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Review: Pride and Pestilence – Nita Round

Pride and Pestilence - Nita Round

Genre: Steampunk, Fantasy

LGBTQ+ Category: Lesbian

Reviewer: H.L.

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About The Book

Rich man, poor man, freeman, or slave. When red fever comes calling, no one is safe.

Captain Ezra Burton brings a ship load of problems to Bristelle and seeks Godwyn Bethwood’s help to soothe the way. If he thought he had problems when he docked, it soon gets worse. Godwyn is dead and now he must deal with his sister and the indomitable Evie Chester.

Burton’s problems seep out on to the streets of the city. Sickness and infection spread unchecked whilst the medics and city men don’t even think there is a problem. Evie and Hesta know better. They cannot ignore the danger and must act to overcome the perils that threaten to overwhelm the city.

When the city is overwhelmed and all feels lost, more extreme magical measures are needed to save them. It takes a summoner, a killer, a healer and a cleanser to attempt what no one has ever tried before. Yet there is a price to pay for this immense outflow of power. Which one of them will pay the price?

The Review

Pride and Pestilence is the fourth book in Nita Round’s Evie Chester Files, and at this stage you absolutely need the rich backstory found in the first three books for this steampunk/alternate reality. This review contains spoilers for Lost and Found (#1), Sirens and Syphons (#2) and Fur and Fangs (#3).

I’ve been looking forward to the next installment in the Evie Chester Files ever since finishing Fur and Fangs, and Pride and Pestilence did not disappoint! In the fourth book in this steampunk/alternate reality fantasy series, Evie Chester – who has grown into her own so much since her first outing – has stepped away from the medical training she pursued in Fur and Fangs due to the ignorance and intolerance of the Anglish citizens, but she hasn’t given up on wanting to help those who are sick. She is continuing to develop her medical knowledge outside of the constraints of the medical society, in addition to using her Gift – a unique power that allows her to see a person’s affliction, draw it into herself, and “purge” it. 

She is also becoming ever closer to Hesta Bethwood, her friend and ally, wanting to trust her and share something more intimate, but still not fully able to reconcile Hesta’s involvement in her slave past.

The city of Bristelle, unfortunately, is facing another crisis fresh off the back of the serial killer threat that gripped the city in the previous installment. A docked slave ship has brought a deadly illness to the city, and with terrifying swiftness, the city is overcome with sickness and infection. It’s a story we are uncomfortably familiar with in real life: the authorities refused to listen to Evie’s warnings, and by the time they realise the danger, it’s too late. Evie and her friends are willing to do whatever it takes to save the citizens of the city, but Evie’s powers don’t seem to work on this new illness. A new ally who joins this ragtag found family seems to offer a solution, but we all know that things can’t be that easy. 

The Evie Chester Files is going from strength to strength. In this installment, we see a threat to the fictional steampunk/Victorian world that in many ways uncomfortably mimics our own COVID-19 pandemic. I could feel the fear and anxiety of the characters emanate through the pages, and I, like Evie, Hesta and their friends, could see the threat and what it would result in long before the authorities finally paid attention. 

Not only is the plot itself engaging and fraught, we see some wonderful development with Evie’s and Hesta’s relationship. Without giving too much away, I’m so glad that time and patience was given to the build of their bond and relationship… but also, that I didn’t have to wait too long!

If you enjoy plot-driven steampunk/fantasy or Victorian-era alternative world books with a sapphic romance front and centre, you should absolutely check out the Evie Chester Files by Nita Round. I myself am eagerly awaiting the fifth story in the series!

The Reviewer

H. L. is a Jewish Australian writer of LGBT+ fiction. She holds a Master of Arts in International Relations (2015) and a Bachelor of Media in Communications and Journalism (2012), both from the University of New South Wales.

She has been writing stories since she was old enough to hold a pen. She is the author of M/M fantasy romance novels Heart Of Dust and Soul Of Ash, Books 1 & 2 of the Death’s Embrace series.

She has had two speculative short stories published: “The Collector” in the 2014 Future Times Award Collection A Tick Tock Heart, and “Entente” in the 2020 Twisted Stories Award Collection Just Alice.

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