Book Review: Time of Ruin by Shauna Granger

Time of RuinTime of Ruin
Ash and Ruin Trilogy Book Two
Shauna Granger
Shauna Granger, June 2014
ISBN 9781492759799
Trade Paperback &Ebook

From the author—

The world has ended, and hope is the most dangerous thing left.

Battered and bruised after barely escaping San Francisco with their lives, Kat, Dylan, and Blue press north – desperate to reach the possibility of a new home.

But strange, monstrous ravens are tracking the remaining survivors, food is becoming scarce, gasoline is running short, and people are becoming suicidal, making survival almost impossible.

And the Pestas are growing bolder. Somehow, their numbers are growing.

The further north they go, the harder it becomes to ignore the signs that they’ve made a fatal mistake. Kat must face the impossible truth that there is no escape, there is no safe haven, and their worst nightmares don’t come close to their new reality.

Shauna Granger was so kind to send me a copy of Time of Ruin after I lamented on her blog that I had missed her offer to reviewers. How have I repaid her? By taking endless weeks to write this review, even though I read the book within just a few days of getting it. And why is that, you ask? Well, truth be told, I’m not at all sure I can do it justice. Sigh 😦

The first book in this trilogy completely captivated me for a number of reasons and I couldn’t wait to read the second one while I also feared (slightly) that I’d be disappointed. You know how it is—even if the author doesn’t suffer from “sophomore slump”, there’s still the chance that the magic discovered in the first book just won’t be there in the second, for whatever reason. I’m delighted to say that didn’t happen with Time of Ruin; if anything, it’s better than the wonderful World of Ash and that’s as it should be.

Kat, Dylan and Blue are on a quest of sorts, one that’s common—and entirely credible—in many post-apocalyptic novels. It’s in our nature as humans to find other humans in a time of great crisis and, in this case, the trio’s quest is to get to Kat’s uncle, her only remaining family. The journey they take is fraught with peril of all sorts from those who are desperate or who seek to take advantage of others and they also must cope with personal stress such as hunger and injuries and loneliness. Looming in the dark is the presence of the terrible Pestas, creatures of death. They’re not zombies but share some of their characteristics and take it a step further by seeming to be able to think. These Pestas are enough to give one nightmares because, unlike zombies and other evil creatures, they are nebulous and little understood, not easy to visualize. They are the embodiment of pestilence just as the name suggests and yet we still don’t know what they really are. Not knowing is the worst.

Amidst all the despair, Kat and Dylan find themselves growing ever closer and mindful of each other’s needs. The care and love they show towards one another is uplifting as is the mutual adoration between them and Blue, probably one of the most wonderful fictional dogs ever. The three need to be thankful they have each other, especially when a most disheartening truth begins to come to light.

Time of Ruin is not all doom and gloom. Yes, it’s a dire situation and humanity is at risk of being annihilated, but there are times when we see that many people are still kind and generous and compassionate in spite of their circumstances. Ms. Granger also treats us to flashes of humor:

“I gather up some more gauze and all the tape and wipes I can find. I shove them into the pack and see that he managed to get a few cans of creamed corn and pudding cups—one item with no nutritional value and the other full of sugar. We’re doing this apocalypse right.”

Moments such as this lighten the mood but, when you get right down to it, Time of Ruin is a tale of humanity’s resilience in the face of horror and sadness and fear. Now we have to wait for the third and concluding book to find out whether Kat, Dylan, Blue and so many others will triumph over the darkness and what it will take to get there. And then there are those mysterious and ominous ravens…

Well done, Shauna Granger!

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, August 2014.