With her debut, Bairden has come out with all guns blazing. There is no stone she is afraid to unturn, nor is she reticent to delve the depths of the mental fragility of some, whilst not shying away from exposing the depravity of others.
‘Sins of the Father’ is not a comfortable read, but it is also one you cannot resist. Instead of simply saying Rebecca has voices in her head, Bairden takes us on a trip through Rebecca’s tortured mind, showing us the reason why she has been made this way. With detail, Bairden paints a picture, not with broad strokes, but with a fine eye for detail. I felt as though Rebecca’s head had been cracked open and we were looking inside to see she how she ticked. It isn’t a pretty journey, but one that is absorbing and terrifying in equal measure.
Rebecca is one of the abused, but also an abuser. However, Bairden does not make Rebecca someone you dislike, she has this remarkable way of making you feel some empathy towards her. Many of the cast have been subjected to some abuse by the adults they should have been able to trust, but sadly they were either rotten to the core or misguided, easily led by others.
Despite the synopsis above, this isn’t just a simple novel of revenge. This is about how people cope with crippling mental health on a daily basis. How they lead ‘normal’ lives whilst feeling the rage inside them, their true feelings beating against the bars of the cage they have constructed inside themselves. Bairden shows how that cage can become fragile and those other people, voices or feelings can finally escape and bring the whole façade crashing down. That is the fight on the hands of all those who have to deal with the fragility of mental health.
For a debut this is an astonishing piece of work that will pull at your heart strings and create tension as this cast of characters seem to be on a juggernaut speeding towards a cliff. Bairden winds up her story until the tension is taut, when you know something has to snap. When it does it is explosive and breath-taking. This dark read comes fully-formed and assured. I can’t wait to see what else comes from the dark mind of Sharon Bairden.