January 6, 2012 by Heidi
Author: Michael Scott [Website|Twitter|Facebook] and Colette Freedman [Website|Twitter]
Standing: Stand alone novel.
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Thriller
Published: December 6th, 2011 by Tor Books
Format: Hardcover; 350 pages.
Source: Borrowed from my local library.Sarah Miller is drawn into an unimaginable situation when she saves Judith Walker, a septuagenarian (this word is used twice in the book…I personally feel like there isn’t room for more than one use of “septuagenarian” in any story, but there I go using it twice in one review), from two muggers on the street. She soon learns, in the worst way possible, that there is more to the situation than meets the eye as Judith bestows on her the duty of passing on her sacred hallow to her nephew. Meanwhile, the thirteen Hallows of Britain are being collected by a dark man with a dark purpose, leaving a wake of brutal murders in his path; and there is one thing the Hallowed Keepers know for certain–the hallows must never, ever be brought together.
To me, The Thirteen Hallows came across as a book with a lot of buildup and an underwhelming payoff. It opens with a gruesome murder, which it quickly becomes apparent will be a theme along with sadomasochism and explicit sex. I point this out in this particular case because fans of Michael Scott’s previous works for younger readers may be surprised. While I myself have no problem reading such things, some may, so consider this fair warning to those readers who prefer things to be left to the abstract.
The story has the fast pace of a thriller, and while there is a strong sense of urgency, I found myself craving more mystery. The plot alluded on several occasions to needing to solve the mystery, but I didn’t feel there was one, for the characters or myself. The story ends up being rather predictable, in fact, so much so that I was in denial for most of the book about the villain’s motives. He can’t just be out for ultimate power and world domination, right? There has to be some complex back-story, right? Right?! Or not. The overall characterization in The Thirteen Hallows was very black and white, and while many people like their good guys good and their bad guys bad, I love to dwell in that gray area where you can’t really be sure who you would stand behind if the tale were told from another perspective (see: how George R.R. Martin stole my heart).
I realize at this point you’re probably asking yourself why I continued reading, and I will tell you. The Thirteen Hallows was a quick read that managed to keep me on the edge of my seat for the bulk of its duration. Moreover, it revealed a fascinating folklore that I had not been privy to previously. I spent nearly as much time reading about people and items mentioned in this story as I did reading the story itself. Like, did you know that there was a Scottish wizard named Michael Scot? Or that there was an actual Hellfire Club?! (That’s an X-Men reference for those not comicly inclined.) I certainly didn’t. In fact, the most dynamic ‘characters’ were the Hallows of Britain themselves:
It was not that the objects themselves were evil: They were merely powerful, and the powerful attracted the curious, and so many of those who set out on this path of discovery were ultimately seduced by the attractions of evil.
I found myself a little seduced by the hallows. Overall, I could take it or leave it, but it certainly will have me on the lookout for more interesting tales of British folklore.
Likelihood that I’ll be back for more: I am somewhat interested in reading The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel, but it’s not a priority. The Thirteen Hallows is written as a stand alone novel, but they definitely left some wiggle room for a sequel. If they do go that route, I will probably pass.
Recommended for: People who enjoy paced thrillers–it read slightly like a fantasy Davinci Code.
Real life repercussions of reading this book: Spent heaps of time reading tidbits of folklore online…