Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

The Ruin Season

Rate this book
“The Ruin Season bristles and lurches powerfully with lust and dope, violence and satanic music, but make no mistake, it’s a runaway train whose engine is pure heart, and Kristopher Triana keeps it on the tracks just long enough to give you hope that the little engine can. Makes it hurt true. Hell of a crash.”
—Jedidiah Ayres, author of Peckerwood

“I’ve written that a way to judge the health of a genre is to gauge the number of emerging young, good writers. Kristopher Triana is one of the newest bumper crop of good ones. I read a couple of his short stories after meeting him at the recent StokerCon. His prose is excellent, his plots compelling. The Ruin Season has these same qualities. Kris has the Write Stuff. Check out a rising star.”
—Gene O’Neill, author of The Cal Wild Chronicles and Entangled Soul with Chris Marrs

“The Ruin Season is like the literary equivalent of Springsteen’s classic Nebraska. It’s a book with a stripped back feel, brooding with raw emotion and atmosphere where Triana allows his characters to bare their souls and bleed onto every page.”
—Adrian Shotbolt, BeavistheBookhead

Jake Leonard has more than his share of trouble.

He’s close to forty now and still suffers from bipolar disorder and the painful memories of the psychotic episodes that derailed his life and sent him behind bars as a youth. He lives in the rural south where he spends his days breaking horses and his nights training dogs in solitude. His nineteen-year-old girlfriend, Nikki, is the daughter of the sheriff, and she’s just getting worse with drugs, alcohol and satanic metal, eventually leading into heroin and low-budget porn. When Jake reconnects with his ex-wife, things get even more complicated, and the limits of love and sanity get pushed to the breaking point.

The Ruin Season is a haunting, violent tale of a mentally ill man struggling in a violent and heartless world. It is the story of unrequited love, mad rage, and bloody revenge. It moves forward in the dark style of gritty southern gothic novels, in the tradition of Larry Brown, Harry Crews, Daniel Woodrell, Cormac McCarthy and Flannery O’Conner. It shows both the tender and horrible sides of insanity as well as the seedy underbelly of the American, backwoods suburbs.

324 pages, Paperback

Published June 23, 2016

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Kristopher Triana

61 books871 followers
Kristopher Triana is the author of Gone to See the River Man, Full Brutal, They All Died Screaming, Shepherd of the Black Sheep, Toxic Love, and more.

His fiction has appeared in countless magazines and anthologies and has been translated into multiple languages, drawing praise from Publisher's Weekly, Cemetery Dance, Rue Morgue, Scream, The Ginger Nuts of Horror and others.

Full Brutal won the Splatterpunk Award for Best Horror Novel of 2019, and Triana won the award again in 2022 for The Night Stockers, which he cowrote with Ryan Harding.

He lives in Connecticut.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
44 (55%)
4 stars
19 (23%)
3 stars
14 (17%)
2 stars
2 (2%)
1 star
1 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 27 of 27 reviews
Profile Image for Paul Ataua.
1,348 reviews126 followers
March 27, 2022
Jake lives alone in the rural south. He breaks horses and trains dogs. He is bipolar, but seems to have it under control. Two women in his life are going to make that difficult for him. This is my fourth Triana novel. All of them are totally different and the only consistency is the excellent writing. This one, however, really didn’t grab me at all. I really couldn’t get behind the Jake character, and less so behind the two women in the story, and so the novel just dragged for me. I contemplated giving up on several occasions, but just about managed to reach the end. I oscillated between two and three stars finally giving it the benefit of my doubt.
Profile Image for Greg.
1,109 reviews1,844 followers
July 15, 2017
I think I can safely say this is the best novel I've ever read that mentions Anal Cunt.

The novel falls into the grit-lit genre area, but more of a pulp version of the Donald Ray Pollack or Frank Bill end of the spectrum. I don't mean pulp in a derogatory sense at all, it just has certain elements of the mid-century pulp novels... almost a glee at times at showing the reader a depraved underbelly of society they might not know about, but also fitting that view into a kind of morality play. Like the 50's pulp novels where a character smokes pot once and it leads to a quick spiral where a train is being pulled on them in a dirty East Village bathroom by a bunch of beatniks.

There is a lot of depth to this novel though than in the very entertaining but pretty much one dimensional churned out novels of the 50's and early 60's (I'm thinking of some of the early Lawrence Block stuff that he's been kinda recently re-issuing under his own name that he was writing to pay the bills when he was younger).

A forty-year old bi-polar cowboy meets a 20 year old punk / metal girl. Chaos and destruction follows.
Profile Image for Benoit Lelièvre.
Author 8 books137 followers
June 23, 2016
This fell just short of being a transcendent read, but it was amazing nonetheless. I'm a dog lover (and dog owner) and mental health is an important issue to me, so I might've been predisposed to like THE RUIN SEASON. I loved how Jake's instability dictated the narrative and how the plot derived from his character and decision. The novel felt syncopated and unpredictable, which I really liked. Kristopher Triana is a clever storyteller though and always remains one step before the reader to engineer a tragic and haunting finale that'll stick with you long after you're finished reading it.

THE RUIN SEASON is a both Shakespearan and Southern Gothic. It's an unforgettable experience that balances a few uneven decisions with sheer emotional power.
Profile Image for Ian.
371 reviews54 followers
November 24, 2021
A story very unlike Mr Triana's usual extreme horror extravaganzas, but totally absorbing and well worth a read. Here, you will find mental health issues high on the agenda, all wrapped up in a great storyline which is quite different to his always eagerly expected wonderful supernatural, blood, gore and splatterpunk horror fests that he so magnificently manages to regularly produce for his devoted fans.

Jake is a bipolar, lonesome, modern-day cowboy who lives his life at home on the ranch quietly trying to get his life back together. But there are two women who have recently entered into in his life in a romantic sense, although they are totally different, he has strong feelings for both and now he is faced with making some seriously important, life-changing decisions. The stakes are high and the outcomes are anything but certain.

Absolutely loved the first half of this southern noir drama story as it reminded me of 'Badlands', Jim Thompson stories and a young James Dean from yesteryear all rolled up into one delicious bite-sized nugget of delight. However, although still good, I felt less enamoured with the second half, but the story with its heavy theme and atmospheric dark moods did make sense and worked well whilst on its way to a satisfying conclusion that accurately defined the book's cleverly constructed title - 'The Ruin Season'. Saying that, I thought that the closing Epilogue was simply fantastic, maybe a hard read regarding all the main characters, but certainly a fine and masterful way to round up the tale of Jake's deep and dark psychological adventure.

Intensely enjoyable in the main, and an extremely well crafted piece of enthralling fiction.

Rating: 4.4 stars.
Profile Image for renee w.
141 reviews
May 8, 2023
4.5 ⭐️ If Triana has written it, I’m bound to show up sooner rather than later and this novella was unlike anything I’ve read from him to date. This was not his usual extreme horror, but it didn’t lack
detestable characters, drugs ,love,loss and mental illness. The one thing I wasn’t expecting was this one pulled at my heart strings.
Profile Image for Ben Fitts.
Author 33 books32 followers
April 1, 2020
I came into this book familiar only with Triana's extreme horror and not knowing that this one would be anything different. While I was expecting another delightfully twisted splatter-happy tale what I got was something quite different, but no less wonderful.

The Ruin Season is a dark, character-driven work of modern gothic literature. Built around a solid, crime-fueled plot, the heart of the novel itself is a look into the psyche of a man struggling with mental illness and the way it affects those around him. Perhaps the main theme of the novel is the juxtaposition of a traditional mindset in an ever modernizing and alienating world and the way that theme interacts with such elements as gender, culture and subculture, and of course mental health.

Not only does Triana navigate this potentially treacherous territory with falling into any of the potential pitfalls or delving into wounded conservative gripping (intentional or unintentional), but he as well offers plenty of genuine insights and opinions that are not forced down your throat yet remain refreshingly modern and self-aware.

The novel wasn't what I expecting it to be, but I am certainly glad that I ended up crossing paths with it.
Profile Image for Jason Nickey.
Author 18 books32 followers
January 12, 2022
Having only read one novel from Triana before, I was surprised to see that he also wrote this story, which is a genre I could only describe as gritty rural/country fiction. I'm a similar style as Joy, Pollock, and the like. While I mostly stick to horror, I have a soft spot for this sub genre. This book is slow paced, but great at developing the characters within to a point where you get very invested in the story. I really enjoyed it
Profile Image for B. Kirby.
137 reviews2 followers
October 12, 2022
All the stars. Quite different from this author as I’ve only read his more extreme horror stuff but dang what a good book. Makes me wish he would write more in the “lit-grit” genre. The synopsis will give you all you need to know so just buckle up for a great story with great characters and great writing.

* found a lot of spelling/editing errors in my copy but didn’t take away anything from the book.
Profile Image for Chris St.Pierre.
82 reviews2 followers
March 15, 2023
I listened to the audiobook version of this book, wasn't a fan of the narration which I think took away from a very powerful novel and that is the only thing wrong with this in my opinion. Now this novel has very powerful topics metal illness, drug abuse , sex abuse, vengeance, forgiveness all put in a blender and mixed into a great story. Now the most horrifying thing about The Ruin Season is it could be a true story to anyone in the world.
Profile Image for Nicole Amburgey.
197 reviews11 followers
August 22, 2016
I was impressed with The Ruin Season. Mr. Triana has proven himself exceedingly well in the horror market and this branch into southern noir seemed an easy transition for him. The Ruin Season follows Jake Leonard, a man living in the rural south, who lives alone breaking horses and training dogs. Leonard suffers from bipolar disorder which is a driving motivator for Leonard's choices, pulling him into darker and tragic circumstances. This is a must-read for fans of O'Nan's 'Snow Angels' or Woodrell's 'Winter's Bone.' Triana captures the feel of living in the rural south and the tragedy that comes with not being able to escape your circumstances. Highly recommended read!
Profile Image for Michael James.
515 reviews26 followers
July 28, 2020
Slowly making my way through Triana's books. I'm used to reading hos extreme horror. This was different, but extremely well written. This was a great novel, it was sad but great. Also liked how it dealt with Mental Illness.
Profile Image for Bill.
1,548 reviews109 followers
October 6, 2021
Solid. Lost me a wee at the end, but overall a very dark and engaging read. 3.5 Stars, maybe a bit more, maybe a bit less. Not sure. Need to let it gel.
Profile Image for David Bridges.
249 reviews14 followers
September 15, 2016
The Ruin Season is one of those books that are a breeze to read simply because it is a great story. Jake Leonard is an interesting and conflicted character. I have mentioned in other reviews that I am partial to books about mental illness or contain characters that struggle with a mental disorder. Triana treats the subject with respect, and despite how complicated Jake can be, you just have to feel for him. I found myself talking to Jake while reading the book telling him "No! Don't do that man!" .

Set somewhere In the south (I don't think is states exactly unless I missed it) my guess would be in the mountains due to all the snow, maybe western NC or Kentucky. Jake Leonard seems to have found some balance after recovering from his dark and violent past. He has a diagnosis of Bi-Polar with some psychotic features, but he takes his medications as prescribed, maybe with a little too much alcohol. He keeps to himself while working on a ranch and training dogs on the side. He does have a dirty little secret, he is sleeping with Nikki, the Sheriff's nineteen year old daughter. Jake is 20 years her senior. He is conflicted about this but keeps it up none the less. When Nikki ends up pregnant things become very complicated for Jake. As the story progresses we learn about Jake's violent past and witness his present begin to unfold in a series of unfortunate events, some of them violent. Can Jake hold it together? You should go ahead and read The Ruin Season to find out. It is superbly written and the story unfolds so seamlessly I blew through the 300+ page novel is a few sittings.

The publisher of this book is one of my favorites, Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing. I have enjoyed every book I have read of theirs and I have pretty much purchased all of their books. I have another book of Triana's short stories that I plan to check out next. I will check out his future releases as well if he continues to write great books like The Ruin Season. Triana is going to be a new author to look for.
Profile Image for VICKI HERBERT.
422 reviews5 followers
January 16, 2021
I'm bipolar about this story...

No spoilers: 2 1/2 stars. I really hate to bring this party down because this author has such talent but I would not classify this novel as southern noir... this was more like tales from the 'hood...

Jake Leonard is a bipolar ex-con living on a ranch (that's the only southern part that I saw)... Jake is 39 and his girlfriend is 19 and pregnant with his child...

...Complicating things is Jake's ex-wife Michele who is bored with her current marriage and wants to hook up again with Jake while keeping it hidden from her husband...

I'm bipolar about this novel: I think the author has talent (read his novel GONE TO SEE THE RIVER MAN) and you'll see why... but this story was as bipolar as Jake and myself...

There is a small town drug dealer, a sheriff who readers can have a love/hate relationship with, messed up teens and their parents and lots of drug and alcohol use... there is also degrading teen internet porn...

...but for me the most glaring and distracting problems with the novel were the many typos and wrong use of words... many, many, many...

...Examples: dropped "y" from naughty, didn't instead of hadn't, nit instead of knit, unto instead of into, add instead of ad (as in ad man), wrap instead of rap (as in rap sheet)...

For a writer of this caliber to allow his work to be published in such condition is a shame... shame, shame, shame...

Warning to some readers: graphic and degrading sexual content (especially toward women and young girls)...
Profile Image for Thomas Mumme.
Author 54 books4 followers
October 27, 2016
Wow, I could not put this down. Kristopher Triana's writing is so incredibly visceral. He is a master at setting tone and location. You can picture every setting. His world building is only matched by his fully fleshed out characters. If you like Cormac McCarthy, then Triana is a must read. It has the feel of great works like NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN and HELL OR HIGH WATER. I loved Triana's first book, GROWING DARK, which is a collection of short stories, so I was interested in seeing how he would be able to handle his first published novel. He handled it and then some. This is a writer to watch and is only the beginning of what I think will be a long career.
Profile Image for Meg.
7 reviews1 follower
August 2, 2018
Absolutely beautifully written. I don't think that I could say enough good things about this book. I am relatively new to Kristopher Triana's stories, this being my third, but you've got a fan for life with me. At the end of the book was my favorite line:

"The way I figure it, crazy is somethin' that accumulates over the course of a hard life. So hell, most everyone's crazy. It's all a matter of degree."

Thank you for this story; it came to me at the right time in my life. And, to everybody else, read this book!
Profile Image for John Bender.
Author 1 book21 followers
July 3, 2018

Heavy, dark, dark, noir. Like deep-cuts Jim Thompson. This one hurts to read. I loved it. It'll stick with me for a while.
Profile Image for Mike Kazmierczak.
347 reviews13 followers
October 3, 2021
Before I get started on this one, a couple shout-outs to Charles Kahlenberg. I listened to THE RUIN SEASON as an Audiobook narrated by Charles Kahlenberg. His voice fit the story perfectly. I am so pleased that I heard it this way because the style, the mood, the emotions all rolled from his voice perfectly! Now, onto the story itself. As I was listening to it, the story reminded me a lot of Joe R. Lansdale's stories. Or maybe a Lansdale world. I could very easily picture the events from this book as occurring in the same world as Hap & Leonard or countless other of his books. Something where I start reading for the story but realize quickly that the characters are so much more engrossing that the already good story.

In this case, despite the protagonist's desire for a simple life, he has a lot happening. Jake Leonard is close to forty. He's divorced due to his bipolar disorder. He's dating the sheriff's 19-year-old daughter. And drugs, alcohol, and death (all happening to others) are going to make Jake's life hard.

The story description will tell you more but I'm not. That was enough to get me engaged and as I mentioned, it took me nothing to become engrossed with the events happening. Unfortunately I could tell about halfway through that the ending was not going to be happy. The impending doom kept stalking forward and I hoped that somehow it wasn't going to be as bad as I thought. Suspense was only part of it; I knew that the emotional impact of this good guy hitting some sort of bottom was going to hurt. And that is when you know that you are reading a really good book!
Profile Image for Christina Eleanor.
167 reviews8 followers
April 24, 2020
I was not sure what this book was about when I received it, but it was a nice change of pace from all of the horror I have been reading lately. I will say that knowing this is not a horror novel, it shows the depth of genres that Kristopher Triana can successfully write.

Jake is a solitary man who lives in the rural South. He has a ranch where he keeps those that understand him best, horses and dogs. Jake has always been good with animals and uses that knowledge to train them for himself and others. He has an illness that broke up his marriage to the love of his life, Michelle. The Ruin Season is the story of Jake and how he has managed to live with his bi-polar illness in the years after his divorce. His quiet, unassuming life turns into a whirlwind very quickly based on some choices he makes for himself and others.

This was a compelling story about a man battling his demons. You can see he has a lot of good in him, with a lot of bad hanging around waiting for its opportunity. The narration by Charles Kahlenberg was fantastic! I liked that Triana took on the subject of being bi-polar and explaining through Jake’s eyes what it is like to live with that illness. Because of this candid insight into Jake’s mind, we feel his pain, sorrow, and happiness throughout the book. Kristopher Triana has the uncanny ability to make you enter the psyche of his characters as the story unravels. We are lead down a path of twists and turns with outcomes least expected.
Profile Image for lee_readsbooks .
397 reviews59 followers
April 26, 2023
The Ruin Season is the re-released first novel by Kristopher Triana and is not the typical splatterpunk style we are used to reading by Triana.

This is a dark southern style story about Jake, a bipolar 40 year old divorced cowboy. Living out on his ranch, Jake trains horses and dogs and has a woman in his life that brings about both of them having to make some serious decisions in their lives and relationship. Jake struggles with his mental illness but does not let it define him.

The first half of this book drew me in so quickly. The content is very heavy and started weighing on my heart. At this point I was feeling I wanted more of Jake by himself, not wrapped up with other people or drama.
Although not as enjoyable, I was still captivated with with the second half of the book and the ending is what made this book for me.

⚠️ Content warning - mental illness, teenage pregnancy, severe drug abuse, rape.
Profile Image for Jeff Waitkev (JeffReadsHorror).
157 reviews5 followers
May 6, 2023
As I write this, I am basking in this book’s brilliance. Not as extreme as what I’ve come to expect from Kris, but this one more than makes up for it with a harrowing story about mental illness and love. The gruff feel mixed with the beautiful writing are staples of his work and are a big reason why I keep coming back for more of his stuff. This one truly demolished me emotionally, and I cannot recommend this enough!
Profile Image for Brady Wells.
19 reviews
May 15, 2023
The kind of dark literary fiction I love. Primarily about mental health struggles, substance abuse, and the subsequent turmoil on relationships. These characters felt real to me, I really felt for them and empathized too much for comfort at times.
"Sometimes people can't be helped or saved.
Sometimes love just ain't enough."
2 reviews1 follower
March 8, 2017
After the brilliant debut short story collection (“Growing Dark”) I had high hopes for Kristopher Triana’s first novel. The stories in the collection varied from pure into-your-face horror to more subtle, psychological pieces. One could expect Kristopher to start with a horror novel, but it’s not the case.

The Ruin Season is a drama, a story of a man suffering from mental issues, from his alienation from the society, from the mistakes he made in the past and his struggles to find peace and his place in this world. And, unlike the tons of mainstream books we get every day, this book has guts and a heart. People compare the book to the works of such masters as Cormac McCarthy, Flannery O’Connor etc., but I was glad to see that Triana has found his own voice and had honed it long before the book.

I’m not going to dive into the plot, because the book is all about the details. Triana is a true wordsmith, and I’m not talking about the basic writing skills you can learn at writer workshops or by simply reading and writing a lot. He filled his writing with his own blood, his thoughts, his experience, and it’s very compelling. It’s a very masculine book written by a men’s man, and it’s one of the things that make it so powerful. It’s very American. I’m not an American, and the book gets a few extra points for me for the vivid pictures of the rural America that are so realistic that I almost feel that I was living there while reading the book. Details bought me lock, stock and barrel. The bits of cowboy philosophy (“Life’s like a roll of toilet paper, son. The closer you get to the end, the faster it goes.” and so on), the parts about dog training (Kristopher himself is a professional dog trainer, so he really knows this stuff), some things about man-woman relations you have to experience yourself to write about, phrases like "Boy, you must be happier than a dead hog in the sunshine", the little touches to the portrait that make the characters that make them so very much alive.

Well, it’s not a masterpiece, but it’s very close to it. If you ask me who will write a next Great American Novel, I’ll say Kris Triana. Yeah, I can go so far. The book is promising as hell.
Don’t miss it. You can miss one of the best books of the decade.
Profile Image for SSteppenwolFF.
81 reviews29 followers
March 27, 2022
Great book about Love and Mental Illness which some would say are one and the same ...
Displaying 1 - 27 of 27 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.