Butcher and Blackbird by Brynne Weaver

“Butcher and Blackbird” takes readers on a twisted journey through the darkly comedic realm of a friends-to-lovers dynamic between two unconventional protagonists who share a unique bond as serial killers. The narrative, influenced by TV shows such as Dexter and Hannibal, unfolds through a snapshot timeline, allowing glimpses into the protagonists’ lives during their shared “kill time” over several years.

The characters, Rowan and Sloane, offer an interesting dynamic as the sunshine chef and the grumpy-spirited yet lethal partner. While their on-page banter is engaging, the narrative falls short in providing a deeper exploration of their personalities. Both characters, despite their murderous tendencies, lack the brokenness typically associated with such dark souls, making it somewhat challenging to fully invest in their roles as serial killers.

Sloane, though highly functional in her day job, appears detached from the psychological aspects of her killings, portraying them as impulsive acts rather than rooted in a profound motive. Similarly, Rowan, with a successful life as a chef and an established social circle, seems to lack an authentic connection to the choices that define his dark side.

The narrative leans heavily into vividly describing the action, particularly the gruesome details of the killings, which may be unsettling for some readers. However, the imbalance between the gore and the lack of emotional depth in the characters raises questions about the overall cohesiveness of the story.

The romantic aspect between Rowan and Sloane was cringy at best. The chemistry between them, though apparent in the banter and interactions, falters when it comes to the intimate scenes. Strangely, the connection seems more palpable during the acts of violence than during moments of passion.

The audiobook, performed by Joe Arden and Lucy Rivers in duet narration, has its merits but also some notable drawbacks. Lucy Rivers delivers a commendable performance, while Joe Arden’s attempt at an Irish accent falls short of authenticity, leading to a somewhat distracting listening experience. A more nuanced South Boston Irish accent might have been a better choice.

“Butcher and Blackbird” stands out for its unique premise and unconventional approach to the dark romcom genre. While the narrative successfully captures attention with its blend of romance and crime, the lack of depth in character development and the uneven focus on gore versus emotional connection leave room for improvement. Overall, it’s an intriguing yet imperfect addition to the genre, offering a distinctive but not fully realized story.

Book Stats:
Rating 2.5/5
Series: The Ruinous Love Trilogy
Tropes: anti-hero, close-proximity, danger-stalker-kidnapping, dark, grumpy-sunshine, meet-cute,  rom-com, slow burn
POP: 78%