A Seed in a Soil of Sorrow

A Seed in a Soil of Sorrow by Keith Anthony Baird

When the death cult calls … what are you running from?

The path to the Viridian Chapter is paved with many sorrows. It’s a sect which sits on the site of a brutal atrocity, and one which harbours numerous dark secrets. Leader, Hans Lehmann, is a visionary bestowed with remarkable abilities, with followers who are prepared to offer their lives in exchange for his promise of a utopia.

On the cusp of autumn, a lone seeker arrives to discard his former life and embrace his rebirth as a chapter disciple. Stark lessons within a strict regime are the lure for those who have been traumatised by their uncaring past. The promise of a doomsday ascension through the waste of flesh proves at odds with a union between two souls who must flee the confines of the commune, if their love is to stand a chance of being fully realised.

But will the inner circle elite discover this betrayal and exact a terrible retribution, or will they escape the clutches of the sect’s unstable originator and lift the lid on the culture of violence within?

The IndieMuse Review

In only 24 pages, Keith Anthony Baird has delivered a meditative, tense and ultimately shocking story of a dangerous cultist told through the eyes of one of his believers.

Tobias has sought refuge from a troubled past in the arms of the Viridian Chapter, a cult living deep in the woods by the Finnish-Russian border and overseen by their charming but volatile leader, Hans Lehmann.

Tobias settles into life with his new family quickly and believes he is on the path to finally finding acceptance and contentment. Hans increasingly dangerous and unpredictable behavior, coupled with the arrival of a new member soon makes him reconsider whether what he has found is a new home or a different kind of prison.

For such a short book, Baird manages to cover an awful lot of ground within its slim page count. The story opens with a hopeful and timid Tobias, who has only just joined the Viridian Chapter and is regaling the reader with the story of how he discovered them and his first meeting with Hans. Tobias goes through quite the transformation as the book progresses but Hans remains exactly as he is portrayed right from the start. He is intelligent, eloquent and charming, but clearly sociopathic and prone to extreme acts of violence. Instead, we see not a development of Hans character but rather changes to how Tobias views him as he spends more time with him and his followers.

Baird paints a vivid picture of life at the Chapter and a lot of seemingly passing comments or actions, such as irregular trips to the local town for supplies, help immensely with world-building and you get a strong sense of what Tobias’s life is like as a member. The whole first half of the book is relatively grounded, despite a few scenes of shocking violence, but such violence is clearly outlined in the books opening chapter as being the norm for Hans. The writing is so eloquent and lyrical that this early focus on Tobias’s introduction to the cult feels almost dreamlike, setting things up beautifully for a big change in the narrative at the midway point.

Things get a little more fantastical in the book’s latter half, with some strong supernatural hints and an outlandish death scene, to say the least. It’s a big tonal shift from a quiet and introspective beginning, building up to a crazy, big-scale finale. If the shift seems jarring at first, there is a valid (and surprising) explanation for this on the final page that satisfies and wraps things up nicely.

A Seed In A Soil Of Sorrow manages to pack more punch into two dozen pages than many larger works struggle to achieve in ten times that. If you are looking for a short, sharp shock that will stick in your memory then this book needs to be on your shelf.

RICHARD MARTIN

Richard started reading horror books at a young age, starting with R L Stine’s ‘Goosebumps’ and ‘Point Horror’ series. He traumatised himself at the age of twelve when he read Stephen King’s ‘IT’, and never looked back. He is currently based in the UK, where he lives with his partner, and an inappropriate amount of books.

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