on October 13th 2021
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.
Thank you to the author and The Write Reads for a free copy in exchange for an honest review.
Phew, where to start with this one? I heard about The Thirteenth Hour by Trudie Skies a little before the release. She was talking about the domains and even made a quiz. I’m a sucker for quizzes so I took it; Diviner was my result. She told me they were the villains in the story, which got me even more interested. Along with the quiz, she had this amazing map of the world made. I was already invested in this universe before I read a single letter.
So when I opened it and finally met Kayl and Quen, I was utterly delighted I got to explore this world with them. It’s a cruel world where most people experience oppression of some kind, but man, was it fun to explore. There’s so much in the worldbuilding. Twelve domains, the large Chime city at the centre, all of the gods, races, and powers. Every few pages, you’d learn something new about the world. I was five chapters in when my mind was already thinking of writing fan fiction. I’ve never had that experience so quickly. (Coming soon?)
Kayl and Quen are the only two point-of-view characters in the book but the total cast of characters is amazingly diverse. Not just in races but in personalities. It’s interesting to see the group of the Godless working together, all with their own backgrounds, wounds, and powers. They want to save others from the cruelty their gods bestow upon them. The conversations Kayl and Quen have about religion and devotion to one’s god are well-written and nuanced. I didn’t get a feeling either one was preaching as it was conveying what they truly thought.
Now, in the world of Chime, it’s not so much believing in a god you can’t see. They’re physical beings who live in their own domains. You can visit them (although not recommended because that usually means you’ll be punished). It’s about servitude. Do you owe your god your prayers because they created you while you didn’t ask for it? If such a question frustrates you, I might suggest skipping this book because this conversation is a large part of the story.
I was sad when I closed the book. I was even sadder when I couldn’t go back to Chime the following day because there were no pages left. Luckily, Trudie is planning to release two more Cruel Gods books THIS YEAR! Rejoice! I’m throwing all my money at Trudie and will wait patiently for the new releases. I want to get paperbacks of all of them because have you seen the cover art? It’s absolutely gorgeous. And I want a poster of the map. And a replica of Quen’s dead pocket watch.
It probably won’t surprise you that I’m giving The Thirteenth Hour five stars. No, wait six stars. Seven stars? All the stars! Trudie is getting them all. I highly, highly recommend this book to anyone who loves fantastic worldbuilding, to people who loved Arcane (the League of Legends animated series on Netflix), or fans of gaslamp fantasy. You won’t be disappointed.