"The Thirteenth Hour" review


Title: The Thirteenth Hour

Author: Trudie Skies

Subgenre: Gaslamp/Steampunk

2021 Bingo squares: Found family, First person, Book club, Mystery, 2021, Cat squasher, Self-published, Genre mashup, Nonbinary character

Recommend: Yes!

Stars: 5/5


A dark gaslamp fantasy with a unique world and twelve original races, each with its own god, The Thirteenth Hour is worth reading just for its premise and setting. But its characters and plot more than do it justice too, as it follows co-protagonists Kayl and Quen through a reluctant partnership to solve a case that begins as a simple murder mystery and turns into something much, much bigger.

Kayl is a member of the Godless who refuses to pray to her god, and Quen is a Warden who is tasked with hunting down and apprehending sinners. Naturally, the two of them are excellent foils for each other - Quen sees where Kayl’s anarchist group fails to recognize the tradeoffs that must be made to appease all factions within the city of Chime, while Kayl sees the realities of suffering that Quen misses, even when Quen’s intentions are often in the right place. Also, Kayl drinks coffee, which to Quen is simply unacceptable; tea is the only civilized drink.

It’s all very gaslamp.

In addition to Kayl and Quen’s partnership, The Thirteenth Hour also features a found family dynamic among the Godless: their leader Harmony, Kayl’s lover Malk, her best friend Dru, Reeve, Sinder, and Vincent. They’re a bit secondary to the plot, but they keep showing up here and there and their presence is always excellent.

As I said at the start, this novel is dark. Like, really dark. Trudie Skies has a complete list of content warnings on her website, and you may want to check that out before reading. There isn’t any gratuitously explicit description of violence or body horror, but the series title “Cruel Gods” is pretty apt, and mortals acting in the name of their gods aren’t too kind to each other, either.

If you’re okay with dark, then I highly recommend this novel!

Cover of The Thirteenth Hour

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River is a MediaWiki developer and admins Leaguepedia. This blog contains her fantasy novel reviews.