The Thirteenth Hour by Joshua Blum
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review.
In a lot of ways, this book is cool and different, taking overused fantasy tropes and turning them on their heads. However, it is also quite tell-y. Some of that could just be the style, but it always rubs me the wrong way while reading something that tells me instead of showing me. The spelling and grammar are mostly smooth and well-done, with a few typos scattered throughout, however the characters don’t talk like real people. Huge sections of beautiful prose are interspersed with awkward, poorly written, sections.
Each time the POV changes, the text colour changes too. While this makes it much easier to follow than some books I’ve read that are full of annoying head jumping, I personally found the different coloured text to be distracting and affected. Also, several times pages end in the middle of a scene… or even a sentence. This tells me that whoever formatted this into an ebook needs to do a bit more work making it read smoothly.
Besides the dialogue sounding like they’re constantly quoting something, many of the conversations are very difficult to follow. With only dialogue and no ‘stage directions’ it’s hard to keep track of who’s saying what, especially if there’s more than two characters in the scene. However, there are a few lines that I really liked. For example: ‘he held up a finger as if to say, “I’m not finished yet,” which had always seemed like an asshole move to me.’ Yes, I’ve always thought that’s an asshole thing to do.
The epilogue is pretty much an elongated moral like at the end of Aesop’s fables. I think the story would be better if the epilogue was cut back a lot or trashed completely. This could be simply personal taste, though. Maybe there are people who like to read a long moral at the end of a book. I found it boring.
Overall, this was a pretty good story, though it could use a good edit to tighten it up and cut a lot of the words. It took me a lot longer to read than a book of this length usually does, and I think a good cut would make it easier and faster to read. However, if you like a fantasy but are sick of the tired old tropes, this would be a good choice.
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