“Love, affection, compassion—these are the few redeeming qualities your kind has, and now I’m being tempted by them and it is breaking me in two.”
They came to earth–Pestilence, War, Famine, Death–four horsemen riding their screaming steeds, racing to the corners of the world. Four horsemen with the power to destroy all of humanity. They came to earth, and they came to end us all.
When Pestilence comes for Sara Burn’s town, one thing is certain: everyone she knows and loves is marked for death. Unless, of course, the angelic-looking horseman is stopped, which is exactly what Sara has in mind when she shoots the unholy beast off his steed.
Too bad no one told her Pestilence can’t be killed.
Now the horseman, very much alive and very pissed off, has taken her prisoner, and he’s eager to make her suffer. Only, the longer she’s with him, the more uncertain she is about his true feelings towards her … and hers towards him.
And now, well, Sara might still be able to save the world, but in order to do so, she’ll have to sacrifice her heart in the process.
Please Note: There is violence, torture, near-death experiences, Stockholm Syndrome and sexual scenes in this book, not suitable for readers under the edge of 18.
Spoilers: Please note that my review will contain spoilers!
The world is dying. One of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, Pestilence, arose from his sleep with only one purpose: to spread disease around the world and extinguish humankind, for they all deserve to die according to him.
“Why did you have to ruin the world?” the horseman retorts. “I didn’t.” “You did. Just as I don’t have to touch each man to kill him, nor do you have to personally light the world on fire to be the reason it burns.”
Sara Burns is a canadian firefighter that, along with her co-workers, draws matches to decide who will stay behind to try to kill Pestilence. Sara is that unfortunate soul. She ambushes Pestilence and attempts to kill him by shooting him and then burning him alive. He begs her not to do it but she ignores his pleas. She thinks he’s dead and the ways she kills him haunts her. Much to her surprise, Pestilence is very alive and well and he takes her with the purpose of making her suffer for what she’s done to him. Pestilence is disgusted by the way Sara attempted to kill him and that action only makes him believe more that humankind is wicked and that it deserves to die.
“I begged,” he finally says. “Broken and bleeding, I beseeched you for mercy, and you gave me none.”
As you can probably tell by now, this book is raw and violent. There are passages that are very difficult to read and Pestilence’s actions often annoyed me. The truth is: you have to read this book with a very open mind and you mustn’t forget: Pestilence is not human, nor does he have human emotions nor manners. He doesn’t comprehend human actions nor needs. It’s only after having Sara in his power that he realizes she has needs like eating or sleeping. He doesn’t understand she is sensitive to weather until she almost dies of hypothermia in his arms.
Sara soon realizes that everytime she has a need that requires being in a house, the owner of that house is infected by Pestilence and it is she who stays with the owners until their last breath giving them comfort. Pestilence is always absent during these parts and she begins to wonder why. In one of these times, Sara attempts to flee and is wounded by Pestilence. After that episode, he follows her everywhere and it’s in this time readers begin to see a change between them. Sara begins to feel some sort of attachment to Pestilence, drawn by his beauty and naivete. Because the book is from Sara’s perspective, we don’t have access to Pestilence’s thoughts but we begin to see Pestilence more observant of Sara like he’s studying her.
“This is not lust I feel, dear Sara. And I hope you are half as frightened of it as I am.”
It’s only when they arrive at an old couple’s house, that the elders make Pestilence realize his true feelings for Sara. That part of the book is really emotional because, despite dying slowly, the old couple accept their fate and still try to help Pestilence and Sara.
When Pestilence and Sara are brutally attacked, is when we truly begin to see how much Pestilence loves Sara and how much their relationship is changing them. Pestilence doesn’t really enjoy killing humans and Sara starts to wonder if humanity is truly worth being saved. It’s after a brutal decision from Pestilence that Sara decides to leave him and join her species.
The book ends with Sara realizing that Pestilence had already abandoned his prior beliefs even though he thought he lost her forever.
This is a cruel and violent book that not all of you are going to endure reading due to its violent scenes but I think it’s also beautiful because we get to see Pestilence’s evolution. His struggle between his duty and purpose but also his understanding of human emotions and how he’s experiencing them with a human.
Have you read this book? If you did, tell me all about it (good or bad)
– The first time Pestilence tries human food
– The events at Ruth and Rob’s house until their passing
– Sara realizing the disease is receding
Oh no, I’m not letting you die. Too quick. Suffering is made for the living. And oh, how I will make you suffer.”
“What are you doing?” I’m embarrassed at how alarmed my voice sounds. “Eating.” “So … you like it?” I probe. “Do you want a formal apology?” Pestilence asks me. “Would you like for me to admit I was wrong?” I’d like for you to not enjoy my stolen pie, thankyouverymuch.
“You have already altered my mind. I wish to alter it back.”
“I am pestilence, Sara,” he says softly. “Not a man. I have a body and a voice and a sentience not for my own benefit, but for yours.”
“I cannot decide if you are a toxin or a tonic,” he says, lifting a hand to my cheek. “Only that you plague my thoughts and fill my veins.”
Sara,” he says, nearly breathless, “I feel … I feel I am losing myself to this sensation—to you.” His eyes search mine. “Is this … is this love?”
“Love is supposed to bring out the best parts of you,” I continue, reminding him of our talk shortly after Ruth and Rob passed. “Not the worst,” I add quietly.
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