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War by Laura Thalassa

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🌻 Pestilence (The Four Horsemen, #1) – ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Content/Trigger Warnings: Trauma/PTSD, war themes, graphic violence, death, loss of a loved one, grief, decapitation, talk of rape/attempted rape, sexual assault, assault, animal cruelty/death of animals, loss/death of a child, and much more!

“Miriam Elmahdy’s Guide to Staying the Fuck Alive: (1) Bend the rules—but don’t break them. (2) Stick to the truth. (3) Avoid notice. (4) Listen to your instincts. (5) Be brave.”

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.

Miriam Elmahdy has suffered enough tragedy, enough trauma in her life. Each day is a game of survival and scavenging for anything that is bound to help keep her safe. It also helps to have five rules to make sure you stay safe and make it through the day. Until War descend upon her village and suddenly she becomes his main target. Now she’s thrown into a strange whirlwind of life at War’s camp and he’s suddenly claiming she’s his wife. Now thrown into a new game of survival, how will Miriam pull through all of this blood shed? And more importantly, can War find peace and will love prevail from all the bones and ruin?

Dearest reader, I truly thought I was going to fall in love with this book. It’s with a heavy heart that I have to say I have never been more disappointed, more horrified, more furious than I have with any other romance book. Between my dearest friend (who buddy read this book with me) and myself, I definitely appreciate and liked this book more than her. However, my heart is so heavy because I truly wanted to love this book more than Pestilence.

“Oh man, step one is some asshole claiming you’re his wife, and step two, shit suddenly gets real.”

Year 13 of the Horsemen. After Pestilence fell at the hands of love, War has descended upon the Earth and is here to deliver judgment. His course is set of Jerusalem, New Palestine and that’s where he encounters Miriam. Miriam has lost everyone and everything she cares most about. Now on the day she decides to go out to scavenge for materials and parts, she will face a bigger challenge than she’s ever has to before. Facing off with War, Miriam quickly realizes she’s in over her head and now she’s been taken prisoner. Before long, War is claiming she is his wife and is desperately trying to court her. Only Miriam is having none of that. Miriam does anything she can to say the lives of innocence, but she’s just one person trying to stop the chaos War delivers to mankind.

Once again, it was incredibly easy to fall in love with War. I stated this in Pestilence, but I will stated it again here. If you go into this book knowing who War is, what his purpose is, and know that he has only ever experienced the worst desires of humankind’s hearts then you’ll have no trouble at all falling in love with War. He’s a tall, rippling muscular, olive skinned man with dark hair and wears dark eyeliner. What more could you want?! Oh yeah, he also has the power to raise the dead and I’m living for the necromancy! What I loved most about War was he had never truly experienced the kindness and love of humankind before. He had never witnessed someone who would defy all odds to save others over themselves nor has he ever experienced the softness a human heart can hold. He has only ever found hate and evil intentions in the hearts of the majority of humankind. However, in this book we see War learn about the softness of a human heart, experience love, grow a conscience, and learn what it means to lose something you hold dear to your heart. I really loved his character development and I thought he was a well developed part of this book.

I briefly mentioned necromancy and I have to take a pause to elaborate on why I loved this element so much! One, necromancy is such an underrated power, in my opinion. It’s not often shown in books and I have a little appreciation of necromancy because it’s one of my spouse’s favorite powers. And secondly, I went into this book expecting everything that comes with war. I knew there was going to be graphic content, there would be death and loss, and I knew there was going to be a lot happening. What I wasn’t expecting was necromancy and how the power of necromancy comes into play in this book! I loved that twist and is was one of the most pleasant surprises I encountered in this book.

Also, as a little side tangent, this is a little appreciation that we get some information on Pestilence in this book as well as another cameo of my favorite boy, Thanatos (otherwise known as the horseman, Death). All the blessings and if you can’t picture Thanatos being a sassy, no nonsense kind of guy then I don’t know what you’re doing!

“No,” I say, my eyes meeting his in the near-darkness. “Not love itself.” Everything I’ve ever loved I’ve lost. There’s no beauty in that. “It’s the power of love that I find beautiful.” It can change so many things—For better, or worse.”

Even with a lot of the good and world development this book, I still had issues with this book. In fact, I had a lot more issues with this book than I did with Pestilence. And please, even though I stated the content and trigger warnings at the beginning of this review, please use caution with this book. There is a lot of graphic content and a lot of scenes that had affected my mental health while reading this book. So please make sure you practice self-care before, during, and after reading this and be in the right head space.

The first thing I feel like I have to address is the animal cruelty/death of animals. While I won’t go into too much detail, there is a lot of talk and descriptions of aviaries being set on fire, birds being harmed, and other depictions. As someone who loves birds, is very sentimental about birds, does bird watching, and really appreciates birds and what they stand for, this was content that I didn’t want to read about. I got really emotional, I cried a few times, I had immense anxiety reading about these parts, and it was soul shattering. I never want to read this kind of content ever again.

Now that we’ve cleared that out of the way, Miriam became my first true issue with this book. Before you break out pitch forks and torches, let me explain why she became a problem character. For the first half of this book, I never really had an issue with her actions or how she was treating certain situations. Until the three-quarter mark of this book, The minute she stole Deimos, I knew the way I was going to view Miriam was going to change. Then shortly after that moment, Miriam decided to take War’s own sword and try to kill him, with his own weapon, while he was sleeping, unarmed. That was the moment I started reevaluating my view of Miriam and everything thing she had done up to this point. I say this all the time, but I will say it again; I will never, ever support characters who try to do harm to another character who is unarmed or they’re not in a situation that is life threatening. This scene was completely unacceptable and honestly, I wish Miriam’s “punishment” had been more extreme. And I say that due to the fact that War has literally done everything for Miriam. From coming to her rescue, to sparing her life multiple times, to giving her the aviaries, all the way to preventing her from dying; Miriam took all of it for granted. She used sex as a weapon to have pull and sway over War, she used love itself as a weapon to make War go against his purpose/very nature and took it away from him as a form of punishment if he didn’t do as she asked, she undermined War and his men every chance she got, she disobeyed War when he was trying to protect her from getting hurt, and there were plenty more moments than that throughout this entire book. The entire three-quarters of this book is literally Miriam doing all of this or complaining how she shouldn’t care about a horseman of the apocalypse. It was a lot to push through.

My second biggest issue of this book was the length of the book itself. As I mentioned, three-quarters was mostly the same thing happening over and over again. Miriam doing anything and everything to undermine War. However, that’s not the only issue. It takes half of the book before we even see any intimate, sexual action between War and the main heroine. There wasn’t even any sexual tension built that would encourage the reader to continue reading. You could tell there was sexual tension between the main characters, but for the first half of this book it was block after block of nothing happening. Also, the first three-quarters of this mostly camp life or War and his men rushing off to destroy another city. It become really repetitive and aside from isolated incidents that happen in certain locations, it’s the same pattern of camp life, destroy a city, camp life, travel to the next city. It’s very repetitive. We don’t actually see a distinct change in everything until a little bit past the three-quarter mark which introduces a whole new issue.

My last and final issue I had with this book is a spoiler so I will keep this as spoiler free as possible. This issue basically consists of a trope that immensely bothers me especially when it’s thrown into the end of a book. More specifically, it felt like this trope was thrown near the end of the book to help push the story forward and help the wrap up of this book. I honestly felt like this could have been thrown in sooner which could have helped with the length of this book, but it wasn’t and it was really hard to try and push through it. Even more so due to the scene that is very triggering and I will state this now for anyone who it might trigger or effect, that triggering scene consists the death/loss of a child. So beware of that! I’m very thankful I was warned about that scene because even though I knew about it going in, it made me sick to my stomach and it was incredibly hard to finish the end of this book because of that scene. I never want to read that kind of situation again. Ever.

“Loss is a wound that never heals. Never never never. It scabs over, and for a time you can almost forget it’s there, but then something—a smell, a sound, a memory—will split that wound right open, and you’ll be reminded again that you’re not whole. That you’ll never fully be whole again.”

Overall, I did enjoy this book to a certain extent and this was the hardest three stars I ever gave. I truly wanted to love this book more than the first book in this series. However, there was a lot of content that became very problematic for me and sadly, this didn’t even uphold the four stars that I wanted to give. And in all honesty, I’m not sure if I want to finish this series because of the sour taste this book left in my mouth. I really want to read the next two books especially because Death is so far my favorite out of all the horsemen, but I’m really unsure at the moment. If you do find yourself getting into this series, definitely be aware of all the content and trigger warnings, and please, be in the right head space while reading these books.

Buddy read with Kayla from Books and Blends | Her Review ❤️

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Pestilence (The Four Horseman, #1) Laura Thalassa

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Content/Trigger Warnings: Death/murder, graphic death/violence, talk of rape, scenes of physical abuse/torture, scene of severe animal abuse/cruelty, trauma/PTSD, sexual scenes, manipulation

“Love is the greatest gift we can give or receive”

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.

Sara Burns is ready to give up everything she’s every had in life if it means putting an end to Pestilence. With her shotgun loaded, she’s prepared to take on the horseman alone… to bad no one every told her the angelic horseman can’t be killed. Now she’s his prisoner and he’s prepared to make her suffer for everything she’s done to him. But when you spend so much time with someone, things can change and it’s not just Sara who’s changing, but her feelings are as well. Who knew falling in love with a horseman of the apocalypse would be so hard, but so delicious?

Friends, I have no idea why I waited so long to read this book! It was so incredibly good and I was a puddle for this book. Even if I wanted to read something else, I don’t think I would have been able to pull myself from this book. I’m ready for book two already!

Pestilence takes place in five years of The Four Horsemen of the apocalypse raining holy terror upon the Earth. The first horseman up to wreak havoc is Pestilence. Disease, infection, and plague ripple to the mortals who fall in his path. Sara Burns is your average person except she’s the unlucky firefighter who drew her burnt match to face down Pestilence and stop his reign of terror. She also becomes the unlucky soul to be the first captive by the first horseman, as punishment for her showing no mercy to an angelic devil. But as the unlikely pair continue their travels, they both slowly begin to change one another and love and mercy soon becomes a string that keeps them together.

As I read this book, it was incredibly easy to fall in love with Pestilence and what he was meant to do. Sure, he was mean, at times cruel, and had a job to end humankind by spreading plague and disease, but the reality was he has only seen the horrible, unimaginable actions of mortals. He has never known love, compassion, he didn’t know about beauty inside a human’s soul. Pestilence was slowly learning many things that he never once knew about humankind and I can appreciate that throughout this book he was slowly learning and evolving. But honestly, if you go in expecting anything less than Pestilence learning about mortals and becoming more in touch with his humanity… you probably will hate his character with a burning fire of rage. I really loved his character development and even after the first few times, I knew he was a good man even if he had to do this horrible job.

However, our heroine was a completely different story for me. At first, I thought she was just doing what anyone would do if they were taken prisoner. The reality was at 60% of the way through this book she just became the most irritating heroine I have read about. She ends up falling in love with Pestilence, Pestilence for who he is, but at this point where she still can’t understand why Pestilence is still spreading his plague and standing by his mission to end humankind. This is where all my issues start happening and why I ended up giving this book four stars.

“Getting angry at one of the horsemen of the apocalypse for bringing about the end of man is like getting angry at ice for being cold.”

As the reader, we know who and what Pestilence is from the very beginning and so does our main heroine. So my biggest issue was Sara constantly trying to use her love as a way to change Pestilence into the kind of man that she wanted him to be. From my reading standpoint, she was very manipulative with how she would use her love for him and his love for her against him to mold him into a “better man.” Yes, it sucks that he was sent to Earth to destroy humankind, but you don’t use love as a weapon to change someone or even force someone to change. She knew he was from the beginning and she should have been a little more open with loving him. Not to mention, she also fights Pestilence every step of the way in this book. Even when she’s in love with him, she still continues to inflict a great deal of pain to Pestilence. For example, she would find ways to cheapen love that was blooming between them and referred to it as just being “lust.” There were even times in this book where she devalued his feelings and make him feel horrible because they’re suppose to be “enemies.” All of it got old and irritating really fast.

Which brings me to another point. I think a lot of readers will be annoyed with Pestilence because it seems like he gives his love too easily. Not to mention, he was constantly sharing his feelings and thoughts with Sara. However, he is a virgin when he is with Sara and has never known the full extent of what love truly is or feels like until Sara came into his life. So he gives his love very easily, he is overly affectionate, overprotective of her, and wants all of Sara’s attention. And as someone who once had a dating life, this is very accurate of some of the partners I had in the past. I think this can be a hate it or love it type of situation. It personally didn’t bother me, but it might be bothersome for other readers.

“We only get so many minutes alive,” I say. “When you find someone worth spending that time with, you don’t want to share those minutes with anyone else.”

Overall, I truly enjoyed this book. I loved the world building and I loved Pestilence’s character development. It almost felt like I was in the world as I was reading it. However, I definitely think if Sara’s character had developed better, made better choices, and didn’t act so toxic at times, I think I would have given this book five stars. The main heroine was almost the reason why I didn’t want to finish this book because she’s so repetitive, so manipulative, almost borderline mentally abusing the love interest, and in all honesty, Pestilence deserved a better partner to love. I am, however, incredibly excited to read the next book, War. I’m ready, super excited, and I can’t wait to see what book two has in store for us!

Buddy read with Kayla from Books and Blends | Her Review! ❤️

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