Publication Date: 13/10/2021
Length: 535 pages
Genre: Fantasy | Gaslamp Fantasy
When the saints fail, the sinners step up.GoodReads
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.
This novel first caught my attention a few months ago when Skies shared the aesthetics of the world and accompanying quotes of The Thirteenth Hour on Twitter. I was immediately invested in these characters and couldn’t wait for the novel to come out to meet them. Now that I have finished the book, I can safely say that the characters lived up to my expectations and more!
Even if the novel was the first time I had encountered any of the characters, or the idea of these characters, it’s clear through Skies’ writing that a lot of careful thought and craft has gone into the personalities and backstories of each one. It was impossible for me not to love these characters, or at least, love reading how characters reacted in certain situations. I really liked how, although the characters were all from different domains with certain characteristics, it wasn’t just these characteristics that defined them. When it comes to having such different races of characters in fantasy novels, there is always the danger of the characters becoming caricatures, or feeling the same, Skies deftly avoids this by creating unique and engaging characters whether they be one of the ‘main’ protagonists or a minor character. I especially loved the dialogue between the characters and how natural the conversations between friends (and even enemies) felt. I also loved the witty one-liners and snarky remarks which often had me laughing out loud which I don’t do often when reading.
The Thirteenth Hour is told through alternating perspectives of Kayl, a Godless Vesper from the Undercity who hates the Gods and what they stand for and through Quentin (Quen) Corinth, a Diviner and a Warden who has a duty to investigate and correct blasphemy and apostasy. By exploring the world through these two characters, the reader is exposed to two very different views of society and the Gods that control the domains. Not only does this give a greater understanding of the motivations behind certain characters and races, but it also helps endear us even more to Quen and Kayl. Whilst this technique would often mean that the reader is more privy to certain information – that isn’t always the case here. There is a particular recurring plot point which I didn’t give a lot of weight to in the beginning, however, as the novel progresses I began to realise just how important it really is which kept me a healthy dose of suspicious (in a good way!) throughout the novel.
I loved the pacing of the novel, whilst a majority of it was fast paced we are still given plenty of moments where we can take a breath which, for me, is incredibly important. This can often be a difficult balance to get right, however Skies achieves it perfectly, like your favourite tea blend coupled with a (bourbon) biscuit. As this is the first novel in a series, it’s vital to get this right as, sometimes, the beginning of a series can feel a bit of a bombardment of information. Although we do get plenty of information about the world and how it works, there is still a lot left to explore. I am particularly keen to see more of the other domains in future novels as I could so clearly picture Chime through Skies descriptions that I’m very excited to see how the other domains compare.
Overall, if you’re looking for a new fantasy series that’s a bit different to sink your teeth into – I highly recommend picking this one up as I can tell we’re in for a wonderful, wild, ride. The final lines of the novel gripped my heart and left me both worried and excited for my new favourite characters in equal measure!