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Surrealistic Planet

Review: The Thirteenth Hour by Trudie Skies

I absolutely loved this book! It has become a firm favourite. The reason is simple; it is so original. I haven’t read anything with its premise before. It plays into my wheelhouse of superheroes. That doesn’t mean there are any in this story, there aren’t. Instead, there are people – different races – who each have specific abilities that make them more than human. There are twelve such races.

Their homes are in different dimensions which are accessed by a gateway in the city of Chime, which stands outside of these dimensions. With clockwork regularity, the gateway rotates to each dimension for an hour before moving onto the next. Exactly how a clock works. Chime is populated by citizens of these dimensions. People who are accountable to their respective god. Entities who can be exceptionally cruel – hence the title of the series.

Chime is a cosmopolitan city and, as in our own world, some races live well together. Others become the workforce, even slaves of the rich and powerful. This battle for power, waged at the expense of people’s lives and welfare, is what drives the narrative. A story told from the perspective of two people. Kayl is enigmatic in terms of her background and the main protagonist here. Loveable, tender but irresponsible and with a snarky sense of humour.

The exact opposite is Quen, a guy who is cautious, pernickety and represents the city’s authority figures. There are other characters. Each one unusual in terms of their racial profile but also in terms of their personality. They provide warmth and humour. They have you applauding their successes, your anxiety when they get into trouble.

It takes a while to understand all this information. There is a lot of world building to take in. It is always done with subtlety, in ways that advance the narrative and its characters. Frequently with a smile on your face too. It’s a tale filled with nuance and warmth. Though its villains are awful, horrible types, they never tip the story into too much darkness.

The action trips along at a steady pace, increasing in acceleration until the climactic section where all hell breaks loose. Classic use of pace and tension.

The second story in this series, The Children of Chaos, follows on from where the first book ends. Kayl and Quen continue to strive to make the place better but obstructions come from all directions. It means action continues, danger persists everywhere. Yet our two heroes try to find time for each other, always failing.

The third novel in the series, according to Trudie, likely to be out by the end of the year. I've made her promise to let me have an ARC so I can let you all know where the story goes next. That gives you plenty of time to read the first two books. If you enjoy snarky humour, inventive world building, engaging characters and plenty of action - these are the books for you.


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