Much of what I have to say regarding R.J. Palmer's Sins of the Father is critical of the piece, but that being said I don't want to sound discouraging. Palmer's talents are entirely evident despite what I felt to be an awkward execution.
In many places, the wording felt forced, almost like the author was trying to dress up the text. "Even as the question crossed his mind Aaron felt guilty and as more habit than anything else, he ducked his head in the manner of a recalcitrant child squirming under the chastisement of a parent or schoolmaster." Grammatically there is nothing wrong with the sentence, but to me, the terminology feels awkward and heavy.
Additionally, I found a lot of repetition in the text. Loc. 551: Aaron is so upset by the whipping of the young boy he takes the punishment himself. Loc. 571: Aaron is reflecting on the incident and expresses shock that the church would impose such methods of control and discipline against a child. Loc 1013: Aaron silently questions what a child could have done to deserve such harsh treatment. Loc. 1034: Aaron muses over what atrocious, awful or sinful act could warrant such extreme measures as whipping. Loc. 1115: Aaron can't fathom the reasons a child would be repeatedly whipped. It often seemed I was going in circles.
Also for a piece that to some extent takes place in the past, I felt a little cheated. The monastery was wonderfully described, but the rest felt either underdeveloped or stereotypical. Sins of the Father is not marketed as a historical which gives Palmer some wiggle room, but I think it is something to consider if she returns to historic settings in the future.
I've made a lot of criticisms thus far, but I do have reason to appreciate the effort. There were scenes, the cell where Bowen tends the dying monk comes to mind, that were nothing short of haunting. Dark, tense, emotional moments that were flawlessly executed under Palmer's pen. These are the moments in which Palmer shined. I literally had chills racing up and down my spine.
Ultimately Sins of the Father left me unsatisfied, but at the same time I think Palmer has the imagination and talent necessary to achieve great success in her field. Skill grows with time and experience and I for one will be interested to see what this particular author comes out with next.