The Thirteenth Tower by Sara C. Snider
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
[Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the e-book edition from NetGalley.]
The Thirteenth Tower was actually a pleasant surprise. I've read some really awful books that I got from NetGalley lately, and was expecting more of the same, which is probably why I ended up enjoying it as much as I did. Emelyn starts out as a servant girl, but ends up as so much more.
There is a lot good about this book. I mostly enjoyed the writing style, found it easy to read, and the dialogue wasn't as strained as I expected. There were moments where I found it wandering off into flowery territory, but for the most part it was appropriate and well-done. Emelyn isn't the greatest heroine, she's not someone I could see myself being friends with, but she isn't insufferable and her story ends up being quite thought-out.
The concept itself was interesting, and I appreciated the execution of the twists and turns of story. One thing I didn't like: it was absolutely completely predictable. It really was obvious what was going to happen; I think I figured it out about halfway through. And while that's a pretty nice chunk of book in which I was in the dark, it still leaves half the book for me to go "OK, when is [this] going to happen?" or "When is she going to figure out she's [that]?"
I didn't like the ending, there was too much going on in the final major scene and yet not enough. I felt like I was trudging through mud while reading the "battle" scene, and I still can't figure out exactly what happened. Also, I don't see anywhere on GR that this is a planned series, so the strange and abrupt ending has left me a bit confused. And while I appreciate Cobbe as a character, I still can't quite figure out her purpose aside from keeping them fed, and providing a little comic relief.
The one thing that has bothered me throughout the entire book is one of the opening scenes: when Emelyn gets swept away to the festival and finds instead the strange creatures, we see the following:
"The men were clad in well-tailored black waistcoats, the silvery chains of pocket watches glinting in the firelight. Below the waist the men were unclothed, their erect penises protruding from thatches of thick, dark hair. Both the men and women wore pale bone masks wrought in the likeness of animals - antlered deer for the women, snarling wolves for the men." (hide spoiler)]
This is the *only* such passage in the entire book. Throughout the rest of it there isn't even the barest mention of sex, the closest thing to describing a body part being Emelyn's attempts to figure out whether the small-folk are men or women. It stuck out in a bad way, because otherwise this book was pretty exclusively PG. I'm not saying it was inappropriate, but it didn't fit at all with the rest of the book or with the narrative style. I would consider removing it in future editions, only because I felt it interrupted the story for no reason whatsoever, distracting me from what was going on.
So there's room for improvement, and if it IS going to be a series that explains the ending. It's not fantastic high fantasy, but it was a pretty good read and I rather enjoyed it.
ETA 10/29/14 - I've been skimming other reviews just to see what others have said about this book. A lot of people have mentioned the lack of character development. Upon further reflection, I think I was a bit too generous in mentioning I felt that Emelyn was well-developed. Presented with passages and examples of her stupidity, I realize I had been thinking this all along. I think what changed my mind was at the end when she decides to embrace her powers and stop being so stupid. Maybe that blinded me to her faults (and there were many). It's probably why I said I didn't really care for her as a person, or wouldn't be friends with her. Anyway, I agree with other reviewers that most of the characters could have been more well-developed, with their motives a bit more clear, or noted at all.
View all my reviews