Today on the blog, it’s my stop on the blog tour run by The Write Reads for a fantastic gaslamp fantasy that absolutely captured my imagination: The Thirteenth Hour by Trudie Skies! This book is filled with gods, mortals, and cHAoS. It’s ambitious, fast-paced, and dark and I loved it!
But I’m getting ahead of myself, aren’t I? Before I get further into this post, I want to thank a few people. First, I want to thank Dave @ The Write Reads and all the incredible people working behind the scenes for allowing me to be a part of this tour! I would also like to thank the author, Trudie Skies, for providing me with a free e-book in exchange for my participation with this tour and an honest review. It was very much appreciated.
Alright, let’s get into the post!
When the saints fail, the sinners step up.
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’s website.
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.
Have you ever found yourself reading a book where you knew within the first few pages that it was going to be a new favorite? That’s what happened to me as I was reading The Thirteenth Hour! I was instantly pulled into this story and I didn’t want to leave!
This is an intricate and ambitious story that is focused on two main characters: Kayl and Quen. Kayl is a Vesper, a mortal created by one of the twelve gods of this world. But Kayl is also one of the Godless, a rebellious group of mortals that have forsaken their cruel gods and seek to protect the less fortunate of Chime, a city that is kind of a neutral zone when it comes to the influence of the various gods. Quen is a Diviner Warden, tasked with helping to uphold the Covenant that guarantees all mortals from all the different domains shall be treated equally. But words on paper don’t often translate to real life and Quen is in the process of investigating a grievous breach to the Covenant when his path crosses with that of Kayl. After a fateful event that kicks off a city-wide manhunt, their fates become inextricable entwined.
Y’all, when I tell you that this book had me captivated from page one until the very end, I ain’t lyin’! I absolutely devoured this novel and it is not a short book! The pages fly by, though, and I wouldn’t even realize how much I had read until I, eventually, had to come up for air. Because, ya know, life and responsibilities and all that silly junk. This was such a delight to consume and I was a little sad when I reached the end and realized there was no more! Thank goodness this is just the beginning to a series because I already want more from this world!
Speaking of this world, can we talk about the world-building? Because it’s been a minute since I’ve seen a world so meticulously put together and imagined! There is a lot going on in Chime. As I mentioned, there are twelve different gods who created twelve different types of mortals in their own images. Each of these mortals is gifted with some kind of power from their respective god and each mortal is beholden to their gods’ whims. All twelve gods also rule over their own domain, as represented on the gorgeous map above. So… ya know… there’s lots to learn! Trudie Skies somehow effortlessly weaves all the lore into the story in a way that feels natural. Not once did I feel like a lot of info was being dumped on me, which is a testament to the author when there is so much information to include! You would think that all of this could get confusing, but I found myself acclimating to this world and it’s rules quickly and easily.
Now, even though this world that was created is beautiful, there is certainly a dark side. I liked that the story doesn’t shy away from ugliness, but I would definitely check trigger warnings before diving into this one. This is a world ruled by gods who view mortals as playthings and mortals who can be quite depraved… and the author does not shy away from how that can play out. It adds to the grittiness of the story and I think she does a fine job of exploring these darker topics without it feeling like it’s thrown in just for shock value. Still, there’s quite a bit in her that could be triggering, so, again, definitely check out those content and trigger warnings beforehand.
My favorite aspect of this book, though, has to be the characters! Kayl and Quen, especially, but all of the characters in this story are fantastically written! Even the ones you hate 😂 Kayl and Quen are in a realm all of their own. I adored their characters so much! They were complex, flawed, intriguing, and so well-written that they practically leap from the pages. I especially loved Quen. I connected with his character so much and just wanted to protect him from all the evils of the world, dangit! An author that can write one character that truly resonates with me is doing good work… to write two or more that really stuck in my soul is an incredible accomplishment! It was fascinating watching these characters develop as the story progressed.
Final thoughts: If you are at all a fan of fantasy, you enjoy complex and rich worlds, and you don’t mind when things go to the darker side, I think you would love The Thirteenth Hour! This is story that encompasses so much, yet doesn’t make you feel like you’re completely out of your depths. The world-building is intricate and well done, immersing you into this story in an effortless way. The plot will keep you on your toes from the moment you open the book until you turn the last page! There are definitely some darker topics explored, so make sure to check trigger warnings. The best part of the story, though, is the characters. They are flawed, intriguing mortals that will capture your heart and imagination very quickly. I was enamored with this novel and I cannot wait until book two!