Who's who in The Arcadia Trust's gay paranormal world?

I love fantasy.

I know. Big shock. But I love big casts, epic, sweeping plots, intrigue, conflicting agendas, conflicted hearts, and bad idea romances. I love reading it. I love writing it. I love it when it's horror tinged or when there's sci-fi mixed in. I love it when there's a romance at the centre or when there isn't. But it can also be kind of overwhelming, particularly if you're coming to a paranormal series for the first time.

My gay paranormal romance / gay urban fantasy series The Arcadia Trust isn't exactly a Russian epic, but it does help to know some names (and perhaps faces. Sorry I don't have pics for you guys but...I do love fan art. Just putting that out there).

So this post is just a little Arcadia Trust 101 for those knocking on Patricia Bakker's door for the first time. Print it, have it with you as you read, frame it beside your pillow, memorise it and then eat it, it's totally up to you. Whatever helps you find your way around Reylan's Sydney-based world.

To keep it simple, this post only introduces the main cast of The Beast Without, the first in the Arcadia Trust series. Maybe I'll introduce Colin's household, and other new characters from The Orchard of Flesh in a later post, but this post will get you started with the key players.

What is The Arcadia Trust?

The Arcadia Trust is a loose, highly unorthodox alliance of several of Sydney's supernatural beings. It operates under the gaze of Patricia Bakker, a tough-as-nails former nun turned daemonologist. The few in its ranks include Blood Shades (vampires, to the uninitiated or those with a death wish), at least one Cloak Walker (an invisible man), a small number of Shapers (witches and wizards of either gender), and Patricia herself, who is curiously human. It operates from a large house in the wealthy suburb of Paddington, in Sydney, Australia.

A 153yo Blood Shade who's lived a leisurely life of blood, beauty, and boys for most of those years, Reylan has grown comfortable with who he is, the anonymity of living in Sydney as a Blood Shade, and the wealth of blood available from beautiful men who frequent the gay clubs of Oxford Street. In keeping with the ethics of most Blood Shades, he does not kill his 'companions,' preferring instead to wipe their memories after a night of passion and blood flow. Originally from Copenhagen, Denmark, he's since lived in Paris, Berlin, and Los Angeles before settling in Sydney, mentoring two younger Blood Shades along the way. When he meets Jorgas, a young werewolf barely in control of his changes, his peaceful night-time solitude is changed forever.

Jorgas aka Billy Myers
A troubled, bisexual 22yo man from a wealthy but neglectful North Shore Sydney family, learning he was a werewolf was just another log on the fire for Jorgas. Now more uncertain of his future - and more than a bit of his past - than ever, a violent chance encounter with Reylan could be his path to salvation... or damnation.

Patricia Bakker
Elusive, hard to read and even harder to outwit, details of Patricia's background are unknown beyond her past as a nun. She alludes to being excommunicated for her interest in the supernatural world. How deep that interest goes is uncertain, but it has allowed this human woman to become a power-broker among the creatures of darkness.

The younger of Reylan's former proteges, Ross came to Sydney from Italy as a medical student in the 1990s. Turning Blood Shade soon afterward, his flight proved a narrow escape from 'honor killing' at the hands of his murderous, fundamentalist family. Still a skilled physician, he has found a new calling within The Arcadia Trust.

Reylan's first protege, and his most enigmatic friend. Isobel first met Reylan in Spain in the early 20th century. Believed to be just over 100, she left Reylan's side after several decades travelling together. The pair have finally reconnected in Sydney, though Isobel may not be quite the same Blood Shade Reylan raised.

The Arcadia Trust's resident Cloak Walker and unofficial muscle/spy/security, Kelvin isn't about to let little things like manners, politics, or ethics get in the way of the job. Despite his gruff, often callous demeanour, he appears fiercely loyal to Patricia and The Arcadia Trust.

This young human had the misfortune to catch Reylan's predatory eye one night. But could Reylan's hypnotic influence be exactly what Brett needs?

Who Shares the Night with Us?
One of the more unique aspects of the Arcadia Trust's world is that few supernatural creatures are known by the names we would call them - or at least, don't call them the word to their faces! One thing that is distinct from many other supernatural worlds is that these 'variations' on humanity occur naturally, and are not bitten, embraced, or otherwise induced. Here's a brief, but by no means complete guide...

Blood Shades - Vampires to the ignorant. These creatures see themselves as the pinnacle of night-time predatory evolution, and take seriously the responsibility not to abuse or 'overfish' their prey...which does nothing to stop them abusing each other.

Flesh Masters - Also known as werewolves, though only the organised packs take issue with the word, and few of these operate within the big cities. In human form, they enjoy the benefit of enhanced canine senses, speed, and strength. In their other form, run.

Cloak Walkers - People gifted/cursed with invisibility from around their early 20s (when most supernatural differences begin to take hold). Little is known about them, though the reality of being thought lost, given up for dead, dismissed as ghosts, or of driving their loved ones mad as they have tried to remain close puts them among the least understood of all supernaturals.

Shapers - Not supernatural beings per se, Shapers rework the laws of nature and sometimes the realms beyond to suit their own ends. They keep their secrets across a range of disciplines, and are particularly mistrustful of the Blood Shades, their main rivals in supernatural politics.

Mannequins - Bound by blood addiction to their Blood Shade master, a Mannequin enjoys a little of that master's power and longevity in return for absolute loyalty. Many Blood Shades refuse the responsibility, while others may take on a large household of Mannequin servants.

The Mutilated - Little is known about these timid creatures, as they appear to occupy our world in hiding. Contrary to the name, they are not necessarily broken or malformed. Merely 'altered' from a typical human appearance. What could they be hiding from?

Daemons - While some mislabel all supernaturals as such, Daemons are a distinct species that prefer to stay far away from what they see as the petty machinations of the Blood Shades and the Shapers.

Patrons - Said to be creatures of unspeakable power from another reality, most supernaturals dismiss the Patrons as extinct, or even a myth from a less enlightened era.

What order should I read the Arcadia Trust books in?
The Beast Without is the first book in the series, but book two, The Orchard of Flesh, can be read as a standalone without missing too many details. At worst, you'll cop some spoilers (though of course, they're best read together in sequence).

BUY LINKS (See publisher sites for excerpts):
The Beast Without
Amazon | Interactive Publications
The Orchard of Flesh
Bold Strokes Books | Amazon

Thanks for reading, and I hope you'll join Reylan and the Arcadians for some adventures in Sydney's darkest corners soon.


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