Rating 4 Stars
*Contains some spoilers*
TW: dark themes including assault
If you haven’t heard, the Devil’s Night series is about a group of four men, known as the Horsemen. Years ago when they were still in high school, they created a tradition to cause havoc and mayhem on Devil’s Night (October 30th) each year. A few years later, now in college, the men get caught in a dramatic turn of events and three of the four end up in prison. Fast forward to present day and the men are out and want their revenge. Books one and two are about Michael Crist and Kai Mori, respectively; Kill Switch is the third book in the series and we finally get a better in-depth understanding of Damon Torrance. At last!
If you’ve read Corrupt (#1) and Hideaway (#2), you’ll be under the impression that Damon may have been one of the Horsemen previously but now, he’s endangered their lives and is not to be trusted. But how much of this is perspective?
Everyone is town is scared of Damon Torrance. He’s dangerous, manipulative and just plain mean; but what most people don’t see is how fiercely protective and loyal he is to those he considers ‘his’. This small list of people include his half sister Banks; his friends: Michael, Kai and especially Will; and Winter – the girl he met and connected with as a child; the one he had a part in hurting all those years ago and knew was going to blossom into a strong, determined, beautiful woman; the woman that was meant to be his. He is the ultimate anti-hero.
To be honest after reading Hideaway, I didn’t see how this series could get better. But I was wrong. Kill Switch was everything I didn’t know I needed and I loved it. It begins with meeting Winter, a blind woman, at the wedding of her older sister and Damon. The wedding is all part of Damon’s plot to exact his revenge on Winter and she knows it. She doesn’t let this or being visually impaired stop her from trying to undermine him and regain control of her life. I loved that she was still such a kickass, independent character and these traits only continued to grow when she and Damon finally grew closer. I should also point out that Damon may be married to her sister but they don’t ever sleep together and are rarely ever in the same room.
The reason he wants to take revenge of Winter, the girl he’s always loved… Well, all those years ago when Winter was 8 and Damon was 11, they met and developed a fast connection. It was during this time that an accident occurred leaving Winter with irreparable optical damage to both eyes. Winter is sent away to a special school for the blind and doesn’t come back until freshman year of high school. Being a small town, Damon chances upon her immediately and is warned by everyone (Winter’s family, their school principal, Winter herself) to stay away. This doesn’t stop Damon and he becomes her ‘ghost’, a secretive friend who visits every now and then. When Winter is 16 (and Damon, 19), a physical relationship occurs and when Winter finally discovers her ‘ghost’ is Damon, she cries rape resulting in his being sent to prison. She’s also 1-2 months away from turning 17 and therefore still a minor in their state which adds to the charges.
Rape/sexual assault and consent are very sensitive issues but there are few things I’d like to add surrounding these topics, specific to this story. Firstly, the evidence that came about was a video of them kissing which then falls to the ground so that you never see anything but do hear the sounds. She claims she never agreed to it but when you read the scene, her response could be construed as misleading due to their previous interactions. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a firm believer in consent and don’t agree with victim blaming whatsoever but I definitely feel like both parties should have been clearer in establishing whether this was okay or not. She initially agrees to a photo, Damon states he’d prefer a video so he can remember and replay every second when they’re not together, and Winter responds with a half-hearted ‘mhmm’ (agreement?) followed by an impatient plea to continue the sex-ing. The reader should be aware of and consider that giving half-answers (things like ‘uh-huh’, ‘whatever’, ‘yeah sure’) and using silence or topic changes as agreements is the norm for their interactions so I could definitely understand why Damon believed Winter was fine with it. But again, a simple “was that a yes?” could have cleared this whole thing up. Also when looking back on the scene and seeing her POV, you can absolutely believe she would’ve said ‘yes’ if he’d asked her to clarify.
Secondly, she claims that he raped her because she agreed to sex with her ‘ghost’ friend but didn’t know he was Damon. Again this is a very complex issue because when she first meets her ‘ghost’, she believes he is in fact Damon and then decides it couldn’t be because she gets along with her ‘ghost’ too well. She’s also the one who initiates sex with him and doesn’t seem to care that she doesn’t know his name prior. As previously stated, its a small town and she even admits it would be a really rare, abnormal circumstance that there would be two guys ‘stalking’ her (Damon and the ghost); therefore it’s a pretty high chance Damon and the ghost are one and the same. I also think the characters claiming he took advantage of her being visually impaired to get away with ‘tricking’ her into sex really underestimates Winter. She’s smart, determined, stubborn and knows her own mind. If she really cared to know his name before sleeping with him, she absolutely could have figured it out and at the very least asked him. So it kind of frustrated me that she was okay about sleeping with her nameless, faceless ‘ghost’ but once she put Damon’s name to him, she claims rape and coercion. It begs the question: had she discovered it had been anyone else in town, would she still feel the same?
It’s a very complex situation with two different sides and I think Penelope Douglas tackled this issue exceptionally. Douglas allows the reader to really see all the angles of their relationship and history; and still provides hope that Damon and Winter will be able to work through everything and end up happily together. Damon, himself, is such an enigma (even when you get his POV) and I really couldn’t picture anyone else being as perfect for him as Winter. Both characters have their strengths and weaknesses, and together they’re like two pieces of a puzzle that just fit together seamlessly (after they get over their misconceptions).
Kill Switch also features an excerpt for the fourth and final installment of the series and if I thought I was already excited for Will’s story, well that excitement was nothing compared to how I feel now. I cannot wait!