Ebook - Self Published - novel
TBR reviewer: Shyla
They are the harbingers of the Apocalypse.
And only one woman stands between them and us.
THE FOUR HORSEMEN is a race-against-the-clock thriller starring Andie Sullivan. As the world's only "culturalist," she is employed by corporations and wealthy individuals to break through the barriers with any culture around the globe. Now, she faces the most challenging and dangerous assignment of her career. Hired by a ruthless businessman to infiltrate the mysterious tribe who serve as the protectors of the Four Horsemen's ancient secret, Andie is plunged into a mysterious world where every answer only opens the door to more questions. With a shadowy government force and a brutal terrorist also vying for the Horsemen's unfathomable power, Andie must collect them all and unlock their mysteries before time runs out.
The Four Horsemen is an imaginative, dark and detailed story. That begins with a tribe of nomadic people entrusted with a deadly secret 3,000 years ago. The secret is threatened with a man of great power and greed seeks to unleash the four things that could end life as we know it. One by one our characters lives intersect as they are drawn into the lies, danger and mystery that is the search for the Four Horseman.
The legend that kicks thing off is fresh and interesting, though a bit long winded. I had high hopes for how it would continue. Mr. Sussman presented me with something I had not seen before.
The book opens with the intelligent, tough and savvy lead heroine, Andi, on a business deal in Scotland. The setting is dark and rich with detail as we learn about her skill set. A whiz with cultures of any kind she’s often sought for negotiations. Her foundation was laid well, but the information continued to flood me until my eyes balls were swimming. Admittedly the facts and tidbits were interesting. So I was persuaded to wait the slow period out. Convinced it would explode at any minute.
The detonation I anticipated fizzled when Andie was swapped for a completely unconnected character. Troy. Now don’t get me wrong. I like Troy, I really do. He made me laugh, shake my head and say. “What the hell were you thinking?” But he didn’t fit. Even as the trouble he’d fallen into led him on the path of the Four Horseman, I had an uneasy feeling in my gut.
The story line disconnects and throws you out of your seat. Sort of like when you slam on the breaks in your car to avoid the jerk that’s come to a dead halt in front of you. I waited for a recovery, but it never came. I’d compare this story to a body without a soul. Emotion was severally lacking. Not only in the lead Andi who was so cold she could melt ice. I decided I had enough of her long before the book ran it’s course. I am all for a badass woman in charge. I’ve always preferred heroin’s who kick ass and take names. But when she’s a combination of Velma and Daphne; saving the day, solving the problem and looking beautiful, twenty-four seven. She becomes annoying. Characters need flaws and a personality to be believable and engaging. Point in case; when someone’s fiancée dies mysteriously and they have a inkling of who did it. They do not go to work for said person within a twenty-four hour period. (N0, it wasn’t’ some grand scheme to nail his balls to the wall. That I would’ve approved of.)I’m just saying.
Pretty words artfully arranged are nice, but won’t carry a story. I wanted to be able to recommend this book. But too much head hoping, and a unclear explanation of the volumes of information given prevents me from doing so. With some fine tuning Ben Sussman could write a story that would knock the most skeptical of readers on his ass. I hope his next tale he does.
Excerpt of 'The Four Horsemen'
Rivkah heard them and burst from her tent, knowing that they belonged to her mother. As she ran, sand stinging her eyes, blue scarf flapping, she heard others from the tribe emerge with her. Feet flying over the dunes, she scanned the ground, searching.
Suddenly, she stumbled on a bulky object and pitched forward, crashing hard into the ground.
A moan rose up from where she had fallen. Rivkah crawled on her hands and knees until she found a heap of rags on the desert floor.
“Mother?” she asked, her voice tinged with fear and incredulity.
The shadowy shape stirred and Rivkah found herself staring into the face of a woman she hardly recognized. Her mother’s blonde hair was stringy and matted with dirt. The fine lines and planes of her face were covered in filth. It had been four days since her mother had left for the mountains and they had apparently been cruel ones. Upon seeing Rivkah, however, her lips were broken by a weak smile.
“My child,” Miryam struggled to say. “I told you I would return.”
“Let me help you,” Rivkah managed to lift her to a sitting position, eliciting another piercing scream. Miryam fell back into the sand. As she did, a tied sack she had been clutching tumbled to the ground.
The woman mumbled something unintelligible. Rivkah bent her head to hear the words. “Asherah,” was all she could discern. Was she praying to the goddess for help?
“Mother,” she said softly, “what happened on the mountain?”
The words came between shuddering breaths. “I saw the goddess herself, child. Asherah met me on the mountaintop and gave me these,” she gestured at the bag, which shifted from some unseen force in its center. “She was angry and that anger is a terrible thing. People were already forgetting her. Squeezing her out of the histories or smearing her name.”
Rivkah nodded, understanding. Asherah had been known for centuries as the revered wife of Yahweh, the queen of heaven. Yet now, with the Israelites embracing the one-God concept, her existence was problematic. Rivkah’s tribe was the only one that had remained dedicated followers and it was the reason that they had been banished from their beloved homeland.
“Because of our loyalty, she has entrusted us with a great secret.” Again, Miryam looked down to the bag. “What sits here has the power to destroy all mankind, fashioned by the dark forces. Asherah stole them away, placed them in our care.”
She shifted and her tunic fell open, causing Rivkah to draw a sharp intake of breath. Covering her mother’s side was a trail of dark burn marks, raw and red in the moonlight.
She felt the pinch of her mother’s hand on her arm and then her face was inches away. Desperate, pleading eyes bored into hers.
“I’m dying,” she croaked.
“Listen! It is your responsibility now. You must take them, hide them.”
A small man with dark flowing robes had appeared at their side, the tribe’s healer. “My queen!” he gasped, upon seeing Miryam. He began to pull at her arm, gently urging her back to the camp. Her hand caught him in the nose, sending him backwards.
“One will come, one like us,” she continued, reaching out to caress a strand of Rivkah’s golden hair. With a moan of pain, her fingers yanked away as she doubled over.
The healer was tugging at her again, insisting that she must come back to the camp if he were to help.
Miryam pushed the sack towards Rivkah, who reached out and grabbed its side.
A lightning bolt of hot agony shot up her arm, causing her to cry out.
“They are our burden until we can send them away,” her mother warned her.
Rivkah nodded in acceptance, bringing a gaze of affection to Miryam’s face. She flung her arms around her mother, holding tight as she felt the life draining away.
“What if I fail?” the girl whispered.
She waited for an answer but it never came. Pulling back, she noted her mother’s slack jaw and glassy eyes. Death had come for Miryam.
Just as destiny had come for Rivkah.