This Pestilence book review explores the first book in Laura Thalassa’s Four Horseman series, a romance unlike anything you’ve read before.
I’m still relatively new to the romance genre, and I’ve only read a couple of romantasy books to date, but even I can tell there’s something wholly unique about the Four Horseman series by Laura Thalassa.
After all, if you’re able to turn the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse into your main male leads in a romance novel, you’ve gotta be pretty damn good at your job.
I went into this series with a lot of trepidation. I may be new to romance, but I already know what I like, and I’m not afraid to DNF a book if it doesn’t hook me right away. That said, I’ve always loved dystopian novels, and I’m constantly on the lookout for the next book that grabs my attention and refuses to let go.
I think you can see where this Pestilence book review is going.
The story starts out simple enough. About five years prior to the beginning of the book, the four horseman of the apocalypse appear atop their otherworldly steeds, cutting power, destroying technology, and sending the world into chaos. Then they disappear.
That is, until Pestilence shows up and begins spreading disease across the United States. As he approaches her hometown, Sara Burns and a squad of fellow firefighters draw matchsticks to see who will stay behind in an attempt to kill him while the others help their friends and families evacuate.
Sara, of course, gets the privilege of doing the deed. Remarkably, she hits her target and thinks she’s rid the world of this monster. But there’s only one problem—no one told her Pestilence and his horse are unkillable. By all rights, she should be dead, but the horseman spares her from both death and disease, keeping her as his prisoner so she will know suffering as he has.
You can imagine that this isn’t the best start to any relationship, but if you’re into enemies-to-lovers and opposites-attract romances, there’s a lot to enjoy amongst the pages of this book. After all, the horseman is a divine creature who is not human despite looking like one, and Sara is as human as they come, fighting to stay alive and keep her conscience clear along the way.
It’s not easy. As much as she wants to deny it, Sara must admit she finds Pestilence attractive. It’s not only that his body is literally divine; it’s that his fingers are gentle as they heal her wounds and care for her. No matter how much he insists he’s doing this to prolong her distress, there is something intimate and soft in the way he protects her.
I’ve read plenty of books where the connection between two opposing characters comes too easily, but Pestilence does not fall into this trap. The chemistry is there, to be sure, but Sara often wonders if she’s betraying her people every time she catches herself giving into his softer side. And for his part, Pestilence cannot understand why he feels the way he does toward Sara. It’s much too human, but the more he fights against it, the harder it becomes to deny how she’s changing him.
I love a good forbidden romance, and I’ve come to realize I can get behind a well-written slow-burn as well. I would say this book falls into both of those categories, and it adds gravity to the story. As they traverse the country, Pestilence refuses to stop spreading his plague, and yet he can see how this destruction affects Sara. Though this is his nature, he finds that Sara’s presence in his life has altered him—he thinks and feels differently than he ever has before.
Pestilence was such a fascinating character because you could feel the humanity seeping into him throughout the book—and that’s the heart of this series. That’s what makes it work. Yes, he’s a destructive force of divinity, but he’s learning how to live. Learning how to love. In more ways than one because, yeah, it’s not like he has experience being with other women.
This could have easily been a silly little story about banging one of the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse, but there’s a lot of weight to what Laura Thalassa is saying within these pages. Pestilence is about the strength of love, and how humanity holds within it the power of their own destruction—as well as their own salvation. Seeing Pestilence discover the goodness of human nature instilled hope that amongst all of the horror and tragedy in our world, there are still good people who will fight for us not because they are obligated to but because they know it is what’s right.
I won’t give away any major spoilers in this Pestilence book review, but I will say that the end of the book is immensely satisfying. It’s so easy to understand the complexity of Sara’s feelings for Pestilence, especially because you’ve been right there with her every step of the way. The conclusion to this story provides hope for the future of humanity, as well as sets up the next book in the series: War.
Knowing now the scope of this saga and the purpose each book will fulfill, I’m more excited than ever to continue my journey with the Four Horseman to see how it’ll all end—or maybe, how it will all begin again.
‘Pestilence’ by Laura Thalassa published on August 15, 2023
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