Book Review: Wayward Son by Tom Pollack

Everything changes early one morning when Dr. Amanda James gets a call from an old college flame and fellow archaeologist, beseeching her to travel to Italy to help solve the puzzle of a mysterious set of bronze doors at a new dig site. Much to her surprise and bemusement, Amanda also receives an offer of stardom and celebrity from billionaire Luc Renard on the same day. The only catch? The job is in Tokyo, requiring Amanda to leave everything of her life behind including her current work at the Getty Museum. Unable to turn her back on archaeology and all the research that she loves, she turns down the offer, but Renard is not someone used to taking no for an answer…

At the dig site in Italy, Amanda takes up the challenge solving the secret of the bronze doors. Sealed by a code inscribed in ancient languages including Chinese and Egyptian, the researchers believe the doors should open up to an underground vault buried beneath a hundred feet of ash from the eruption of nearby Mount Vesuvius. Once inside, Amanda discovers a room full of relics, including two unknown figures eternally locked in what appears to have been a struggle, killed and frozen in time by the volcanic effusion.

It is then Amanda suddenly experiences a shocking vision — the life and times of the notorious Biblical figure Cain. Through her visions, she learns the truth — that Cain actually walked the earth for thousands of years, cursed for the murder of his brother. Trapped in his immortal life, this is a story of Cain’s road to redemption and fight to resist the devil’s temptations.

At first, I thought I would love Wayward Son, based on my love for archaeology and the description of the book on various websites like Amazon and Goodreads. However, the book was nothing like I expected. Don’t get me wrong, this was a well written book with a rather creative story. My problem with it isn’t so much what the book was about, but with the way it was marketed.

From the synopsis, it sounded like a tale of suspense and adventure, something I would really love. As it turned out, this was not the case. I think I was initially drawn to these particular lines of the description: “Amanda is shocked to discover evidence left behind by a notorioius Biblical killer, who long ago wandered off the pages of history. When a strange relic unveils the miraculous truth about this villain, Amanda must battle sinister forces intent on suppressing her stunning revelation, before it alters the destiny of millions.”

While the beginning of the novel started off promising, I have to say that description did not actually reflect the content of the book at all. The bulk of the story itself is actually much more low-key and subdued, and not as heart-pumpingly exciting as the synopsis made it sound. The life of “Biblical killer” who turned out to be Cain played out more like a historical drama, and he wasn’t really portrayed like the “villain” as stated. While Wayward Son did have a touch of mystery and suspense, the description is unreliable. I would say this book would be more at home on a Christian fiction shelf.

I’m still glad I picked it up for the synopsis, misleading or not, because I don’t know if I would have read this book otherwise. It’s an intriguing read, though my only caveat to other potential readers, of course, is to be wary of the novel’s descriptions.


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