Series: The Four Horsemen #1
Published: 14 September, 2018 by Createspace
Genres: New Adult, Romance, Paranormal Romance
Buy on Amazon
View on Goodreads
I’m in a bookclub that’s based around monster/human romance novels. And so far, we’ve stuck to the same author, but this time we decided to switch it up and try something new. Enter Pestilence, by Laura Thalassa.
Pestilence is set during the apocalypse. Pestilence is the first horseman of the apocalypse who comes to Earth. He rides from city to city, and as he passes through each one, the people who inhabit it die of an incurable plague. Sara is a firefighter in the Pacific Northwest, and she and her coworkers draw lots to see which one will stay behind to try to kill Pestilence as he approaches, knowing that it is likely a suicide mission.
Sara finds pestilence, shoots him, then lights him on fire. Unfortunately for her, Pestilence is a horseman of the apocalypse. He isn’t mortal, and even though being shot and burned alive is excruciatingly painful, it doesn’t kill him. It just makes him angry. But rather than killing Sara, Pestilence takes her prisoner, telling her that he wants to make her suffer. And even though Sara is horrified at the prospect, she also looks at Pestilence and realizes that he is superhumanly hot.
This would *not* be my thought process upon failing to incinerate and then being taken captive by one of the horsemen of the apocalypse. It’s probably the thing that I disliked most about the book, strangely enough. I get that Pestilence is supernaturally pretty. But it seems a bit of a weird juxtaposition.
Even though Pestilence plans to make Sara suffer, most of the very real torture that she goes through in the first part of the book isn’t because Pestilence was trying to hurt her. It’s more of a case of “I’m an inhuman being wrapped in a magical version of a human body, and humans are a lot more fragile than I realized.” And after Sara is badly injured and needs time to heal, Pestilence’s journey slows down a lot, and the two of them start to get to know each other. And they realize that there’s a lot more to the other than they had originally thought.
The more he learns about Sara and her life, the more Pestilence starts to break out of his shell and experience human life and emotions. She introduces him to things like beer and pie, and he very gradually learns to view humanity as something that isn’t inherently evil. He also starts feeling extremely protective toward Sara, and realizes that the reason why he spared her wasn’t to make her suffer so much as because something about her intrigued him. Meanwhile Sara has the existential crisis of realizing that she’s developing feelings for someone who is quite literally wiping out mankind, and there’s a ton of guilt that comes with it.
This is definitely a darker kind of romance story. In between the typical getting-to-know-each-other-and-falling-in-love scenes, Sara is watching people die of plague as Pestilence carries out his mission. There are scenes that will make you cry. But one of the things that I love about the monster romance genre is its exploration of what makes us people, including the good, the bad, and the mundane aspects of the human condition. And that’s something that Thalassa shines at as Pestilence goes from someone who is inhuman but looks like a human to someone who embraces his humanity. My one critique of Pestilence that it would have been really nice to see more of Pestilence’s point of view. We see a lot of him learning how to human, but not as much exploration of Sara learning about Pestilence’s life before he came to Earth. She loves his human aspects, but he’s a lot more than that, and it would have been so interesting to explore that.
On the whole though, Pestilence was an enjoyable read, and I breezed through it in just two days. If you’re into monster/paranormal/post-apocalyptic romance, it’s worth a look.