Pestilence by Laura Thalassa
Read July 21-24, 2020
So, I’m not quite sure how I feel about this one. I didn’t love it, but I also didn’t hate it, either. It’s also been weirdly on my mind since I finished it, enough so that it’s compelling me to write a review a month later. So props to it, it’s stuck in my brain.
Pestilence is a biblical apocalyptic romance novel, set during the reign of the four horsemen. Pestilence, shown on the cover, arrives with his brothers and begins spreading, well, pestilence. And I gotta tell ya, I need to point out its inaccuracies right away: In the book everyone is taking care to avoid getting sick. Obviously now we have a real life example to show that hey no, people are stupid. (I kid – it’s not a negative to the book at all. If anything, the writer is just trying to portray ideal humans, which I respect.)
The plot of the book starts when Sara, the main character, tries to kill him to save humanity, fully expecting to die in the process. Only she doesn’t and she doesn’t. Pestilence, instead of killing her, takes her prisoner and boom, romance.
Again, I kid. One thing I did like about this was how long it took for the romance to develop. It was slow, it wasn’t ‘I know you hate me but I’ma jump your bones anyways’ or anything like that. Honestly though I think it should have been slower. Like across several books. There is the whole moral ‘he’s committing genocide’ thing which would usually be a deal breaker, but apparently the romance happened because ‘he felt bad about it’. I mean, I could see it happening eventually, but I feel like it needed a lot more nuance.
And that’s my main issue with this book, was this plot line where Sara was trying to convince him to stop killing humanity and he wouldn’t because reasons. I’ll get to this more later, as it culminates at the end of the book in a way I really didn’t care for.
But for overall plot, this book was entertaining enough if you focused on the romance, but a bit slow otherwise as far as ‘progression of the apocalypse’ goes. It felt a bit stagnant at times, broken apart only by romance scenes. I mean I get this is the point of the book – the romance – so I’m not judging too harshly here, but I guess with this huge premise set up to put the romance in, I wanted a bit more depth.
Characters: I rather liked Sara, for the most part. I do think she let her guard down around Pestilence too quickly though. Like I said I feel like the romance should have taken longer to develop, especially with the premise. Pestilence was alright. He was the stereotypical ‘beautiful born yesterday man meat’. He wasn’t a bad character per say, he just didn’t have too much to him.
So with the above, my overall enjoyment of this book was about a three stars. Like I enjoyed it, didn’t love it, didn’t hate it. It was very middle of the road for me.
Until the ending, which is what dropped the book down in rating for me.
As mentioned above, spoilers.
The ending was very anti-climatic. I mentioned earlier the plot line where Sara was trying to convince Pestilence to stop killing humanity. Well, that was true – she was constantly trying to get him to stop (but also banging him so really, her words held no sway for a while).
The main reason he wouldn’t from what he said was that he was divinely ordained to do it, or whatever his words were. Long story short it was ‘I cannot stop as it is divine will’. Which to me, implied something bad would happen if he disobeyed. The book repeated this reasoning over and over and over again, and created a sense of unease, because let’s be real this is a romance and I knew eventually he’d drop it, and with this foreboding, I felt like something big was gonna go down. As the book progressed, he did admit feeling bad about killing humanity but that was all the remorse he ever showed.
Here’s the kicker: Eventually, Sara was like ‘eff it, he’s really not gonna stop’ and tries to leave him, because she, after 300-odd pages, realizes she’s not gonna change him. He follows her and basically locks her up so she stops running away. I had to stop and think about this section for a bit, because bam, sudden abusive plot line out of nowhere. Like what?
So Sara just broods in her captivity for a few chapters and eventually Pestilence lets her out because he’s still not happy, because she’s still mad at him for killing humanity (shocker). And then he’s like ‘I’ve decided to stop killing humanity, don’t worry’.
And that’s it. No divine retribution. No big biblical climax because one of the four horsemen decided to just stop his mission. No interference. No consequences to Pestilence for stopping killing humanity. Nothing.
And then they live happily ever after for ten years until the hook for book two shows up.
If he could have stopped this whole time with no consequence, why didn’t Sara call him out on that? She basically is like ‘sweet’ and just rolls with it. She doesn’t strike me as a dumb character, nor is she written like one. But for some reason, she doesn’t seem to notice or care that there was seemingly nothing stopping him from not killing people earlier. That this ‘divine mission’ was just him being stubborn, and not the threat of a righteous strike-down, as heavily hinted in the book earlier.
It just left a sour taste in my mouth, is all.
And it dropped my enjoyment of this book from ‘I liked it’ to ‘I didn’t quite like it’. Still didn’t hate it, mind you. But that ending was like a wet paper bag with an old sandwich in it.