Kristopher Rufty “Desolation” Review

Posted: February 2, 2016 in Reviews, Uncategorized
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Length: 264 Pages

Publisher: Samhain Horror

Release Date: January 5, 2016

Review copy provided in exchange for an honest review as part of the Desolation Blog Tour

I first discovered Rufty’s work through Jagger, a gripping novel about a lovable dog that is pumped full of experimental drugs and transformed into an unstoppable killing machine that finally breaks loose wreaking all kinds of carnage. What made Jagger such an excellent read is that Rufty wasn’t afraid to show readers the violence and depravity that lurks in the darkest corners of the human mind. That same unflinching portrayal of human darkness is carried out in Desolation and the results are devastating.

Desolation hits readers right in the gut from the start by opening with a prologue about a tragic accident involving the Hinshaw family. They were hit by a drunk driver only a few miles before reaching the safety of their home and the results of the crash shatters their world forever. This prologue is absolutely heart-wrenching and one of the most emotionally raw openings I have ever read. Rufty has a background in film and that experience is evident throughout Desolation, but it really shines through in this scene.

After witnessing the horrifying events that kickstart the plot of the novel, readers are introduced to Grant Marlowe, the driver responsible for the accident. He is in an AA meeting 8 months after the accident and is getting ready to share his story with a group of relative strangers for the first time. He was a hotshot lawyer from Leaf Spring who was known for winning every case that came across his desk for almost a decade. He had just won a case against a teacher accused of sexual abuse and was out celebrating his big victory. He was pounding drinks at the bar and buying everyone’s drinks, completely forgetting his promise to his wife Marion that they would celebrate his big win in a calmer more relaxed environment. It is here in his confession of addiction we learn that he has been hiding his addiction from his family and lying to them about being sober. His wife can hear the raucous party in the background and tells Grant it is over between them. This causes Grant to rush out of the bar despite the fact he shouldn’t be driving in attempt to get home before his wife and he decides to take the back roads to avoid cops and shave a few minutes off his drive. It is this fateful decision that changes the lives of both Grant and Hinshaw’s forever.

Grant was hardly punished due to having friends in the legal system, only getting sentenced to a year in jail. He is released early on probation and his oldest friend is the leader of his AA group. Despite not suffering any legal ramifications following the crash, his personal life is in shambles – he lost his job and he is in danger of losing his family. Grant and his wife still live together in a large house that was once their dream home. However, following the accident, the home is nothing more than a painful reminder of what they used to be. Grant and Marion have become relative strangers, hardly interacting with each other and unable to confront the issues caused by Grant’s horrible mistake.

Although Grant still struggles with the urge to drink and is still haunted by the fallout of the accident, the upcoming Christmas holiday helps him stay on track in his recovery and offers a glimmer of hope. He plans to take his wife and two kids, Kara and Bobby, to their cabin in Bear Creek in an attempt to piece his family back together. As the family heads to the cabin in the mountains, there is a sense of hope that surrounds them for the first time in what feels like forever after the events of the horrific accident. Grant and his wife have seemingly made progress in patching up their marriage and Grant secretly hopes the trip will allow him to build on the progress they have made while they are secluded from the town where memories still haunt them. Grant secretly hopes the storm they are calling for will keep them all stuck in the cabin, forced to work on the issues that have been tearing them apart.

When they arrive at the cabin, they realize not much has changed despite the fact they haven’t been there since Kara and Bobby were just kids. However, the caretaker Edgar warns Grant that there has been a prowler frequenting the cabin in recent weeks. While the family is trying to make the most of a tense situation at the cabin, Grant and Bobby make a startling discovery near the cabin while searching the woods for a Christmas tree. After Edgar’s warning about a prowler, the discovery sets the two on edge. After the discovery and a fight between Grant and Bobby, the tensions that plagued the family come rushing to the surface and Grant is worried that his plan at reconciliation will fail. However, that is the least of Grant’s worries when a stranger from his past shows up and takes his family hostage. His goal is simple – to make sure grant Grant feels the same pain he has suffered and to make sure he never forgets what he has done.

Desolation is one of the first books of 2016 that I have read and it started my year off with a bang. Rufty’s characterization and raw display of emotion are the driving forces behind this novel. The two main characters – Grant Marlowe and the man that terrorizes his family – steal the show in my opinion. Their fates are intertwined and although each man brings their own baggage to the table, you cant help but feel both of their pain. Don’t get me wrong, the stranger from Grant’s past is evil and you want nothing more than to see him pay for what he does to the Marlowes, but at the same time your heart breaks for him when you learn of the struggles he has gone through since his initial meeting with Grant. Rufty does an excellent job of showing both sides of this devastating tragedy and challenging readers to question their stances on his characters. Readers witness the attacker struggle to cope with the fallout of the accident and on the flip side you see Grant trying to get his life back after his role in the crash. Both of these men have lost everything as the result of a few tragic moments and each one is forever haunted by the aftermath.

Rufty’s portrayal of the man from Grant’s past is truly terrifying and he is a well-developed antagonist. Although he is unhinged and driven by loss and his need for revenge, he is very methodical in his plans, which is a scary combination. He isn’t totally overcome by grief to the point where he flies blindly into his attack on the Marlowes. His need for his own brand of justice is too important to him and he plans his attack on the Marlowe’s with precision. He has scouted the cabin for weeks and painstakingly planned all of his actions to account for any possible occurrences. Even when it seems his emotions and desperation will get the better of him, he is able to restrain himself against all odds. There are scenes in the cabin where he shares his past with Grant and his family that are absolutely  gut-wrenching and even though he is committing horrible acts against the Marlowes, you still can’t help sympathize with him for the sadness he is going through. It is in these scenes we learn things about the trial and the aftermath of the accident that were buried and you can’t help but feel angry at the injustice of it all.

Desolation doesn’t feature even the tiniest bit of the supernatural, but it is one of the scariest scenarios you can imagine. The attacker inflicts psychological torture on the Marlowe family and they go through some of the most emotionally draining situations imaginable. I won’t lie, I have read a lot of truly horrific books and there is not much that makes me squeamish, but this one definitely had me pausing at times because of the brutality that takes place. The novel may seem like a standard home invasion piece at first glance, but once you read it, you will realize that there is so much more taking place below the surface.

Rufty also utilizes an interesting style choice that really carries the emotional thread of Desolation. There are letters written by the attacker interspersed throughout the story and I don’t want to give too much away, but they are a strong point of the novel. The letters themselves seem harmless enough at first as you read through Desolation, but they get darker with each entry and it is later in the novel that you realize the depths of this man’s insanity and why the letters are so important. I loved this approach because it allows readers to get inside the head of the character and experience how the crushing sense of loss and despair send him spiraling into darkness. I remember reading these letters and as I started to get to some of the later ones, the hair on the back of my neck stood up.

Desolation is a truly visceral story that is full of darkness and heartbreak, but also forgiveness. What makes this story such a great horror read is that is entirely plausible. Rufty shows that ordinary people can snap under pressure and intense grief and that sometimes the aftermath is devastating. I know that 2016 just started, but I can’t imagine another book hitting me on such an emotional level as Desolation. I wish I could explain why, but I don’t want to ruin the journey Rufty has planned for his readers. Let me just say that Rufty puts readers through an emotional wringer  and this story is guaranteed to leave an impression on anyone that decides to read it. Highly recommended for fans of both horror and thriller novels!

Be sure to check out the giveaways at the end of this post! The first giveaway is for two audio books, Oak Hollow and Pillowface. The other giveaway is for a signed print copy of The Lurking Season and two e-books, Vampire of Plainfield and Bigfoot Beach!

Rating: 5/5


Kristopher Rufty Official Website

Samhain Horror Official Website

Purchase Desolation: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Samhain Horror or from your favorite bookstore!

Desolation tour graphic

Use these hashtags to help spread the word about Desolation! – #Desolation #RuftyRevenge #winterreads #HookofaBook

Desolation Synopsis

There’s no escaping your past. Especially when it wants revenge.

Grant Marlowe hoped taking his family to their mountain cabin for Christmas would reunite them after his alcoholic past had torn them apart, but it only puts them into a life and death struggle.

On Christmas Eve, a stranger from Grant’s past invades the vacation home and takes his wife and children hostage. His agenda is simple—make Grant suffer the same torment that Grant’s drunken antics have caused him.

Now Grant must confront his demons head on and fight for his family’s lives. Because this man has nothing left to lose. The only thing keeping him alive is misery—Grant’s misery.

Praise for Kristopher Rufty

“Kristopher Rufty is the demented reincarnation of Richard Laymon!” – Jeff Strand

A Dark Autumn is a wild gender role reversal of ‘I Spit On Your Grave,’ with gonzo nods to Norman Bates and ‘Friday The 13th’ thrown in for good measure. Kristopher Rufty delivers the goods yet again.” –Bryan Smith, author of Kayla Undead and The Late Night Horror Show

“A creepy, gripping tale of horror. And it’s got one of the best death scenes I’ve read in a long time!” – Jeff Strand, author of Pressure and Dweller

“A powerhouse debut novel. Rufty’s prose will suck you in and hold you prisoner!” – Ronald Malfi, author of Floating Staircase and Snow

“An occult thriller with a new twist. Rufty juggles captivating characters, breakneck suspense, and insidious horror in a macabre story that will leave you feeling possessed by the end of it. Next time you think about taking that old Ouija board out…forget it!” – Edward Lee, author of Lucifer’s Lottery and City Infernal

About Kristopher Rufty


Kristopher Rufty lives in North Carolina with his wife, three children, and the zoo they call their pets. He’s written various books, including The Vampire of Plainfield, Jagger, The Lurkers, the Lurking Season, The Skin Show, Pillowface, Proud Parents and many more, plus a slew of horror screenplays. He is the writer and director of the movies Psycho Holocaust, Rags, and Wicked Wood. If he goes more than two days without writing, he becomes very irritable and hard to be around, which is why he’s sent to his desk without supper often.

Find Krist online at his blog or on Facebook and Twitter.


We have a lot of books to giveaway from Krist! We have two audio books, Oak Hollow and Pillowface in one link. In the second link we have a signed print copy of The Lurking Season and two e-books, Vampire of Plainfield and Bigfoot Beach. Winners are chosen random via rafflecopter and are given choice of prize of order pulled. Any questions on raffle, please e-mail Erin Al-Mehairi, publicist, at

Link for audio book giveaway:

Link for print/e-book giveaway:


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