an ancient relic that supposedly has both magical powers and is inscribed with ancient texts from the lost city of Atlantis that could unlock even more magical lore. Along the way they are attacked and everyone but Frank is killed. He barely survives and is helped briefly by some Roma gypsies who tell him he needs to make for the next town before sunset. Badly injured, Frank nearly makes it, but discovers a young girl tied to a post who is being sacrificed to some unknown horror that ends up pursuing Frank. He narrowly escapes only to be taken back to the castle of Radu—a harsh, strange land baron who hides a most disturbing secret—one that will nearly cost Frank his very life. That is the first three quarters of this novel. Then the author takes us to another country and introduces us to a simple mage who is called to the palace to assist a stark raving mad King and that is when effectively I was lost for good.
If I just confused you, I apologize, but honestly I cannot really tell you much more primarily because I didn’t understand this novel. Radu and Frank were meant to be attracted to each other, but given that the most we read about them was that Radu fell asleep in Frank’s room many nights while he was recovering and that they finally did travel to this mystical site to see the relic, there was barely any interaction between them. To be honest, there was much more page time given to the girl that Frank originally sets free and saves. She is apparently some sort of shape shifter who can hide her really identity and take on the form of others at will—she has done so in order to find a way to kill the very creatures to which she had been sent as a sacrifice to at the opening of the story.
There are vampires, at least two of them, but we never really see them in action until they threaten Frank and, even then, it is limited. We never get a real sense of Radu’s terrible burden as to why he is bound to them until the very end of the story and by then we were also to believe he felt something for Frank beyond the cold contempt he had thus far exhibited toward him. Unfortunately, because there was no real sense of his even liking Frank at all, it was hardly believable that he would care enough to give in to the vampire’s demands.
In the end, there was just too little connection between the characters to make me invest myself emotionally in the story. When the author chose to begin her sequel by introducing an entire new cast of characters here who I am sure will eventually tie back to Radu and Frank, I was pretty much done by then. I had no interest in trying to unravel this new person and their story. It was just too much of the same—all shadows and no substance. This was a novel that was filled with language that was so unusual and never fully explained, with rituals that were introduced and never unpacked, and characters that barely interacted and yet we were to believe genuinely cared for each other. In the end, Sons of Devils by Alex Beecroft was just a story with too much page time that had too little plot development.