Blurb: “The little girl cupped her hands and whispered almost inaudibly into her father’s ear. “The Pestilence is coming. Everybody here is going to die.”
A mysterious electrical phenomenon rolls above the cities of the world. The lightning which comes from the east, shines as far as the west, turning night into day.
Two brothers of the lightning, Samuel Srour and Victor Pierre Chaput are gifted powers by the storm. Their paths intertwined, with enemies on all sides.
Samuel Srour has unwittingly started a revolution. His Healed walk the Earth. Free of injury, sickness and disease, but powerful forces stand in his way and the Pestilence is drawing ever closer.
My Rating: 4.5/5
Review: I have to start this by saying two things, one is that this is the first book I have read set in this part of the world and the second is that although I have read the book I’m still not sure what genre I would put it in if I were forced to choose one. From the blurb this sounds a bit like a sci-fi or fantasy book and in some respects that is accurate but it is so much more than that. There is a strong, but not overpowering religious background to a lot of the story but as I read I found this unsurprising given the fact that Samuel is suddenly able to heal everyone and is seen as a miracle worker. Also given the story is set in and around Jerusalem there has to be at least a passing reference to the religious significance of that area. In case this does not appeal to you let me say this, I am not at all religious and found those references used in the right amount for this story, they were used in just the right amount to inform and set the story and explain people’s reactions to Samuel’s new powers but not in a way that was forcing anyone to suddenly find religion for themselves.
From my rating it’ll be obvious that I enjoyed this book, so much so that I read it in less than a day. It’s not excessively long but the author has managed to pack a lot into those pages without making it feel heavy, this is quite a skill and something not all authors can achieve. There is a lot of description and it is excellently done although I felt there was a little too much information in one or two areas, such as the guns chosen by Samuel’s security, it was informative but, in my opinion, a little too much information and this is why I haven’t rated it as 5 stars. The descriptions of the locations and the people are done so beautifully and definitely make you feel as if you are there, in fact I spent most of the book feeling as if I was next to Samuel, almost inside his head because his decisions and reasoning behind them are explained so well that you almost feel as if you are being consulted in the decision making process. While there is a lot of focus on Samuel from the media and the sick and dying there is another person affected by the lightning, Victor, and I spent quite a lot of the story trying to figure out if he was what he seemed and what he was up to. Thankfully my feelings towards him turned out to be accurate and his true nature is revealed in spectacular fashion.
Along with Samuel and Victor there is a host of supporting characters and each one is written so well that you get a good sense of them as a person, even if they only make brief appearances. There is so much more I could write here but in doing that I would be giving away too much of the story so I will say this; this is essentially a book about humanity and how people deal with great power. It shows how people can use power for good or bad, how they can heal the sick and dying or choose to take a different path. This book takes the reader on a journey with a difference, this is easily the farthest I have ever travelled without leaving my home, not only have I travelled to areas of the world I have not visited but the journey that you go on in the book, especially with Samuel and those around him is so great that I felt I was in a different place from the one I started in, this opens your eyes to a slightly different view of the world and then explains that you knew this already, you just didn’t realise it.
This is a stunning debut novel and I am definitely looking forward to book 2.
About Faisal Ansari: Faisal Ansari has spent the majority of his adult life strapped into a suit writing marketing and stuffy legal documentation for M&A transactions in the City.
Despite growing up in London, Faisal’s overwhelming preference is to be outdoors. When trapped indoors he reads until his eyes bleed.
The Pestilence is his first novel.