Today is my stop on the blog tour for The Thirteenth Hour by Trudie Skies, organised by The Write Reads. I have already featured this book on my blog a couple of times with both a Cover Reveal and then also with an Illustration Showcase and have been eagerly anticipating reading it, so I am very grateful to Dave from the Write Reads and the author, Trudie Skies for inviting me along on this tour!
Title: The Thirteenth Hour by Trudie Skies
Series: The Cruel Gods (#1)
Published: October 13, 2021
Genre: Gaslamp Fantasy; Adult Fantasy
Length: 535 Pages
Book Cover Illustration: James T. Egan of Bookfly Design (https://www.bookflydesign.com/)
Map design: Soraya Corcoran (https://sorayacorcoran.com/)
Character art: Seraphim (https://seraphimistic.carrd.co/)
Cruel gods rule the steam-powered city of Chime, demanding worship and tribute from their mortal subjects. Kayl lost her faith in them long ago, and now seeks to protect vulnerable and downtrodden mortals from their gods’ whims. But when Kayl discovers powers that she didn’t know she had—and destroys a mortal’s soul by accident—she becomes Chime’s most wanted.
Quen’s job was to pursue sinners, until the visions started. Haunted by foreboding images of his beloved city’s destruction, Quen hunts soul-sucking creatures made of aether who prey on its citizens—and Kayl is his number one target.
To ensure Chime’s future, Kayl and Quen must discover the truth of Kayl’s divine abilities before the gods take matters into their own hands.
For a city that bows to cruel gods, it’ll take godless heathens to save it.
The Thirteenth Hour is the first book in The Cruel Gods series—a gaslamp fantasy featuring magical portals, gothic cosmic deities, quaint Britishisms, and steampunk vibes. This is an adult book containing strong language and mature themes that some readers may find disturbing. For a full list of content warnings, visit Trudie Skies‘ website.
I was sent a digital copy of The Thirteenth Hour by The WriteReads tour company – thank you very much! My review is honest and my opinions are my own.
From the minute I saw the map reveal for this book back in August I have been eagerly anticipating reading it and was not at all disappointed! In fact I was completely blown away and cannot wait for the sequel!
The story is a gaslamp fantasy set in the intriguing and highly imaginative city of Chime. Chime is populated by amazingly colourful characters in both personality and skin tone:
“Among the line of Vesper, Dru’s mossy-green skin contrasted with their dark blues, purples, and gray tones, and my indigo shade. While most Umber resembled walking stone, Dru took on the more natural aspects of her god. I loved the patterns of vined leaves that curled around her head instead of hair, and in place of her eyebrows, a line of golden daisies sprouted”Kayl
The main character, Kayl, who was my favourite character in the novel, is a likeable, yet flawed member of an underground organization of godless citizens who help refugees escape from their cruel gods and into safety. The Godless are Kayl’s found family – a trope which I always enjoy. She is forgetful, wittily sarcastic, often late and at the beginning of the story she is working undercover for the Godless in a Glimmer tearoom enabling her to spy on the Glimmer who have been stealing people to send to the workhouses as slave labour:
“All things considered, I didn’t mind the work, even if my purpose was espionage rather than earning an honest wage. Though I doubted such work could make an honest woman out of me.”Kayl
She discovers she has unusual powers near the beginning of the story, an ability to resist the time-stopping powers of the Diviner and to take on the physical characteristics and powers of other races. This was a fascinating trait as it meant we were introduced in detail to each of the races and their powers as Kayl effortlessly switched between them. What could possibly be a more perfect ability for someone trying to blend in and spy on the Wardens?
In addition to this unusual ability, Kayl also fears that her inner monologue has taken on a personality of its own and that she may be going insane:
“This… voice inside of my head. It spoke to me. It had taken over my body and caused whatever interference had destroyed the aether bulbs in the Glimmer estate. I’d woken up here with this voice talking to me as though it wasn’t part of me at all!”Kayl
Quentin Corinth, a Diviner and Warden known as The Dark Warden due to events from his shady past is able to command time. He is another main character from whose perspective part of the story is told. He is also likeable – a bureaucrat with a love of tea. He has the unusual ability of being able to tell how someone died by seeing their final hour of life. He is not as straightforward as he seems, however, with unusual opinions for a Warden regarding the political situation within Chime:
Truth was, the Godless weren’t a violent group, and their protests had improved lives among the Vesper and poorest of Chime. If anything, Chime needed a few Godless heathens to upset the status quo. To actually make the Covenant worth something.Quen
The world-building in this novel is extremely imaginative. The world is divided into twelve sectors, each with its own distinctive look and climate, inhabited by a different fantastical race with disparate powers and ruled over by its own god. This is rather a lot to come to terms with, but the careful way it is gradually introduced by the author means it is not too confusing at all and a richly rewarding aspect of the novel.
“Eventide’s landscape opened up to wide lavender fields and quaint farmhouses built inside giant treelike mushrooms. I’d always known Valeria’s mortals held a penchant for mushrooms, but seeing it with my own eyes brought their tales to life. The trees were made from a variety of mushrooms; some tall and droopy, others with thick toadstools and dull gray caps that loomed over the fields like giant umbrellas. The many homes we passed were made from red-and-white spotted caps draped in linen, and the foliage along the roadside was a mix of colorful and glowing toadstools, chanterelle, and puffballs.”Kayl
The city of Chime is located through a gate in the center and cannot be entered by any of the gods, who are unable to leave their own realm. This makes it a more independent place, where godless mortals can hide and relax, despite its chaotic feel. It is policed by bureaucratic Wardens whose role is to keep everything running smoothly.
“That was what I loved about Chime: the hustle and bustle of mortals from all twelve domains thrown together and forced to get along despite our many differences.”Kayl
As the plot develops we learn that something of a mystery is occurring. Quen has been assigned by his boss, the Diviner Ambassador Elijah Karendar, to investigate the mysterious recent deaths which have been happening in Chime, but he will need to gain the cooperation of the Vesper from the Undercity to be successful.
“A creature made of pure aether that could steal the souls of Diviner? Specifically targeting us? A truly terrifying tale to be dismissed as fantasy and speculation. Yet I’d seen it—felt it—through the death of another.Quen
Quen and Kayl make an unlikely alliance and attempt to get to the bottom of the mystery. Luckily their combined unusual talents make them the ideal candidates for the job and together they uncover even more unexpected mysteries which may be linked to Kayl’s newfound talents.
The Thirteenth Hour is a fabulously original character-driven fantasy, with an intriguing plot and wonderfully unique world-building. I recommend it to any fans of fantasy with a gaslamp/steampunk feel. I am thoroughly looking forward to revisiting these characters in the next episode in this series!
Character Descriptions by Trudie Skies
Kayl is the primary main character for The Thirteenth Hour. She’s a Vesper and has the power to summon and manipulate shadows, though at the start of the story she discovers powers she didn’t know she had – the ability to take on the appearance and powers of other domains through touch! Kayl is a playful character who serves the Godless as a spy.
Quen is the secondary main character and works as a Warden in opposition to the Godless. He’s a Diviner, which allows him to manipulate time. He can also view the past and future of those he touches, which includes the exact moment of their death. He’s been experiencing visions of Chime’s future destruction.
Malk is another Vesper and member of the Godless, and Kayl’s longterm boyfriend. He’s the fighter of the team and handy in a knife fight. He grew up on Eventide and watched his father die because he couldn’t make a tithe to their god.
Dru is an Umber, and Kayl’s best friend. As an Umber, she is made of literal stone with vines for her hair and flowers that sprout from her brow. She has a natural talent for gardening and helps grow fruit and veg for the Godless. She also acts as a caregiver for Reve.
Harmony is a Seren, a small 4-foot Cherub-like race, though unlike the rest of her race, she only possesses one wing as her other wing was ripped off by her god. At 40, Harmony is the oldest of the Godless and also their leader. She works at the Chime Courier newspaper office by day which is where they get their intel.
Sinder is an Ember with the power to manipulate and summon flame. Covered in piercings and tattoos, Sinder likes to dress in feminine clothing such as corsets. He spent years trapped inside a workhouse and still has PTSD from that time. His role with the Godless is to spy and use his fire power when needed. He’s in a relationship with Vincent.
Vincent is a Necro, who are vampire-like in appearance with the ability to physically manipulate bodies, including healing them or tailoring their appearance. However, this ability comes with a hunger for human flesh and blood. Vincent is the healer of the Godless.
Reve is a young Mesmer boy who receives visions which help the Godless plan their next moves. When not acting as the Godless seer, Reve spends much of his time sleeping, though he suffers from nightmares.
Bonus character not included above:
Elijah is another Diviner. In fact, he’s their ambassador and Quen’s direct superior. He’s also the main antagonist for The Thirteenth Hour. Though he can also manipulate time, his main ability lies in bureaucracy (and being an asshole!)
About the Author
Trudie Skies has been living inside fantasy worlds ever since she discovered that reality doesn’t quite live up to the hype. Through the magic of books, she wishes to share these worlds of hope and heroes with other weary souls. Living in North East England, Trudie spends most of her free time daydreaming about clouds, devouring whatever fantasy books or video games she can get her hands on, and chasing after her troublesome dogs, who would like to reassure you they are very good boys.
Her debut YA fantasy series, Sand Dancer, was published through Uproar Books. Trudie is now writing adult gaslamp fantasy with her new series, The Cruel Gods.