“Amazing inventions, colossal failures, and countless wars. We watched it behind the scenes. Watched the monkeys from beyond the glass. We were intrigued, Hell was amused, and Heaven was losing patience.
Finally, the monkeys threw too much shit on the windows. They sparked a third World War, one that the Big Boss upstairs knew would obliterate the world.
So he sent us instead. We were much more effective. We were much more eager.” – Avery, The Rider Pestilence
It’s all great fun, clearing the world’s population for the “Next Coming”. But when the Coming doesn’t Come, what are the Four Horsemen to do with the rest of their human-ish lives? Stuck in the hell of their own creation, life decays to warding off the Plagued, those left over from Avery’s clever little specialty, and the Soulless, those left after trading their souls to the devil to live (and how is that working out for you?) This whole “life as a nearly-full-human is a pain in the proverbial backside. Especially when Simon’s specialty dried up all the water and poisoned all the food. Sucks when you got stuck the aforementioned human-ish body when you were dropped onto an unsuspecting world to do your worst. And then there are the demons.
After killing every human on the planet– or so we thought– our job became kill the demons and the Soulless. The Second Coming didn’t belong to those power-hungry freeloaders.
They showed up out of the blue within the first week, right around the time Simon started starving people. They had probably showed up earlier, but I didn’t think they would be an issue. It wasn’t like we had to worry about Lucifer or Azazel or Abbadon. From what the Bosses Upstairs told us, Hell’s Biggest Badasses were constantly at war.
OK, so that whole “The Second Coming apparently isn’t coming” thing is a total downer. As Avery puts it, “Simon will probably die of starvation, Kade will burn himself out, and Logan will be the last man on earth before he commits suicide.” Kade, the specialist in all things warrior, so he amuses himself with killing off the leftovers for fun. Logan? Well, he really didn’t do all that much. Just carried out his orders. But he really, truly, hated his job. Logan’s job, you see, required the personal touch – not simply throwing out plagues and rotting food. He saw them all. Touched them all. Unlike his brothers, who got a huge kick out of playing with their toys, killing from a distance. Well, until it was over, and there was no flourish of trumpets, white carriages from the sky and blessed lights.
Well. That sucked.
What didn’t suck? There were actual living, breathing people still alive on earth. Not many, and mostly starving, but they were there. And Avery would be damned (har har) if he allowed the demons to take their souls. That whole ‘guilt’ thing is hard on the soul – especially if you are the one responsible for the death of a whole world. Of course, it could have been the little boy eating his parents alive that really twisted the knife. So, when seven people in a beat-up old school bus appear one day, survivors of the Tribulations, Avery is thrilled. If the assholes Upstairs couldn’t be bothered with a Second Coming, maybe the Horsemen might pick up the slack?
“Running like this makes me feel like an animal. We’re stuck in a world of monsters we can barely fight, and can only kill if we’re extremely lucky. If we don’t stop and find a place to restart and remember what we are, then we’re no better than the creatures trying to eat us.”
Path of the Horseman is a truly amazing book. This is, and yet isn’t, a dystopian book. It is more than that. It brings up questions of redemption and hope, of horrors and fresh beginnings. Of what it is like to know that you are the last few on the face of the earth, and only those who destroyed the world may be able to save you. It is a thoughtful book – it took me quite a while to read it, as I kept putting it down and actually taking time to think about what I had read. It wasn’t a book, like so many, that I devour in one gulp. Instead, I truly considered everything – not only about the book itself, but what it meant to me, as a human. It was marvelous.
I received Path of the Horseman from the publisher in exchange for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own. I highly encourage you to pick it up if you are in the market for a serious, thoughtful book filled with ideas that are incredibly pertinent to today.