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Thursday, 5 February 2015

Review: The Society of Thirteen

Author: Gareth P Jones

Release date: 3rd October 2013
Genre: Historical fantasy
Target audience: 10+
Publisher: Hot Key Books

The Society of Thirteen is a richly detailed fantasy novel set in Victorian London. It’s full of illusions, theatricality and menacing characters.

Tom and Esther are two thirteen year old street urchins. They left the hideous orphanage to live on the streets of London but it’s a mean place. They survive by pick pocketing the wealthy folks of Bloomsbury and other posh parts of the city. But one day, they try their luck on Lord Ringmore. Yet it doesn’t turn out how they planned. Lord Ringmore hires them as messengers. Esther is pleased by this honest turn of fortune. But Tom doesn’t trust the strange man. He’d rather chance a life of petty crime. Lord Ringmore has his own unique agenda. Seeking the truth behind the existence of magic, a book crosses his path and offers an insight into the mystery. But who sent the book to him and to what end?

This is dark magic, sinister and dangerous. The story centres on the mysterious book and how it may have the power to unlock the secrets of magic. The characters in the Society of Thirteen have their own motivations for seeking real magic. It makes for exciting reading. The author’s clever plotting and characterisation creates a really exciting ending.

This book is wonderfully rich with language. It’s full of theatre vocabulary, magic vocabulary and historical vocabulary. It’s definitely the sort of book for more confident readers and those who like their fantasy novels that bit darker.

There’s also an interesting interweaving of religious ideas in this book. Some of the characters are fervently religious and yet they act in many selfish and uncharitable ways. And then, there is the study of the occult and the search for magic. Perhaps some readers will be uncomfortable with this but it certainly didn’t promote any demonic values or encourage one to join a cult.

Overall, a really enjoyable read. The chapter length was perfect to keep you reading on. The characterisation was entertaining and exotic, the plot thrilling. The Society of Thirteen is full of twists and the unexpected just like a magic show.

Read it if you enjoyed:
The Book of Dead Days by Marcus Sedgwick
The Black Book of Secrets by F E Higgins

Source: Borrowed from the school library.

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