fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsThe Thirteen HallowsThirteen Hallows by Michael Scott & Colette Freedman

I don’t generally read urban fantasy, but this one looked too good to ignore. Thirteen Hallows is an incredibly dark, urban, mystery/suspense novel based on the legend of the thirteen hallows, which I had never heard about before I read this book. The hallows fill the book with an interesting and appealing history that may inspire readers to research these legendary objects on their own.

Thirteen Hallows is told from multiple points of view and while some of these perspectives are done better than others, switching perspectives helps keep this fast-paced book fresh without overly exhausting the reader with the nearly constant action. That being said, Thirteen Hallows is almost overflowing with bad guys, who are so purely evil that their chapters are almost unbelievable. Furthermore, this overflow of evil gives the book an overall hopeless feel; it’s hard to believe that good could ever triumph as the evil has limitless resources to further its goals.

Thirteen Hallows doesn’t focus intensely on characterization. Instead, it is more driven by plot and action. The characters always seem to be running, and rarely are there any confrontations. The nearly constant chases give the book a rootless feel. While the English setting could have been interesting and revitalizing to the book, it whirled by so quickly I rarely had time to enjoy or absorb it. All these chases contribute to the weak characterization as well. While the two main protagonists, Owen and Sarah, are enjoyable to follow, they spend so much time running that the readers really don’t get a feel for who they are without all the drama surrounding them. They seem to have no history — just their present situation. Furthermore, as mentioned above, the evil characters seem are so incredibly evil, they are almost completely unbelievable.

The incompetence of the police is also a flaw in Thirteen Hallows. There were numerous situations where the police could have lifted fingerprints or taken other evidence and discredited their suspicions, but they almost never did. Instead they assumed almost everything and acted on those assumptions. Reading about these inept police procedures became exhausting, when simple fingerprinting or more research into the situation would have cleared up nearly everything and could have cut the overall drama in half.

Thirteen Hallows is filled with plenty of blood and torture as well as sex. While the sex isn’t graphic, the violence often is, and readers should be aware of that. The book builds into a quick, yet satisfying end which clearly sets up the reader for the second book in the series.

Thirteen Hallows is the start of a new dark urban fantasy series. While it does have problems, there is plenty here for readers to enjoy. Thirteen Hallows is filled with plenty of history, a unique English setting, and two protagonists who are easy to follow through their adventures. The plot is breakneck and absolutely relentless and will probably leave readers on the edge of their seats gasping for breath. For readers who are more plot-focused that character-focused, and not afraid of incredibly dark books, Thirteen Hallows could be quite a hit.

FanLit thanks Sarah Chorn from Bookworm Blues for contributing this guest review.

The Thirteen Hallows — (2011) With Colette Freedman. Publisher: The Hallows. Ancient artifacts imbued with a primal and deadly power. But are they protectors of this world, or the keys to its destruction? A gruesome murder in London reveals a sinister plot to uncover a two-thousand-year-old secret. For decades, the Keepers guarded these Hallows, keeping them safe and hidden and apart from each other. But now the Keepers are being brutally murdered, their prizes stolen, the ancient objects bathed in their blood. Now, only a few remain. With her dying breath, one of the Keepers convinces Sarah Miller, a practical stranger, to deliver her Hallow — a broken sword with devastating powers — to her American nephew, Owen. The duo quickly become suspects in a series of murders as they are chased by both the police and the sadistic Dark Man and his nubile mistress. As Sarah and Owen search for the surviving Keepers, they unravel the deadly secret the Keepers were charged to protect. The mystery leads Sarah and Owen on a cat-and-mouse chase through England and Wales, and history itself, as they discover that the sword may be the only thing standing between the world… and a horror beyond imagining. The Thirteen Hallows is the beginning of a spellbinding new saga, a thrilling tale of ancient magic and modern times by a New York Times bestselling author and an award-winning playwright.


  • Sarah Chorn

    SARAH CHORN, one of our regular guest reviewers, has been a compulsive reader her whole life, and early on found her reading niche in the fantastic genre of Speculative Fiction. She blames her active imagination for the hobbies that threaten to consume her life. She is a published photographer, world traveler and recent college graduate and mother. Sarah keeps a blog at Bookworm Blues.