We’re back with a Famine book review, discussing the third novel in Laura Thalassa’s Four Horsemen saga.
If you haven’t done so already, be sure to check out my book reviews for Pestilence and War. There’s a lot to love within the pages of these first two novels, but if you’ve been looking for something a little different, then Famine might be what you’re after.
I’ll admit it took me a little longer to get into this one than the others because Famine feels like it leans a little heavier into dark romance (a subgenre that I am tentatively exploring the edges of before I decide to jump in feet first). The character of Famine is much more cruel than his predecessors, and especially my favorite horseman (as of this writing), War. Yet, Laura Thalassa makes it much easier to sympathize with his hatred for the human race.
Like many of the other books, our narrator is a human woman who stumbles into a horseman’s path, and the two of them get swept up into each other’s gravity until they reach the point of no return. But there are plenty of aspects to this book that set it apart from the first two.
First and foremost, Ana may be my favorite heroine to date. I have a soft spot for all of them because Laura Thalassa knows how to write a fantastic female main character. Each has been equal parts strong and intelligent—not to mention sarcastic and witty—as well as vulnerable and relatable. These books are literally life and death, but the human characters are aware of how unbelievable their circumstances have become since meeting one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Even acknowledging that much goes a long way in helping suspend disbelief.
There’s just something special about Ana, however. She’s a sex worker who has a penchant for saying exactly what’s on her mind (and most of the time it’s lewd) and refuses to take shit from anyone—least of all Famine. That’s not to say she has no sense of self-preservation—in fact, she might be the least self-sacrificing of any of our heroines. In my mind, that made her even more real and human.
As with each of these books, there is a laundry list of trigger warnings to heed before diving in. Ana, in particular, has endured great abuse at the hands of family and strangers alike. She has seen the absolute worst of humanity and has lived to tell the tale. As a result, she’s much less sympathetic toward the rest of her species, though she still believes what Famine is doing is wrong.
What I found especially interesting about this book is that Famine has also undergone his fair share of torture. After being captured, he was torn apart and put back together so many times, he doesn’t have a single soft spot for humanity. Well, he has one single soft spot, and that’s it. He is the cruelest of his brothers by way of his nature and his experiences, and that shows up time and time again throughout his book.
It was strange to be completely understanding of his position and completely horrified by what he does at the same time. The extent to which he has experienced the darkest parts of humanity is unrivaled compared to his brothers, and only someone like Ana, who can relate to what he’s gone through, would be the kind of person to make him turn his back on his duty.
If you came to this Famine book review looking for a list of tropes, then I won’t make you wait any longer. More than the others, this is a slow-burn, but as with most books written in this way, the—ahem—climax of their relationship is totally worth it. This book is also the kinkiest of the three I’ve read so far. Famine and Ana have some fantastic banter, and there’s no denying he’s a bit of a sadist and she’s a bit of a brat. There’s also one very inventive bondage scene that added a little extra spice to an already hot-as-hell moment.
These two had to work a bit harder to get to where they are by the end of the book, but it also made the build-up to their physical relationship much more believable. That, and once Famine decides he’s all-in, there’s really no backtracking from that.
All of the Four Horsemen books are startlingly funny, but Famine really does top the list. Ana is a spit-fire, and some of her lines are laugh-out-loud funny. The way she sees the world is both honest and unapologetic, and though she has every reason to hate her circumstances, she can find the humor in it, too. That goes such a long way when you’re reading about all the death and destruction she witnesses.
As always, I’m keeping this Famine book review spoiler-free, but I will mention that the end of this book had me more excited than ever to pick up the next one. With Death on the horizon, the stakes have never been higher, and even though I know we can expect a happily ever after for all the brothers and their human partners, I have to admit that I’m especially curious to see how the the last horseman will be convinced to walk away from his task.
The romance in these books is fantastic, but I’ve been constantly blown away by the intricacy of the stories. Spanning the entire globe, each horseman and each human has a different dynamic to keep you entertained, but beyond that, there is an overarching story that makes you question why God sent the Four Horsemen to earth and why He(She/They) has allowed his creations to stray from their tasks.
When Death has had the final word, what will happen next? There’s now only one more book between me and that answer!
‘Famine’ by Laura Thalassa published on August 15, 2023
Look for more recommendations like this Famine book review on our books page.