This month’s Spotlight Week features FAMINE: BOOK ONE OF THE APOCALYPTICS by author Monica Enderle Pierce.
410 Pages, Paperback
Genre: Adult Historical Fantasy
Published on March 11, 2014 by Stalking Fiction
Caught in maelstrom of black feathers and beady eyes, Bartholomew tugged down his top hat and turned up his coat collar to a murder of crows’ sharp talons and beaks.
The fate of every soul rests upon his shoulders. His fate rests in the hands of a troubled, young girl
It’s 1895 — the cusp of the Victorian and Edwardian eras — and Bartholomew Pelletier is a gentleman and a warrior. For fifteen centuries he’s endured the depraved appetite of Famine — one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse — as she’s consumed his strength and sought to unite with her fellow Horsemen. But now Bartholomew’s chance to imprison her has appeared…in the form of his young ward Matilde.
Chosen to wield the immeasurable power of the Catcher — the one entity that can capture the escaped Horsemen — Matilde is a distrustful child from an abusive and impoverished home. She must be hidden from Famine as she grows strong, learns to fight, and reaches adulthood. But Bartholomew faces a terrible act: For Matilde to become the immortal Catcher, he must gain her trust, and then he must end her life.
By any means necessary, Bartholomew intends to conquer this enemy, but is he willing to sacrifice the one person he loves in order to save mankind?
FAMINE is the first novel in a four-book, historical fantasy series. It contains graphic violence, strong language, and sexual content and is intended for mature readers.
One of the things I look for when reading a historical fantasy novel is the author’s ability to describe the historical period accurately and organically. Author Monica Enderle Pierce does this artfully in FAMINE: BOOK ONE OF THE APOCALYPTICS. She does a great job of weaving in details about late Victorian/early culture into the story’s plotline. Descriptions of the era’s architecture, clothing and technology never overpower the narrative, but instead serve to enhance the reader’s experience of the scenes.
More than the setting however, what really drew me into the story were the characters. The main character, Bartholomew Pelletier, is 15 centuries old. Originally a Roman Centurion, Bartholomew was unwittingly drawn into an age-old battle between the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, who are meant to destroy the world, and the Catcher, the one being who can stop them. As a boy, he was bound to serve Famine, one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse. Years later, he was recruited by the Catcher to help in her cause. Famine is a cruel mistress, and after enduring centuries of suffering under her hands, Bartholomew has finally found his salvation in the hands of an eight-year old girl. Matilde is destined to become the next Catcher, and it is Bartholomew’s task to prepare her for the enormous task of taking down the four horsemen. Bartholomew could easily end his centuries of suffering by releasing the Catcher into Matilde. But he would never sacrifice a child, “no matter how many souls hung in the balance.” This is what makes him an intriguing and sympathetic protagonist.
One of the things I enjoyed about the book was witnessing Bartholomew and Matilde’s relationship develop and change through the years. The author does a good job of staying true to Matilde’s voice even as she grows from a mistrustful eight-year old child into a capable, yet sometimes petulant teenager. It was satisfying to see how the burdensome task of training Matilde and protecting her from Famine’s forces, transformed Bartholomew. His broken, exhausted heart had finally begun to feel again thanks to Matilde.
Since the story is meant for mature readers, the book does contain sex and violence. There were some scenes that I found cringe-worthy, like when Famine would flay pieces of Bartholomew’s arm and eat it (which is only possible because Bartholomew is immortal and heals rapidly). Aside from a taste for flesh, Famine can also create cadavers, which are more terrifying than zombies because they are not only dead (and therefore almost invincible), they are also capable of independent thought and action.
Despite the more graphic elements of the story however, I enjoyed reading FAMINE. I really love how the author has created this bold concept of the four horsemen of the apocalypse, and built a cast of intriguing characters around it. The book is a wild-ride and readers of historical fantasy books will surely enjoy it.
Tune in this Wednesday as we train the spotlight on FAMINE’s author – Monica Enderle Pierce.
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