My dear bookish friends!
Today I have for you a review of a book I’ve been wanting to read for ages – ever since I fell in love with that beautiful cover. I mean, just look at it!! I’m usually not a huge fan of anything steampunk but for some reason it really spoke to me here. And I’m really glad that the TheWriteReads blog tour came along, so I finally dived into this amazing world that Trudie created! Big thank you to both Dave and Trudie for my spot on the tour and for the ebook (which did in no way affect my rating).
Keep on reading to find out more about the book, and for my review!
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.
As mentioned above, I don’t usually read much steampunk and when I read the term “gaslamp fantasy” I was intrigued but pretty much clueless. I always love trying out new genres and I was so glad I gave this one a try – it was so much fun delving into the story! It hooked me right from page one! There is a sense of urgency to the plot and I didn’t want to put it down again until I found out what exactly the two characters we got introduced to were after.
I love the theme of thresholds and portals in fantasy, so the setting in Chime – a city that connects the twelve mortal realms. It was pretty obvious that a lot of work must have gone into creating these – as each of the realms is different and unique, with their own special worldviews, powers, and gods. In relation to that I must mention the maps in the very front of the book. They are so beautiful and professional and detailed, and I spent a great deal returning to them – so pretty!
The people are all unique to their realms too. They have different powers, like controling fire and light, hiding in the shadows, controling time and many more. The world is built like a clock – each realm is is like a pizza piece of the clock and they all meet in the middle – where the city of Chime is set. This is where people of all realms come together to live and work.
I was surprised to find out that the gods in the book aren’t as you would imagine them. They aren’t really benevolent beings that people would pray to with their deepest hopes and wishes – and who would treat their mortals kindly and fairly. No. The opposite is the case! (I guess being called The Cruel Gods it makes sense, but I didn’t connect the title with the story immediately, lol). It was so interesting to find that the best the mortals could do was to try and not to catch their god’s attention. The people weren’t treated equally either – there was oppression, there was abuse, there was darkness. Not all of that was inflicted by the gods only – many people were just as cruel.
Quen and Kayl, the main characters, try to live on their own terms, without having to obey their god. Something very dangerous – as worship of one’s realm’s god is expected and those who do not obey are punished – harshly. It was interesting to see the point of view switch between that of Kayl and Quen. I liked when secrets of the characters’ past was revealed little by little, and to see them fight for their friends’ and their own lives – but also for others’. The story makes one question the ‘rules’ of faith and religion, even though it is, of course, limited to the fantasy setting here. I like books that make you think, and The Thirteenth Hour is one of them.
What I found a little hard at first was all the different cultures and peoples and realms. While I loved the apparent effort that went into them all, it was a little overwhelming to wrap my head around them all at first.
However, the idea behind everything is so unique and special, and I loved that. If you are a fan of the steampunk subgenre, I’m certain you will love this one. But also if you like fantasy stories about friendship, faith, sticking together despite hardships, this one will appeal to you.
4.5 stars from me, and I can’t wait to read more from Trudie!
Thank you all so much for reading!