Book InfoRuin by K. L. Taylor-Lane
Series: Swallows and Savages #1
Rating: Book ratings explained
Genres: Dark Romance, Gothic Romance
Purchase at: Amazon | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Amazon AU
Charlie Swallow is a savage.
After killing his brother to save his soulmate, someone who wasn't even his to keep. He is lost.
With nothing left to fight for, he finds himself back in the arms of his enemy. A man who is just as brutal, just as sinister, just as savage, but understands Charlie in a way that no one else ever has.
Until something turns up in one of Charlie's shipping yards. Something that changes everything.
A girl in a cage.
*This is book 1 in the Swallows and Savages series, and DOES end on a cliffhanger. This book is extremely dark, if you have any triggers, please do not read.
Ruin - My Review
It feels like I’ve been waiting for Charlie’s story forever, since that very first appearance in Purgatory. He was always the more curious of the Chaos Twins, the one with the bigger back story, and therefore the one with the more difficult journey ahead of him. Do I feel like I understand Charlie Swallow better for having read Ruin? Yes, and at the same time, no. I think we’re only beginning to scratch the surface and there’s more darkness yet to come.
I don’t even know where to start with Charlie, he’s that complex a character. Despite his age, I would consider him almost child-like emotionally. He’s caught up in all these feelings but doesn’t know what to do with them, how to process them and work through the maelstrom in his mind. It results in him approaching intense people and situations recklessly, with an impulsive unconscious desire for self-preservation. He has a desperate need for the approval of the people he loves, yet never believes he can be enough for them. I can’t help but feel a large part of this stems from Kyla-Rose’s unconscious manipulation of him. Throughout the Swallows and Psychos series, she held onto him as the other half of her soul but refused to allow him close in the way he needed, choosing to keep him at a distance in favour of the three men she was romantically involved with. Even now, five years on, she can’t seem to let him go to follow his own path, even when his every action screams at her to let him.
Kazimir’s not so different from Kyla-Rose either. He was the boy whose father kept Charlie in a cage all those years ago, who was there as the boy with the bright future descended into madness. Their strange relationship seems to be based upon a combination of brutal degradation and kicking back with vodka and weed. Kaz is convinced that he cares for Charlie – some might even call it a warped sort of love – but at the same time he cares more about himself and other people’s impressions of him than he does about any kind of relationship they may have. Deep down Charlie realises this when he tells Kaz that if he’s not number one, he doesn’t want to be anything.
Ava is a mystery wrapped up in one big bundle of trauma. She is unable to tell, or perhaps admit how she came to be in a cage in a shipping container, hindered by her mutism which may or may not be selective. Where Charlie knows that his vocal issues are a result of physical trauma, he cannot say whether Ava’s are the same or related to her mental health and trauma. Despite this, the pair develop a strange sense of communication, and Charlie is surprisingly intuitive when it comes to her actions and reactions.
As we’ve seen in some of K. L. Taylor-Lane’s more recent books, Ruin is carried by the characters, their emotions and interactions instead of being driven by an energetic storyline. While there are physical events in the story that could be explosive and played upon to increase the action, they pale into insignificance against the subtle moments characters share one-on-one together. There’s a skill to Taylor-Lane’s writing that makes the quiet and indistinguishable an enticing and addictive story.
The exception to this is found in the final chapters, where the imperceptible clues that have been laid throughout the story finally come together in a volatile finale which left me questioning much of what I’d read and felt throughout the 30 previous chapters. I placed the book down not knowing what to say or to think, only conscious of the hurt and betrayal that Charlie would be feeling and how this might play upon the fragility I perceived in him. I can see so many possible options for his next book but I suspect Taylor-Lane will surprise me and take a different direction. Either way, I know the next instalment of Charlie’s story will be full of darkness and I can’t wait.