I love a good post-apocalyptic story, and you can’t get much more apocalyptic than Laura Thalassa’s Four Horsemen series, which starts with Pestilence. And yes, it’s the four horsemen as in the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. See, can’t get much more apocalyptic than that.
So, here’s how this world works. Five years ago, the Horsemen rode out on Earth. Pestilence, War, Famine, and Death each picked a direction and rode. And in their wake, everything that made up the modern world stopped working. Then, they suddenly disappeared. Now, some things are starting to come back, well, sort of. There is some television, there is some electricity, but not much. And they aren’t very trustworthy. But there is enough television to let people know that Pestilence has now come back, and where he rides, the Messianic Fever follows. The modern day plague has a 100% death rate. And it’s not a pretty death. It involves swellings, and sores, and pustules, and just yucky in general. Luckily, Pestilence the Conqueror is following a predictable path, so they are able to issue evacuation warnings so that the towns can empty. The further you can get from Pestilence, the better.
Sara is one of the few firefighters in her town who stayed to help everyone evacuate. Now it’s down to just these few, and they are drawing straws to see who is going to stay and kill Pestilence when he rides through their town. Guess who the lucky one is? She knows that it’s a suicide mission, but if she can kill Pestilence, then she can save the world, so her life is a good tradeoff. So, she sees off her friends, and goes to find the perfect place to hide so she can kill Pestilence with her grandfather’s rifle. Only, it turns out, Pestilence is harder to kill than you might think, and now Sara is stuck with him. He’s not going to kill her. He’s going to make her suffer.
This story just emotionally wiped me out. I had to spend a couple of days processing it until I could talk about how it made me feel. It’s a slow book. Not just a slow burn, but a slow book. There is a lot of riding, and a lot of analyzing of feelings, and a lot of suffering. There are quick bursts of action in places, but most of the time, it’s a fairly slow book. And that’s not a bad thing. It’s kind of like the Lord of the Rings books. There’s a lot of walking and riding to get to where they are going, but it’s during that walking and riding that you get to know the characters and get to see what makes them tick. Then you get the quick bursts of action which give you a nice jolt and make the characters realize things.
There are times I hate Pestilence, but the thing is, as I think about it now, it’s kind of hard to hate him. It’s like hating a hurricane or a force of nature. Pestilence just IS. How can you hate something that just is? I could easier hate a tree. Of course, that doesn’t mean that I like him a lot of the time. He is who he is, and he is implacable. He is doing his God-given duty, and Pestilence isn’t just his name, it is who he is.
Sara isn’t always likable either. I truly dislike her a couple of times, but in general, I tend to like her. She’s dealing with a hell of a lot of stuff and not just physical pain or anything. There’s a lot there, and I don’t think that I could’ve handled everything that Sara had to deal with. I would’ve probably totally shattered, never to be able to be put back together again.
I can’t wait for War to come out. It’s supposed to come out soon.
Rob and Ruth just broke my heart and then put it back together again. It was a beautiful section of the book.
OK, that’s all I have to say today. Go check it out and make sure to tell me what you think of it. Happy reading!