The story starts with the night that changed Nicky's life from a careless guy who loved dancing to a little mouse living in a house with a strange man who promised to keep him safe. Yet he somehow also kept Nicky inside, afraid to even open the door. Staying in the shadows of this neglected house in the middle of nowhere. After two weeks of being all along after he founds his keeper dead, his only resolve is to make a little bit of the darkness disappear. He won't venture outside but he can pay for someone to take down the over grown vegetation and offer a bit of light into his eternal darkness. He didn't expect Cai - hard working yet knowing nothing about gardening..
Cai needs money.. Fresh out of Junior prison for arson, who would offer him a job? and since he has a little 14 years old girl to take care of - Soph - who was left for his care by his step-sister he will do right about anything. Seeing the add in the paper and what was offered he took it with both hands even if the owner of the house won't even greet him and even if everyday he returns home more bruised and aching than the day before.
Both men didn't expect to find kindness and friendship in one another. Nicky had enough of "people" in general. He is more or less resigned for the life he have been living for the past 2 years but as he finds himself interacting with Cai more as the days goes by, and moreover when danger seems to follow both of them around they somehow get closer and realize they come to trust one another. There are many secrets between them, more of Nicky's but some unsaid truths by Cai as well, and yet it doesn't matter when their actions seems to show their true feelings. Nicky was prickly and mean at times but his words were his defense mechanism and Cai could see right through it. He was patient. Waiting for Nicky, knowing his actions and time will make Nicky trust him.
It was beautiful and heart breaking seeing these two learn to understand and care for one another. Though Nicky seems like a fragile ghost of a guy there is far more to him, and as he becomes more confident in himself and his connection with Cai he shows how strong and brave he can be. How much of a friend he is. The kindness Cai showed him frightened him at first, but little by little it also melted his heart. Yet Cai's past even if not as horrible as Nicky's still had very little love. Being a parent to Soph - the nephew he didn't even know about before his sister showed up to visit him when he was in prison - turned out to be the family he wished he had. they were two lost souls clutching one another in the storm that is life. Yet they managed to make a real family together with Nicky and Loz - Soph's best friend and significant other.
This story is mostly told by both MCs, but there's little by Loz as well. It was a nice touch, which added another layer to the story and brought us more details about past horrors which somehow connected to Nicky's ordeal. Loz is gender neutral and is referred to as "they" (instead of "she" or "he"). I liked the way Suki dealt with the issues of gender and sexual orientation. It wasn't about the gender of the person in front of either character it was about the PERSON and how much they meant to them, how they made their heart flutter.
There's A LOT going on in this book and it takes us a LONG while to understand just HOW horrible the whole story truly is. I didn't understand or expect most of it. While I was right in little guesses along the book, what I DIDN'T know put everything to shame. I think I can just reassure you that we don't get real graphic horrors in this one but what we are TOLD is enough. I'd say this book isn't for the faint of heart.. But if you're ready for a BEAUTIFUL love story in the most unlikely setting please give this one a go! Like everything else I've read by Suki it's so compelling it's impossible to put down, it's heart crushing and sad but it's SO WORTH IT getting to the end.
9-10 October 2018