Hello, hello friends! I’m so excited to be back with another blog tour hosted by @The Write Reads for The Thirteenth Hour by Trudie Skies. Don’t forget to check out all the other bloggers participating in this tour: here or click on the banner below! 😍
Special thanks to the author for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.
Goodreads: The Thirteenth Hour (Cruel Gods #1)
Publish Date: 13 October 2021
Genre: Adult Fantasy
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.
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.
TL;DR: If you enjoy fantastic world-building with diverse realms and cultures, a great cast of main and supporting characters with found family vibes, and a compelling mystery in a fast-paced urban setting, then you won’t want to miss out on this gem! This is one of the most unique urban steampunk portal fantasies that I’ve had the pleasure to read and I’m so glad that it came across my radar! Side note: for those who are subscribed, you’ll find this title available on Kindle Unlimited. You’re welcome! 😉
If you look at my reading history over the last year and a half, you’ll see that I haven’t been in much of a fantasy mood, so I wasn’t quite sure how I would feel about this read. I needn’t have worried though because Trudie Skies managed to so quickly reel me into this incredible world that they’ve created, and I didn’t want to put the story down for a minute—at over 500 pages, this one’s a bit of a chonkster but I finished it in a little over a day. I have a feeling my review is gonna be a bit of a mess despite trying to write something coherent, so bear with me!
Without a doubt, my favourite aspect of this book was the world-building. It’s vast, complex and had the potential to be completely overwhelming but Skies does a fantastic job in weaving it all together and exposing us to various elements of it in manageable bits and pieces. The story takes place in the steam-powered city of Chime, the mortal realm where gods can’t tread. The city is a cultural melting pot overseen by Wardens and Ambassadors, the chosen mortals that act as the eyes of the twelve gods that live in their realms. The realms are accessible via a portal (clock tower) in the city and the gate that opens depends on the hour of the day. We sadly don’t get to visit all of the realms but they still stood out to me because aside from having different gods, they each had unique populations with different abilities, as well as their own cultures. We have mortals that can manipulate time, nature, fire, light, shadows and memories, and mortals who dream of the future. We have half-animal half-human beings, cherubs, and zephyrs. And of course, the mercilessly cruel gods who have little care for their mortals and who treat them like playthings that are easily discarded. It’s a fairly bleak world where people are oppressed and abuse is rampant but Skies balances the darker tones of the story with quick-witted monologues and humorous dialogue and banter. I was surprised by how much I managed to laugh!
The world-building was completely immersive and it was so easy to picture this fascinating world come to life and the diverse mix of mortals that populate it. It honestly felt like I had a front-row seat to everything that happens, and a lot happens! This story is full of action from the beginning and for the most part, the pace remained steady throughout the read. There were moments that I felt the pace slowed down especially towards the middle, and perhaps some parts could’ve been shortened, but I truly never felt bored. There were several plot twists and reveals that I was able to predict but I continued to be surprised even after the reveals because the author would take the story one step further in a direction that I didn’t expect and it was thrilling! With each chapter read, I continued to be so intrigued by where things were going plus, I found the characters extremely compelling and I needed to know how things would turn out in the end.
The story is told from two POVs: Kayl, a godless heathen, and Quen, the notorious Dark Warden Diviner. They’re both well-fleshed out and have distinct voices that make it easy to distinguish between their POVs. Kayl and Quen are complete opposites but they’re both imperfect characters that I loved and hated in turns (okay, hate is a strong word but I definitely wanted to give both of them a very good shake at certain points)! 😂 It was really interesting to see how different their views and experiences are with the city and the gods, and as a reader, it allows us to empathise with the situations both characters find themselves in. I don’t want to go into too much detail about them because as much as this is plot-heavy, a lot of the mystery that drives the story revolves around these characters. I will say that I loved the complexity of each character and how they develop throughout the story. There is a bit of a romance subplot that didn’t really work for me because it felt a little “insta” but it didn’t bother me overly much. Aside from Kayl and Quen, there’s a great cast of supporting characters in the “godless” crew that form a wonderful found family. They’ve all been mistreated and abused by their gods and they simply want to live a life free from oppression, and it’s hard not to empathise with their situations. I loved their friendships and the group chemistry/banter, so it wasn’t at all hard to root for them!
Overall, this was a fantastic read that ends on such a heart-pounding note, though I wouldn’t say it’s a cliffhanger, and I simply cannot wait until the next book comes out because I really want to know what happens next now that things have gotten even more complex and the situation feels even direr than ever!
Have you read The Thirteenth Hour or is it on your TBR?