A Seed in a Soil of Sorrow by Keith Anthony Baird
A Book Review by Laurel Hightower
The latest offering from powerhouse Keith Anthony Baird opens with the gravity and prose I’ve come to expect from his work. There’s a grace to his settings, an immediate capturing of the reader’s attention to settle in: this is going to get dark.
And dark it becomes, from the get-go. From the blurb, we know that this story deals with a death cult, the Viridian Chapter. There are no illusions for us or the protagonist, rechristened Tobias, about what we’re getting into. Many of us shrink away from the idea of cults at all, wondering how a person could submit their will and safety to the power of those who are, of necessity, megalomaniacs. And Hans Lehman, the autocrat of this cult, is no different. From the first day of his acceptance into the Viridian Chapter, Tobias is shown the brutality that is not only allowed, but inevitable in such a setting. The reader wonders just how a young man came to be there, but Baird answers this question with skill. We’re given brushstrokes of Tobias’s former life, the hollowness he found there, the answers he was seeking, and reluctantly acquiesce that perhaps his decision is not unfathomable, even as the tension builds. For we know that with a death cult, there’s no chance for a happy ending.
At around ten thousand words, this is a short read, and I don’t want to risk any spoilers, but I will say I admire Baird’s skill in setting an ominous tone, and the elements he uses within such a short space are nothing short of enthralling. Culminating in an ending I didn’t see coming, preceded by enough toe-curling action to satisfy any reader, this is a short tale to consume an enjoyable hour or two, and well worth your time.