The existence of humanity is threatened in a future earth. In 2147, a small group of humans is holding out against Scheherazade and her army of ghosts. Vastly outnumbered, they are protected by a time bubble that is powered by a the last living time mage, Cole. But time has splintered and Cole is dying. The protection of the bubble is threatened and the people that live there are looking to the General to keep them safe.
But the General is running out of resources and time. He is the leader the Cazadores de los Muertos, the Dead Hunters, and with them, he protects the community from the ghosts. When Thea Maloney shows up from 1969, he is immediately suspicious of the stranger as any good leader would be. But he is also immediately attracted to her. This will be a dilemma for the General.
Thea is scared. Thrust into a situation stock full of unknowns and facing a man that looks exactly like the dead man she was in love with, she has no idea how to accomplish her mission: find out who is responsible for messing with time and trying to kill Cole – and – teach the General how to love.
It is quickly evident that Thea and the General are the essential characters in this intricate plot. The fact that Thea was sent to the future by a future version of herself makes her presence in 2147 prophecy-fulfilling and her relationship with the general just another part of the vision. In fact, elements of prophecy revealed bit by bit throughout the story will do nothing to lessen the goddess- and god-like personae these two main characters eventually take on. Despite how they are viewed by the people of Haunted Hollow, they are just a woman and a man trying to survive in a very scary situation. The attraction is there, but so is distrust, making their alliance both amazing and tenuous. I really liked that both Thea and the General alternatively struggled to avoid each other and to make the relationship work.
Secondary characters like Thea’s Aunt Tempe (“potion slinging witch”), Ava (“Machines are my thing.”) and Cazadores Luke and Eric Severin (XO and tech genius respectively) all have important and interesting roles. I liked the ensemble feel to the group of characters and knowing that Bring Me to Ruin is the first in a series, I hope that some of these characters will get their own starring role in a future story.
A few characters were what I call ‘throw away characters’. That is, they are given a name only to serve a very small purpose. One example is a character who ‘comes to life’ after she dies, in order to be eulogized by the General in a very moving ceremony. She was used only to make the hard-nosed, ultra logical General seem more human and her existence added a certain choppiness to the story. I would have appreciated the General’s humanity more if the woman had ‘lived’ before she died. There were other characters/elements that felt uneven – like they just got dropped into the story. Enough to make wonder why, but not enough to seriously detract from my reading enjoyment.
Because I always appreciate a well developed villain, I will tell you that Scheherazade is one interesting witch. Just when you think you might have figured out something about this evil-bringer, bang!, you learn something new. It is entirely possible, there is even more to learn in future books.
Religion plays a big role in Bring Me to Ruin. Though not specifically named Voodoo provides the guiding tenet. Gods, symbols and ceremonies are brought into the story. I actually found this part very interesting, especially when Thea starts talking to Baron Samedi. However, the connection between what I consider to be a Haitian religion and Northern California is barely even hinted at. I would really like to know more about how that happened.
Bring Me to Ruin is a tale of a future earth that may very well be at the end of its life. With a rich texture, this complex story is sometimes lush and romantic, sometimes dark and horrible. With Steampunk, SciFi, Paranormal, and Fantasy elements, its genre is difficult to pin down, but the lack of genre does not in anyway detract from the well told story. If you enjoy any or all of those genres, Bring Me to Ruin will fit on your bookshelf.
ARC provided by The Killion Group.