Genre: Fantasy, Romance
LGBTQ+ Category: Gay, Lesbian, Poly, Gender Fluid
Reviewer: S.C., Paranormal Romance Guild
About The Book
No name. No past. One giant future?
The only thing worse than suddenly waking up in a magical house with the insanely gorgeous Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse? Being the Fifth.
With no memory of who I am, where I came from, or what I’m doing here, I’m thrust into a new life with four people who I might want more from than just friendship. But with no past, how can I possibly plan for a future?
The only clue as to who I am? Four different species’ magic resides within me—Vampire, Fae, Shifter, and Witch—and between them, I might be the most powerful creature on the planet.
For fuck’s sake.
Look out world, Horseman of Magic coming through!
This is a 120,000-word fantasy polyromance book where the main character will not be forced to choose between their love interests. This book contains lesbian and gay content, excess profanity, a character who can shift their sex (both male and female), is gender and sexually fluid, and who spends a lot of time being a snarky, swearing badass. Please refer to this book’s content guidance page in the front matter for specifics.
The Fifth Horseman has an incredible premise and unique worldbuilding. Imagine waking up with no knowledge of where you are or who you were— and finding out that you might be the most powerful being in the universe. What’s more, you are surrounded by four other incredibly powerful beings who will become your family, your allies, and even your lovers. That’s what happens to a mysterious gender-fluid magical creature who is mainly referred to by various per names throughout the book (but uses female pronouns and we can call her Taylor).
This is an epic-length novel that handles complex issues of polyamory, but sacrifices a lot to do so. While the Four Horsemen (one of whom is actually a Horsewoman) have a huge task at hand, to save the world, not end it, the introduction of this unknown being seems to come first. Taylor has the magical makeup of a witch, fae, vampire, and shifter, and can move between male and female genders, but is primarily introduced as female. Her coming to awareness of her power and her role takes a backseat to figuring out her place within this unique family. She might be what changes everything for them and for the world.
I appreciate Kilmari’s emphasis on the relationships, because they are all so important, but at the same time, the book has very little forward momentum (perhaps it could best be read as one huge prologue for the rest of the series). While the book promises a steamy RH romance with MM, FM, and FF action, there’s almost no steamy scenes on the page. Taylor mainly muses about polyamorous relationships and comes off as insecure and foul-mouthed, instead of the snarky badass she could be. While she does learn much about her magic and rises to the challenge of taking on both male and female forms, she does not show much in the way of dynamic growth. The other characters have moments where they really shine (like when Connie tells Taylor she’s still a woman, not an it or a this after Taylor freaks out about sprouting a penis when she’s enraged and panicked about doing magic under pressure) or Nine’s sweet concern… but no character gets a full spotlight. Everything is seen through Taylor’s lens, which makes sense, but Taylor’s own self-involvement prevents a deeper appreciation of the rest of the cast so that the reader may struggle to really understand them and root for them as heroes.
This book has such great potential and I’m holding onto high hopes that it sets up the rest of the series beautifully. It went back and forth over the same thoughts and information many times and didn’t uphold its promise as a steamy romance or as an epic fantasy, more like a muted mix of the two. In addition, the length, some inconsistencies, and the lack of heat made it a difficult and complex read.
If you enjoy a book with a unique premise and tons of introspection, this is definitely a book you’ll want to read. I would consider it a must for anyone who wants to push the boundaries of their “reverse harem” romance collection, but don’t expect to see much physical action between characters in this first installment.
S.C. Principale is a voracious writer, reader, baker, and teacher. When she’s not writing paranormal romance and erotica, she loves reading the works of others. She’s a firm believer that great writers must be great readers, too. Reviewing allows her to follow her passion of uplifting and learning from other authors. She lives in Pennsylvania with her amazing husband, their two brilliant and stubborn kids, and their menagerie of six pets.
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