The Beast Without
Reylan is everything a Sydney vampire aspires to be: wealthy, handsome and independent, carefully feeding off companions plucked from the gay bars of Oxford Street.
When one of those companions is killed by Jorgas, a hot-headed young werewolf prowling his streets, Reylan reluctantly puts his cherished lifestyle of blood and boys on hold to help a mysterious alliance of supernatural beings track down the beast. It can’t be that hard … not when Jorgas keeps coming after him.
But there’s more to this werewolf than a body count and a bad attitude. As their relationship grows deeper and more twisted, Reylan tastes Jorgas’ blood, reawakening desires the vampire had thought long dead. And what evolves between them may be far more dangerous than some rival predator in the dark…
Contains mature content.
|ISBN 9781922120434 (PB, 234pp) – release date 15 June 2013;
152mm x 229mm
|AUD $33||USD $24||CAD $27||NZD $36||GBP £16||EUR €19|
|ISBN 9781922120441 (eBook)||AUD $17||USD $15||CAD $17||NZD $19||GBP £10||EUR €12|
The Beast Without was a delightfully refreshing paranormal tale. The book takes you on a whirwind of activity. There’s danger, near death, clubbing, all narrated in Reylan’s sometimes snarky, sometimes arrogant, and sometimes self-depricating 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."
– Patricia D. Eddy, Author Alliance
Link to full review
"Just when you thought it was safe to hit the strip on Friday night – Oxford Street’s sinister werewolf and vampire-ridden underbelly is laid bare in a hot new novel.
The vampires themselves may be biting, but the critics are crowing, saying it’s a novel you can really sink your teeth into, full of surprises, wit and creative energy."
– Matt Akersten, SameSame Link to feature article
"This is a nicely dark and puzzling paranormal, that is refreshing with its beastly werewolves and unapologetic Blood Shades (vampires). Reylan comes across as quite a vain man; he is very picky about the blood he consumes and is easily offended. Jorgas is a young man who is struggling with a monster inside him, and the vampi…. er, Blood Shade, might be the only one who can help him, but losing control constantly doesn’t help his case. With Reylan’s friends trying to persuade him to help the Arcadia Trust and Reylan’s own reservations, Reylan doesn’t know what to do. But he discovers many hidden connections that seem to have the Trust’s fingerprints on them.
I found this to be a very interesting read; I thought there were many connections that could lead to further books because of the questions left unanswered. While I found it to be brutal in places, it also seemed to have a slight thread of humor to it that lightened it in places. The descriptions of the werewolves and Blood Shades was great; there was no magical shifts but brutal painful changing; there was no incredible speed and sparkles for the vampire and he certainly isn’t that charming.
The storyline is very interesting and you get pulled in as you try to understand how things are connected, the Arcadia Trust, the church, and the strange experience Reylan has with the book. The storyline surrounding Jorgas is vague except his strange attraction to Reylan, but it becomes very clear in the last few pages.
I recommend this to those who love the good old-fashioned brutal werewolves and vampires without a care in the world. A very interesting storyline with many threads and a thoroughly enjoyable read.
Rating: 4 hearts."
– Pixie Reviewer, MM Good Book Reviews
Link to full review
"What an excellent take on vampires and werewolves. The Beast Without is such a far cry from the Twilight movies and other more current representations of these two supernatural beings. The werewolves and vampires of this story are not the benign creatures of the night that we see in popular movies and books these days. No, the supernaturals of this novel, the Blood Shades and the Flesh Masters (werewolves), are apex predators, vicious and superior to humans who are regarded as food. It’s actually kind of refreshing.
The vampires, werewolves, and other supernatural beings like Cloak Masters (invisible beings) are genetic by nature. All come from families where the various genes for each type of creature runs in the family. It can skip generations and then, right around puberty, those that carry the gene mutate into the creature whose genes they carry, whether it be vampire, werewolf, or something quite different. Christian Baines is developing a great back history for these supernaturals, a history that is revealed slowly throughout the book.
Along with his impressive world building, Baines takes particular pains to make his characters complex, otherworldly, and sometimes cruel in their outlook. Take Reylan. He is not human and revels in being a Blood Shade, finding the term vampire to be distasteful and tawdry. An asexual being, at least in the beginning, he dines on men, preferring the power and vigor in their blood to the caution and other traits that occurs in female hemoglobin. As created by Baines, Reylan is a loner, a predator, and absolutely absorbing.
I can’t say enough about the characters I found here. Whether it is Jorgas, a confused, raged filled werewolf; Father Isaac O’Baer of Saint Barnabas Church, a Father handy with advice or a knife; or Patricia Bakker, the enigmatic leader of The Arcadia Trust, these beings are intricately layered, wildly unpredictable in nature, and totally absorbing to read about. I can’t get enough of them or anyone else that pops up in this story. It’s really just a roll call of strange and wonderful creatures, each more exciting, dangerous and complex than the one before."
– Melanie M, Joyfully Jay Link to full review
"Rated 5 out of 5 stars.
This is one of the more original supernatural books I have read in a while. Reylan is definitely not a sparkly vampire, and Jorgas’s transformations aren’t smooth or painless. What surprised me most was the humor that I caught in the story right along with the brutality of their world. I got sucked into the story quickly, trying to figure out what the Trust was up to, what the church was up to, and Jorgas remains mysterious right up until the end.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone who likes a good old fashioned paranormal story with man-eating werewolves and snarky, brutal vampires. Christian Baines has struck gold with his debut novel, and I know I will be one of the first in line for his next books."
– Jackie, The Novel Approach Link to full review
"Rated 4.5 Blood Shade Stars out of 5.
Even in the world of the supernatural there are rules to be followed. Humans can’t be aware of who/what lives amongst them, and there are a number of supernatural factions to be taken into consideration. When is anything ever simple in good paranormal reading?
The book is a complex mix of world building, character development, supernatural history and folklore and interesting involvement with the Catholic parish of St Barnabas and some of the wealthy North Shore boys.
There were several key components for my thorough enjoyment of this book. The world building is rather brilliant. There is one part where a book and four drops of blood transport Reylan to another time and another country. The book ties certain aspects of the here-and-the-now to some significant history via the book that was given to Reylan at the Arcadia Trust beforehand. The description of the paranormals in the book paints a vivid picture. The book can be quite graphic and descriptively violent, so be aware if you don’t like darker paranormal/horror reading. There is also the fact that the main players are not warm and fuzzy, yet Reylan surprises you just when you think he doesn’t have it in him. Another part of this book’s allure is the parallel between the LGBTQ community and the factions of paranormals.
The Beast Without is narrated from Reylan’s POV and he is the main protagonist. Reylan is an incredibly complex character – interesting, witty and urbane, bitchy, snobby, direct, unfeeling yet paradoxically very caring at times, and often in the oddest of circumstances. I liked his voice but he is not Prince Charming. Jorgas has this undeniable, and oddly compelling, soft spot for Reylan, which makes for interesting reading.
I believe this is a first book by the author, and it is an incredibly good piece of writing. The world building is outstanding. Parts of Sydney were well utilised and suited the context of the book’s dark nature. I was laughing at some of the vernacular and situations. Knowledge of Sydney is not mandatory at all to read it, it was simply nice for this Sydneysider. The characters were all interesting and a little different. This book is NOT a M/M paranormal romance. The narrator and primary character, Reylan, is all about the blood. Even so, the book maintains a deliciously erotic undercurrent throughout.
I loved the ending of the book, the dialogue, the thoughts, the possibilities and the enigmatic yet just right feel of it.
I recommend The Beast Without for readers who like to think while they read, those who like a darker paranormal, with some horror, although it is certainly not all dark. While the beginning and the latter parts of the book certainly are darker, there is also dry, bitchy humour, fluid ideas of relationships, some camp pop-culture, and contemporary issues here, if you’re looking. Great reading all around. Oh yes, and that cover is just glorious!"
– Kazza K, On Top Down Under Book Reviews
Link to full review
"Happily, I enjoyed it. In the hands of a born storyteller like Christian Baines—especially one with such a wickedly subversive wit—I suspect any story would come alive.
Baines’ book gives credence to my theory that genre is the new playground of the literary imagination. (Nothing truly new of course: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is a great novel and was so long before we knew there were genres.) Likewise, The Beast Without is sexy, sassy and fun. The story never flags as we follow Reylan, an "out" Blood Shade, as he roams Sydney’s gay community.
Ironically, Reylan unintentionally finds himself attracted to a closeted, homophobic werewolf named Jurgas whom he has vowed to kill. What’s a boy to do, even if he’s 153 years old? The tension and intrigue just keep ratcheting up. Kudos to a new writer who will leave his marks on the publishing world, if not your neck. If genre fiction is in the hands of writers like this then long live the new genre. No stake through the heart can put an end to it."
– Jeffrey Round, winner, ‘Best Gay Mystery’, 2013 Lambda Literary Awards, A Writer’s Half-Life blog
"It’s finally summer, and queer folks are out to mix and mingle … but do you know whom you’re mingling with? The supernatural takes an erotic turn on the pages of The Beast Without, a dark fantasy manbeast-to-manbeast romance written by Christian Baines.
Baines’s first novel introduces us to the bloodthirsty werewolf Jorgas, a 22-year-old hothead with a dark past. Jorgas, who is just starting his changes as a werewolf, seeks out Reylan, who has been living in a supernatural state for more than a century, in a Sydney gay bar. Not knowing how to manage his newfound power, an encounter involving the two manbeasts leaves Jorgas with a strange attraction to Reylan, and this keeps the werewolf coming back for more. Baines describes his story as “sexy, one that doesn’t shy away from the gore and violence and toys with your brain just a little.”
Popular fiction sees vampires and werewolves dominating as characters in books and television, often with homoerotic elements. What sets The Beast Without apart from many other supernatural creative works is, as Baines explains, that he writes the story from the monster’s perspective."
– Lauryn Kronick, Daily Xtra Link to feature article
"Christian Baines is one of the most unique voices in gay literature today. His work is consistently surprising, fascinating and packed with clever ideas that make him one of the best writers of his genre."
– Geoffrey Knight, best-selling author of The Cross Of Sins, Fathom’s Five, and Drive Shaft
This is quite the creative paranormal tale. I’m going to address one of my favorite parts about this story first. The “labelling” Vampires are Blood Shades, Werewolves are Flesh Masters, Witches are Shapers, and the invisible are Cloak Masters… I hope I didn’t mess that up lol. It seems like a silly simple thing but it really sets the tone for the creativity you’re in for when you read this.
The MC’s of this are Reylan and Jorgas. Reylan is a loner blood shade who is happy with hanging at gay clubs and drinking his fill, leaving his conquests very sated. Jorgas is a flesh master, a young one at that. And he kind of attaches himself to Reylan.
Reylan is ordered to bring Jorgas to The Arcadian Trust alive. And so their adventure begins.
This paranormal has similarities to typical Vamp/Were books but the author absolutely weaves his own creativity through it as you can tell by the names of the Paras.
There’s complex plotting, darkness, sexual tension, and yeah… horror! Now there are some unanswered questions that I’m optimistic will be answered in future books.
This is a brutal magical world. No glitter and sunshine. But it’s beautiful in its creativity. Entertaining, fun, suspenseful!
– Meredith, Diverse Reader
Having lived in Brisbane, Sydney and Toronto, his off-the-page publishing career has included stints with Indigo Books and Random House. His dual passions for travel and mythology have sent him chasing legendary monsters across the globe, including vampires in New Orleans, asuras in Bangkok and theatre critics in New York.
The Beast Without is his first novel.
Feature article on Christian in Toronto's Daily Xtra
Christian's Facebook page
Christian's Twitter page
Christian's blog: Fiendish Whispers
Christian on Goodreads
from Chapter 1
On any given night, in any city in the world, somebody will die before sunrise and most of them will die alone. I speak, not of the peaceful, ‘tucked up in bed’ deaths, which mark the passing of the fortunate, but rather the deaths that go unseen and often unmourned. The lost soul who climbed a bridge one night and thought the water below might be hiding what remained of his dreams. Or perhaps the one who picked up the wrong one-nighter in some bar. One way to avoid the ‘alone’ part, I suppose.
Most humans put this sobering thought out of their little heads while they’re out on the town. After all, it’s not going to happen to them is it? The nearest to death they’ll get on their big night out is a splitting hangover, come morning.
I’m not human, but even so, this is a reality I can’t ignore. If I’m not careful when I feed, when I take my fill of blood, I can quickly become the wrong one-nighter.
I’ll thank you not to use the ‘v’ word.
Given my proximity to Oxford Street, the sleazy, pulsing artery of Sydney’s nightclub district where I’ve lived for the better part of thirty years, I try not to visit any club twice in the same week. It’s safer that way, particularly for a man whose lifestyle depends on discretion. Barely two nights ago, I’d graced Fantasy, a club full of pretty, if flighty young things – some gay, some straight, most happily open minded on the subject. So the following night’s destination was Blaze, a club currently serving as de facto cathedral to the Church of Saint Muscle Mary, where the buff and beautiful took time out of their forty hour a week gym schedules to model, preen and occasionally dance the night away for the slack-jawed ogling pleasure of curious onlookers.
For hunting clothes, I chose a pair of tight leather trousers, an equally tight lycra vest and a silver-studded belt. A little attractive, a little sexual, and a little ridiculous. The perfect human mix I’d developed over the years. Not the epitome of modern style, but on a healthy twenty-four year-old man, which is what I appear to be, it did say ‘come hither and bed me,’ which was the whole point.
Then, there was the pill. I rarely use them, but if options are lacking and I get too impatient, a little chemistry in a capsule can seal the sumptuous fate of any prospective companion. You needn’t judge me. You do a lot worse to your food. Besides, it’s not as if I’ve had to use it – recently.
I finally mussed my hair into a high swept fringe that resembled the current trends. There. Reylan had arrived. And so, the hunt commenced.
If Fantasy was an over-priced showcase of Sydney’s most precious ‘see or be seen’ crowd then Blaze was a stream of hedonistic delights, corrupted further by a tacky West Hollywood sheen, as imagined by a designer who’d had never been within a hundred miles of the place. The neon show was frightening – more Hong Kong than California – turning its lobby into a maw of the throbbing techno-driven beast that lay beyond its doors. Still, there were the delicious beasts within that beast. The elite bodies of Blaze. The blood bags of Blaze. Shallow though it may have been, this was a club not without its advantages.
Flashing the bouncer a smile, I was admitted with a polite flourish. I’m pretty, after all, and pretty’s good for business. In front of me, two epicene boys, barely old enough to enter, strutted around with... glitter. Glitter, plastered over their faces and arms, their hair styled up and cemented in place like ghastly exotic birds. Escapees from Fantasy, perhaps? Show cockatiels belong in cages, children.
I quickly turned my attention to the chiselled beauties of mankind that crowded the room. Physically flawless – the pesky confines of mortality notwithstanding. It was rare to find half a brain between them, but for blood that sweet, I was willing to forgo intelligent conversation. Then, there was the ever-present smattering of fine looking women, mingled throughout the posers and their admirers.
Seduction remains, without doubt, one of the safest forms of feeding available to our kind. I have taken to my bed women, men, white, black, Asian, young, old, fat, thin, muscular… any creed, colour, sexuality or physical type you care to nominate. It is only the taste of the blood that varies.
For example, men taste harder, bolder and fuller in flavour than women. This doesn’t necessarily make their blood better, and I’ve nothing in the world against women. But over decades of hunting, I have found the blood of men much easier to attain. Men are confident to go home with a stranger for a night of rough passion while women tend to balk at the prospect – an unchanging observation for as long as I’ve depended on their blood. Women are perceptive. Men are dumb – many adorably so.
Like the one who caught my eye, leaning on the bar just a few metres away, swilling expensive beer from a thin bottle. His short blonde hair shone immaculately in the pulsing lights. His legs snugly filled out dark blue jeans and his black shirt was tucked into a leather belt, laying bare his muscular chest and strong back. I could tell by the bored, lazy expression in his eyes. An easy, tasty meal. A meal named Rory, as a smile and quick introduction soon revealed.
I take great pride in my ability to summarise people at a glance, and Rory was more or less as he appeared. He was twenty-seven, infatuated with the gym, loved to party and knew none of the authors, musicians, or artists that I longed to speak of.
On the bright side, our lack of common interests allowed me to hand out half answers while I focused on what was important – the veins, rising deliciously from his forearm to his shoulder. As I looked deeper, I could almost feel the warmth of his blood, unpolluted with drugs, save the little beer he was drinking. That body, lean, athletic and well-kept, was a brilliant store of health. Enough to last me two nights, if I was careful.
Now, do you understand why I love Blaze?
After a half hour’s ‘conversation’, I was actually starting to enjoy Rory. He had a hearty laugh that matched his physical appeal and occasionally caught my attention with flashes of keen intelligence. A law graduate, completing his thesis at Macquarie, he was trying hard not to bore me with details – despite the best pleas of my glazed over expression. Anything but the blow-by-blow description of some fitness class he taught. Please, I beg you. Make it stop!
Before the boxercise-induced aneurism could take hold completely, the blood flowing beneath his smooth flesh glowed hotter, and he put his beer down on the table. Before I could move – not that I tried – he leaned down and kissed me.
It is one thing to be kissed as a human, by someone gifted in the act. But for one of my kind, being kissed is a far more revealing experience. In that brief moment of intimacy, we can sample a mortal’s blood without drawing a single drop. We can know their health, their quality and breeding, their nature and mood – anything that may affect the blood’s flavour, but remains invisible.
As long as his lips were against mine, Rory was happy to be explored. The aroma of his blood was so sweet I had to fight the temptation to bite his tongue right there and drain him. His hard, smooth body, damp with the sweat of dancing, slid over my lycra vest as he pushed deeper. He put a hand on my back and worked his way down, somehow forcing his fingers inside my unyielding pants, gently kneading the smooth cleft of my behind. Not wishing to seem frigid, I began a little exploration of my own, slipping a hand inside his belt.
“Ahem.” The bartender winked at us. It was one of the modern club scene’s most elegant phrases summed up in a very simple act.
Time to get a room. Mine.
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