by Laura Thalassa
Book 4 in the Four Horsemen series
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.
He’s known by many names: Thanatos. Horseman. God’s last angel. And then, of course, there's the one I’m all too familiar with—
The day Death comes to Lazarus Gaumond’s town and kills everyone in one fell swoop, the last thing he expects to see is a woman left alive and standing. But Lazarus has her own extraordinary gift: she cannot be killed—not by humans, not by the elements, not by Death himself.
She is the one soul Death doesn’t recognize. The one soul he cannot pry free from her flesh. Nor can he ignore the unsettling desire he has for her. Take her. He wants to, desperately. And the longer she tries to stop him from his killing spree, the stronger the desire becomes.
When Lazarus crosses paths with the three other horsemen, an unthinkable situation leads to a terrible deal: seduce Death, save the world. A hopeless task, made all the worse by the bad blood between her and Thanatos. But Death’s attraction to her is undeniable, and try though she might, Lazarus cannot stay away from that ancient, beautiful being and his dark embrace.
The end is here. Humankind is set to perish, and not even the horsemen can stop Death from fulfilling his final task.
Only Lazarus can.
Death by Laura Thalassa is the fourth and final book in her Four Horsemen series, and centers around Thanatos (aka, Angel of Death), who has picked up where his brothers failed on killing the worlds population, and Lazarus, a young woman who can't die. When Death comes to Lazarus's hometown, she finds herself surrounded by bodies. Again. For some unknown reason, Lazarus' many brushes with death don't stick. She didn't die when her parents were killed by Pestilences plague years ago, when she was robbed, when she fell and broke her neck - or now, when Death rides through and kills her adoptive family. Lazarus knows she is the only one who can get close enough to Death to end it. Every time they cross paths, Death and Lazarus fight - but they can't help the undeniable attraction to each other. When Lazarus comes across the other three horsemen, they give her an unimaginable, and impossible task: seduce Death. Make him fall for her, and perhaps he will see reason like they did when they met their soulmates. But can Death put aside his purpose for his mate?
Well, that was unexpected! Well, not totally. It's a romance - I was expecting a happily ever after of sorts - but the little we see of Death in the third book, I didn't expect to get a book quite like this. Without spoiling, I will say this is a well written conclusion to the Four Horsemen series. It flowed nicely, it wasn't boring, and our main characters had interesting arcs. My only true issue with the book was ------------spoiler------------> to me, it wasn't clear why Death chooses to end the world that day, other than one page he was thinking how much he loved Lazarus, than suddenly, oh gotta kill everyone. I was left confused. <-----------------------. But that's it really. I loved the enemies to lovers storyline. And truly, despite Death being enthralled with Lazarus, Lazarus made it her personal mission for a year to destroy him, and their confrontations were fun. I loved the romance, and the sex was the hottest in the series. But what truly made this story great was the characters. Thanatos (Death) ended up being the absolute opposite of what I went into it thinking. He ended up being a total romantic. I mean, I was swooning with the things he says ... and for a virgin angel, he sure does have dirty talk down to a tee. Aside from the romance, his character was truly interesting to read. I loved his journey, and constant toeing the line between life and death. And I loved Lazarus too. A strong willed woman who despite being knocked down over and over, chooses to try to save humanity. I also love that "God's" purpose for unleashing the horsemen is open to interpretation ... and what God is is as well. No religion. Is it God or the universe. Whatever it is, it's a she, which is cool. As for the why - it could be that God thought the world needed purged. Too many people, the planet being destroyed by humans ... which Death says is the case. To bring the planet back to the state it was in before destructive humans. But while I think that may be part of it, my personal opinion is that God wanted to release these Angels from their one-dimensional purposes. And what better way to learn about the good parts of being a mortal, than falling in love? Having a family? A life? But ultimately, I loved Laura's views on life and death being lovers. Forever intertwined. To live, one day you die. Everyone deserves to die and the after part is a new beginning.
Before I end this, I need to give credit to Laura Thalassa for taking the opportunity to kind of poke fun at her own characters. All the jokes about Pestilence's new name being Victor was hilarious.
That ending? The epilogue that says so much with so little? I fucking loved it. It was a beautiful, full circle ending. I was worried that because Death is the last book in the series, it was going to be rushed, and just a rehashing of the other horsemen's stories. And while there are similarities (ie the travelling on horse across the land, and the death), I think Death is the best one of the series - and a great, fitting conclusion to the Four Horsemen.
All the times Lazarus tries to stop death. But especially when she holds him captive, and he humors her until she falls asleep
Famine, War and Victor cutting Lazarus loose
Famine goading Death (I cackled about the tying up their woman comment being all their kink)
Pestilence telling Lazarus to take her son to a doctor because he is very sick, and comforting her when she was panicking
Famine saving Ben.
Famine entertaining Ben with flowers
Lazarus getting Death to try bread and wine
Um, that BJ though ...
And their first time ... and ALL THE TIMES THAT FOLLOW
Lazarus taking an arrow for Death
Thanatos saving Lazarus in that EPIC way against the highway men
The failed joked during sex
Thanatos telling Lazarus he loves her
"You'll take it" and "Well, we both know you won't die from it" are officially lines I never thought would be hot until now
Thanatos and Lazarus making soul break together
Lazarus choosing to go back to earth as long as Thanatos stays with her
Thanatos with Ben
Lazarus: “You took everyone from me.”
My voice breaks as the words slip out. I hadn’t planned on opening with this, but once I start speaking, I can’t seem to stop.
Lazarus: “My mother, my brothers, my sisters, my nieces and nephews, my neighbors, my friends. They’re all gone.”
The aching loneliness I’ve carried with me sweeps in. Grief is awful enough on its own, but now I also have to deal with this solitude I never asked for. Death stares at me as rain pelts the two of us.
Thanatos: “That is what I do, kismet,”
he says, his voice gentling.
Thanatos: “I kill.” Lazarus: “Is mighty Death running from me?”
I call out, openly taunting him. His footfalls pause.
Lazarus: “Go ahead then, leave. I’ll simply hunt you down again. And when I find you, I will stop you.”
He laughs, turning around once more.
Thanatos: “I am one of the few things that cannot be stopped, Lazarus. Nevertheless, I look forward to seeing you try.” Lazarus: “Hello again, Death. Did you miss me?” Lazarus: “Keep your distance,”
Thanatos: “Do you really think your bow scares me?”
Lazarus: “I will shoot.”
Thanatos: “Ah, so it’s you who is scared.” Thanatos: “All of creation falls to me, kismet. Kings and beggars, babies and warriors. Whales and flies, redwoods and dandelions. It all ends. And when it does, I am there to claim it. You will not stop me today, or tomorrow—you will not stop me ever. But—despite all sense, I think I do enjoy watching you try.”
He releases my jaw then. I stumble back as he moves away from me.
Thanatos: “The next time we meet, Lazarus, I won’t be so kind to you. But come for me all the same. I will relish our reunion.” Lazarus: “If you move, I attack.”
He flashes me a sly glance, then leans to the left.
Thanatos: “I’m moving,”
Lazarus: “Don’t be childish,”
Thanatos: “I wouldn’t know how to be childish. I’ve never been a child.”
I narrow my eyes at him again. He leans right.
Thanatos: “Still moving.”
Oh, for fuck’s sake. I don’t mean to slip off to sleep. To be honest, I would’ve sworn I hadn’t fallen asleep, but suddenly I’m roused by cool fingers brushing my hair back from my ear. For a moment, I’ve forgotten the situation, and that touch is so gentle that I lean into it. A moment later, lips replace those fingers.
Thanatos: “I was so intrigued at the thought of being your captive, Laz, I almost stayed put,”
Death whispers against my ear.
Thanatos: “But I have work to do.”
I stiffen at the sound of his voice, panic flooding my veins. He’s broken free.
Thanatos: “Maybe next time, you can be my captive.” Death’s gaze unwittingly moves to my cleavage, which is more on display than usual, thanks to a well-placed slice of his knife. Thanatos stares … and stares, and it would be fucking rude except this horseman clearly has never come face-to-face with boobs.
Thanatos: “What are you doing?”
he echoes, but his voice has roughened.
Breasts are, apparently, his undoing. I grab his other hand, bringing the two of them over his head. I lean forward as I do so until The Girls are up close and personal with Thanatos.
Did I plan on distracting Death with my tits today? No.
Will I take it? Yes. Lazarus: “You cannot just kidnap me!”
Thanatos: “Says the woman who first took me captive.” My gaze returns to that strange couple on his armor. Now I do reach out and trace a finger over what I can see of the skeleton. Thanatos’s gaze drops to my finger.
Thanatos: “Death and life, caught in an eternal embrace,”
Lazarus: “They look like lovers,”
Thanatos: “They are lovers.”
His eyes find mine, and I swear they can see straight to my soul. Thanatos’s attention moves to my stolen bag. He opens it up, staring at all the knives.
Thanatos: “I’m guessing these are meant for me.”
He says it so conversationally, so unafraid. It should dissipate the strange sexual tension between us.
It doesn’t. I grab one of his forearms, pulling it behind his back, then the other, pressing his wrists together. I bind his hands together with the satchel’s leather strap, making sure to tie the knots extra tight. His body sways.
Thanatos: “I like this, kismet. This makes me think very strange, very … human thoughts about you.” He squeezes me close, and oh, I’m definitely getting some hate-fuck energy from Death. Lazarus: “What are we doing here?”
Thanatos: “This is a human dwelling, is it not? We are here to dwell.” Famine: “Are you Death’s woman?”
My eyebrows rise. Death’s woman? Hardly.
Lazarus: “I’m his prisoner.”
I glance meaningfully over my shoulder where I’m tied up.
He smirks, like the term is cute. The longer he looks at me, the bigger that smirk grows and the brighter his eyes become. This is where I get stabbed and left for dead.
Famine: “You are his woman, aren’t you?”
he says, sounding gleeful. I give him an incredulous look.
Lazarus: “If you mean his kidnap victim, then yes. Otherwise, no.”
Why are we discussing my relationship status with Death?
Famine: “Have you tried to kill him yet?”
I stare at him.
Lazarus: “What do you want with me?”
I ask. Damn Thanatos for leaving me vulnerable like this.
Famine: “Just answer the question.”
Lazarus: “Fine. Yes, I have.”
The horseman watches me carefully, the hazy light making his copper armor and caramel-colored hair glow.
Famine: “Have you actually killed him?”
Lazarus: “He can’t be killed,”
Famine: “Not permanently. But have you ended my brother’s life for a time?”
He stares too intently at me, and I find myself looking away.
I bite out. I can feel the horseman staring at me with that unnerving gaze for several long moments. I still don’t know what he wants, though my fear of him is waning the longer we chat. He takes a couple slow steps towards me, scrutinizing my situation.
Famine: “And you’re now tied up here, helpless and at my brother’s whim? You are most definitely his woman.” Lazarus: “Can’t any of you horseman have nice, normal names?”
Like Frank or Louis? I don’t think I’d be scared of a Louis.
Famine smirks again.
Famine: “I can already tell you and Pestilence are going to get along real well.”
I narrow my eyes at him.
Lazarus: “What’s that supposed to mean?”
Famine: “Oh, you’ll see.” Famine: “You can relax, that’s not your boyfriend.”
Lazarus: “Death is not my boyfriend,”
I snap as rain begins to drip through the many holes in the roof. The Reaper flashes me that damn smirk.
Famine: “Sure, tootsie.” Famine: “Just when I was starting to like humans, I have to go and meet you.”
Lazarus: “The feeling is fucking mutual.” Famine: “War, Pestilence—”
Famine: “I don’t care about your fuckwit name. Famine: “Tying your girl up was a nice touch, Thanatos,”
Famine says, leaning his weight into his scythe.
Famine: “But I hope you don’t think you’re special. That’s the one kink we’ve all done.”
Famine smiles slyly at his brother as I skirt around them, moving slow enough to not draw attention to myself.
Famine: “And I must say, hypocrisy looks great on you.” He gets up and, muttering something under his breath about insufferable humans, stalks away.
War: “Don’t mind him. He’s starting to care for humanity despite himself, and he’s pissy about it.” Lazarus: “How will seducing Death help anything?”
War smirks at me, a humorous gleam in his eyes.
War: “What do you think has stopped each one of us from destroying your world?”
My gaze moves to Famine, who’s pouring himself a cup of coffee that someone brewed, glaring at the cup the entire time. Hard to believe anyone would give that asshole the time of day for anything, let alone love. Immediately, I feel guilty for having the thought, considering he just saved my son—albeit, reluctantly. My attention returns to War.
Lazarus: “You can’t be serious.”
This is actually their plan? They’re placing the fate of their families and the world at large in my hands—or rather, certain other parts of my anatomy?
Famine: “Come now, tootsie, don’t tell me you doubt your ability to fuck a man into seeing reason.” As Famine walks off with Ben, I hear him say,
Famine: “I can make you more flowers, but if you shit on me, deal’s off.”
Pestilence snaps after him.
Famine: “Relax, Grandpa. Ben’s going to wait until he’s on your horse before he does anything funny.” Death: “I’ve searched for you for a very long time. I don’t intend to let you go.” Death: “I want to see the expression your face makes when it’s happy. I don’t know why, but I do. I have seen you angry and hateful and disappointed and sad—so sad—Lazarus. I want to see what stokes the fire in that soul of yours and lights you up from within.” Lazarus: “Was having a dead man open the door necessary?”
Death: “It was a woman.” Death: "I seek to cause no one pain. I am the end of it, kismet.” Death: “Do you really think I have searched for you this long to be scared off by a few ‘annoying little things’? I was driven mad looking for you. I doubt I’ll be driven mad savoring you.” Death: “I hate that I am drawn to you,”
Now I lower my glass. When he sees my shock, Thanatos says,
Thanatos: “Surely that can’t come as any surprise to you?”
It’s always going to surprise me that this … this … this monstrous angel is interested in me, the girl who never outgrew her hometown and never made much of a mark.
Thanatos: “I was better off before I met you. There were few thoughts in my head then besides traveling and vanquishing. I spent no time musing on your eye color, or the savage expression you wear when you’re determined. I never replayed the way your body moved when you fought.” Before he can do anything at all, I sit down in his lap. I hear Thanatos’s sharp inhale, but then his hands fall on my hips.
Thanatos: “If you try to stab me—”
Lazarus: “With what, the butter knife?”
I say teasingly. More serious, I add,
Lazarus: “I’ve left that behind, Thanatos.”
His fingers press into my skin at the sound of his name. I hold up the bread, a line of oil sliding down its flaky crust.
Lazarus: “I want you to try this.”
Thanatos: “Perhaps I would prefer a good stabbing.” Lazarus: “It’s still rude to stare,”
Thanatos: “I still don’t care,”
I turn to face him a little better.
Lazarus: “What are you thinking of when you stare at me?”
Thanatos: “That I could look at you for a thousand years and never get bored,” Thanatos: “Do not tell me we could’ve been doing this the whole time I chased you,”
Lazarus: “We’ll never know,” Thanatos: “I think you’ll find that any experience I lack in this I will happily make up for with enthusiasm.” Thanatos: “So then I must watch you die and do nothing?”
he says. He sounds almost angry.
Lazarus: “I thought … that was … your kink,” Thanatos: “I have given you so much pain, kismet. Let me give you pleasure to match.” Lazarus: “You have to move around,”
I beg him.
Thanatos: “I’ll do what I want, kismet,”
he murmurs against my flesh.
Thanatos: “And you’ll endure it.”
And then he’s back to devouring me.
Filthy, bossy man. I’d hold it against him if it wasn’t my pleasure he was demanding. Thanatos: “Must I bring down the rain and lightning or draw the roots and the dead up from the ground? Or make the earth quake and buildings fall to remind you who I am? I set my sights on you a year ago, but I haven’t fully taken you—not yet. So lay back, kismet, and let me show you what it means to be mine.” Thanatos: “Tell me that was the most amazing experience you have ever felt—because it was the most amazing thing I ever have.” I glance up at the sky.
Lazarus: “You can let up with the rain.”
Thanatos: “Must I? I do so like the way your clothing molds to your skin, kismet.”
The corner of his mouth curves up.
Thanatos: “You’re only upset because I have armor on and you cannot enjoy the same sight.” Thanatos: "I grimly do my job, but I have never gotten joy from taking a life.”
Lazarus: “Is there joy in what you do?”
I ask after a moment. He’s quiet again.
Thanatos: “Yes. After I release them. When a soul sees what lies beyond, when they truly remember what they are and have been this entire time—that moment is joy.” Thanatos: “Life and death are lovers, kismet. We are lovers. It has always been this way. It will always be this way.” Shane: “Now don’t be rude. Introduce yourself.”
Well, now that I know that manners mean so much to him … I spit at his face. Shane: “I’ll deal with you in a moment,”
he says, pointing his blade at me.
Lazarus: “You won’t though,”
I say as the horseman lowers himself to the earth several yards behind Shane.
Lazarus: “Death will kill you, and then, if you’re particularly unlucky, he’ll force your corpse to serve me.”
Thanatos lands, standing amongst the carnage like a true angel of the apocalypse. His black wings fold behind him. I know Death’s aware of me, but his wrathful eyes are focused on Shane. He walks towards the man just as Shane turns around. He nearly loses his footing when he catches sight of the horseman.
Thanatos: “Lazarus is right. You will die, and then you will serve my mate." Lazarus: “They didn’t deserve to die.”
Thanatos: “Kismet, everyone deserves to die—even that abominable man I cut down only minutes ago.”
He kneels across from me and reaches out, caressing the skin that he just so recently healed.
Thanatos: “To live is to die. That was the agreement you made when you came into this world. You cannot have one without the other.”
Thanatos: “All your life, all your suffering, all your loss—it was all for this.”
He gestures to the dead around us, his wings spreading wide.
Thanatos: “You all have been running towards me your entire life.” Thanatos: “What is it like, taking souls?”
I ask, turning the subject away from my family. Death gets real quiet, and for several moments, all I hear is the clop of the horse’s hooves.
Thanatos: “I blink and ages have passed. The man I took only a moment ago has decayed to dust. The roads of the town I just visited have altered their paths. Round and round the wheel of time turns, faster than even I can make sense of.” Lazarus: “What should a sick bird do?”
Thanatos’s brows come together.
Thanatos: “I don’t underst—”
Lazarus: “Get tweetment.”
He stares down at me, and there’s nothing in his expression. Not even the barest spark of understanding. And I still have a giant, unmoving dick inside of me.
Lazarus: “You know, because birds twee—”
Thanatos: “That can’t actually be a joke,”
Death says disbelievingly.
Lazarus: “Humor is wasted on you,”
I respond, shifting a little because his cock is still just hanging out inside me and we’re supposed to be having sex not debating the quality of a joke that I was asked on the spot to make.
Thanatos: “I don’t need to be worldly to know that was a terrible joke,”
he insists. I mean, if he’d asked me at another time, maybe I would’ve had better material. I lift my arms up in a what-can-I-say gesture.
Lazarus: “I’m not a comedian.”
Thanatos: “Yes, Lazarus, you’ve made that abundantly clear.”
Thanatos: “Lazarus, nothing actually goes. It transforms, but transmutation isn’t actually lost or gone at all. You were you before you had a body, and you will still be you when you no longer have one. A caterpillar might become a butterfly—and a human might become a spirit—but it is still the same essence. It has simply been transformed. Lazarus, if you could see life as I see it, you would know it is all okay—that it will all be okay. That death is the end of suffering.” Thanatos: “I love you,”
he says again, still cupping my face, his eyes searching mine. I’m shaking my head—I don’t know why I’m shaking my head. This is everything I want to hear.
Thanatos: “I do. I have been waiting for you from the moment I was first formed, long before you ever drew breath.”
He takes my hand and presses it over his heart.
Thanatos: “You have been here the whole time, even when I thought I didn’t want it, even when I believed love was a curse and a weakness. Nothing has ever been the same since we first crossed paths, Lazarus. Nothing will ever be the same again. And I swear to you, until my dying day, I will love you.” Thanatos: “You are everything I thought I couldn’t have,”
I want to hide from his raw admission, but only because I’ve been in the habit of doing so for so long. Instead, I lean into that weightless feeling that fills me. I touch Death’s face.
Lazarus: “And you’re everything I thought I shouldn’t have,” I catch his wrist, trying to pry his hand from my flesh.
Lazarus: “It’s too much,”
Thanatos: “You’ll take it,” Thanatos: “I don’t think so, kismet. You’re not done yet.”
I stare at him like he’s sprouted two heads—at least I try to. It’s really fucking difficult when he’s stroking me from both the inside and the outside.
Thanatos: “Yes, say my name again like that.”
Lazarus: “It’s too much,”
Thanatos: “Well, we both know you won’t die from it.”
Ha-ha, he’s so funny. Not. Thanatos: “So, to answer your question, I don’t remember myself when I look at the sky. I remember myself when I look at you.” Thanatos: “You were made for me. And I for you.” Lazarus: “You don’t have to try it,”
Thanatos: “Of course I must. It’s soul food, and I am the overseer of souls.” Thanatos: “In all of my existence, I have never come across anything worth forsaking my duty for until I met you. You are my everything, kismet.” Lazarus: “You told me you loved me.”
My voice breaks.
Lazarus: “Is that not enough?”
Death’s harsh features soften, and his knuckles stroke my cheek.
Thanatos: “My love for you is eternal and unfaltering, Lazarus. Do not doubt that. Stars will form and die, and what I feel for you will remain undimmed.” Victor: “Thanks brother,”
Pestilence says, lifting his bow off of his chest.
Famine: “Just doing my job. Ana tells me we must take care of our elderly.” I’ve read stories about people falling on their own swords. They always made it seem noble and tragic.
Fuck all of that. This hurts like shit. Thanatos: “No, Lazarus, I’m not going to let you go."
Lazarus: "Life and death are lovers. Nothing … changes that.”
I squeeze his hand.
Lazarus: “I love you,” I cannot lose her. It’s not even a question. It’s a certainty. I simply can’t. It’s the same damnable choice Lazarus made when she discovered Ben. A single person can change your life. As a human, you can love deeply enough to doom humanity. Or redeem it. A short distance away, I see Famine just as he flops onto his back and laughs at the sky.
Famine: “I’m mortal!”
His words are cut short by a sharp, hacking cough.
Famine: “I’m mortal.”
Victor: “Just wait until you age,”
Famine: “Looking forward to it, grandpa,” Thanatos: “I cannot believe it took me so long to see what I should’ve all along,”
Lazarus: “I don’t hold it against you. You were thinking about death, and I was thinking about life.”
Thanatos: “Yes, but life and death are lovers, kismet. They always choose each other in the end.” There, standing at the threshold of the afterlife, are my brothers, their wives— And Lazarus, my sweet Lazarus. She opens her arms, and I walk into them. And once again I am home.