Melissa reviews Puppet Boy by Christian Baines Published November 16th 2015 by Bold Strokes Books, 314 pages.
A school in turmoil over its senior play, a sly career as a teenage gigolo, an unpredictable girlfriend with damage of her own, and a dangerous housebreaker tied up downstairs. Any of these would make a great plot for budding filmmaker Eric’s first movie.
Unfortunately, they’re his real life.
When Julien, a handsome wannabe actor, transfers to Eric’s class, he’s a distraction, a rival, and one complication too many. Yet Eric can’t stop thinking about him. Helped by Eric’s girlfriend, Mary, they embark on a project that dangerously crosses the line between filmmaking and reality. As the boys become close, Eric soon wants to cross other lines entirely. Does Julien feel the same way, or is Eric being used on the gleefully twisted path to fame?
A copy of this book was provided in exchange for an honest review.
Why I read this book: I read The Beast Without (Arcadia Trust, #1) & The Orchard of Flesh (Arcadia Trust, #2), and I enjoyed those so when the opportunity to read Puppet Boy came up, I said yes. The blurb made me go, hmm, but I was intrigued. 🙂
*WARNING!* This book is NOT going to be for everyone. THIS IS NOT A ROMANCE!!!
I did not know what I was getting into when agreed to read this book. I give serious props to Christian Baines for writing seriously weird and…unique…stories. I was lost for basically the entire story, mostly because I didn’t know where it was going, or how it would all end. None of these characters are likeable, they all have something wrong with them. And yet I didn’t give up. There was just something about this book that I could not stop; I HAD to know what happened to these characters!! Sadly, I can’t say I understood what happened to them.
To hopefully, briefly, sum up what happens (I think), Eric is working as an escort to earn money so he can go to film school in the U.S. Some of his clients want sex, some want just to talk, some want kinkier stuff; it’s a mixed bag. Eric is in high school with Mary, Julien, Toby, Felicity, and lots of other characters. Don’t forget about Joe, the “dangerous housebreaker tied up downstairs,” as the blurb states. Seriously, Eric fought with and managed to lock up a would be robber/housebreaker-inner. Their dynamic is complicated, maybe a little Stockholm mixed in.
Things get complicated (understatement) when Eric wants to put on a school play – Shakespeare’s Titus. Not everyone in the school administration is happy with this choice, and it becomes the crux to which the story centers, and ultimately the characters downfall. There are so many twists and turns, a lot of backstory that isn’t clarified regarding Mary and her father, Eric’s relationship with his mother is strained, and the apparent MFM with Eric, Mary and Julien. Baines does an excellent job of confusing you, making you question your own sanity, and I can’t say I would recommend this one to anybody. And yet…Some people like dark and being mind fucked with. I don’t know the right words. This is a psychological thriller with dark – I mean DARK – thoughts and actions. It doesn’t have a Happy Ending. I don’t UNDERSTAND the ending.
Dual passions for travel and mythology have sent him across the world in search of dark and entertaining stories. His first novel, The Beast Without, was released in 2013, followed by an erotic short story, The Prince and the Practitioner.
His second novel, Puppet Boy was released in late 2015.