Benefitting considerably from the set-up and establishment of Sentinel, the story of Ruins is one which is freed from its baggage. With less time required to truly explain what is at stake or the rules of the universe, there is far more focus placed upon the story and characters. As such, the story takes strides in fully fleshing out and detailing its characters while retaining a strong central narrative.
While there is still a great deal of world building to be done, it’s better balanced against an ongoing plot. Rather than dragging during the middle sections of the tale and suffering from an unreadable protagonist, this time Ruins remains more evenly paced and with more distinct characterisation. This is helped especially by the introduction of a number of new characters closer to the protagonist’s, Nicholas’, age. Those who do return offer a better counterpoint against his personality this time, and there is a far better sense of direction thanks to his hunt for hostile infiltrators.
The demons and threats are ghoulishly described with some quite memorable appearances. The horror tropes have gone from Hammer Horror to John Carpenter here, as each monsterous form is excellently described and outlined in their full horror. While this was certainly true of Sentinel, this is taken to the next level here, offering some striking appearances and incredible tension whenever they rear their heads.
Many of the character moments carry far more impact, with the likes of the mentor and student role between Nicholas and Sam proving to be a high point. The seventh chapter in particular stands out thanks to a broad mix of quiet moments and action scenes, both of which show the strong bond between one another. This helps to give the book a greater sense of purpose, and is a far better use of the supporting characters than before.
If there is one definite weakness to be cited, Ruins proves to be oddly subdued when it comes to certain violent acts. Certain moments fail to truly hit home thanks to a strange lack of descriptive information, resulting in some surprisingly subdued outcomes to battles.
After a weaker start, Ruins proves to be a definite step forwards and a solidly entertaining novel overall. While some of the characters still prove to be weak in regards to dialogue and more personal scenes, there’s a far more cohesive structure and better pace to events. Even if you don’t like the original, at least give Ruins’ opening chapters a skim through, you might be surprised at what you find.
INFO: RUINS / WRITER: JOSHUA WINNING / PUBLISHER: PERIDOT PRESS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW