Book Three of the Riders of the Apocalypse
By Jackie Morse Kessler
Available now from Graphia (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Read my reviews of HUNGER, RAGE, and LOSS and my two interviews with Jackie
I have enjoyed the Riders of the Apocalypse story more with each book. Jackie Morse Kessler has brought her series to a fitting, stirring conclusion, albeit one that won't make sense to readers who haven't read the three previous books in the series. BREATH is not only the story of Death, but also the end of the stories of each of the Horsemen.
Death is not like the other Horsemen and never has been. He is older and more powerful and never human. But that doesn't mean he can't become suicidal. And if Death commits suicide, then the world dies with him. The world's only chance is Xander Atwood. Death owes him a boon and can't end the world until he repays it. Xander, who can barely face his own issues, is thrust into the position of confidant and therapist.
I loved how the stories of Tammy, Missy, and Billy weaved into the stories of Death and Xander. BREATH could have easily felt overstuffed, but I thought all of the elements worked together. And I was especially happy to get more of Tammy's story, considering I mentioned long ago in my 2010 review of HUNGER, "Tammy's story has no resolution." Turns out I was wrong. Kessler also addresses the issues I had with Missy and Death's relationship, and briefly touches again on her sister. Billy's connection to his predecessors continues to be important to the story, just as he continues to be my favorite Horseman. Leaving threads hanging can make stories seem more realistic, but I'm happy that Kessler finished her tapestry neatly.
I have been fascinated by the figure of Death through HUNGER, RAGE, and LOSS. I wondered how Kessler could ever reveal more about him without ruining everything, but I think she managed. Death's tale contains love, betrayal, creation, despair, the whole of our universe. It's an intriguing origin and makes him no less interesting.
I enjoyed Xander's story too. I felt it was a bit easy to figure out what happened to him, but I'm not sure it was supposed to be a huge mystery. Kessler certainly wasn't leery of giving clues. But I loved his personality, very giving and compassionate. He was the right character at the right time, albeit one with a life punctuated by inopportune moments.
I highly recommend the Riders of the Apocalypse series as a whole. They're a unique blend of urban fantasy and issue novels and each piece comes together so wonderfully. Kessler's afterword tells how much of the story was unplanned, which is amazing given how wonderfully constructed the series is.