Urban fantasy has been my fiction “drug” of choice over much of the last 5-10 years. So I was excited to get a chance to read the new book from Michael Scott (author of The Alchemist, The Magician, and The Sorceress from the young adult series The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel) and playwright and screenwriter Collette Freedman who’s recently been named one of the Dramatist Guild’s “50 to Watch.”
But be warned. The Thirteen Hallows is not for the faint of heart. This is by far the most violent and bloody urban fantasy I have ever read. Sex, gang violence, and sadism are mixed with a deep background rooted in folkore, history, and magic for quite a powerful combination that drives this story through to the explosive conclusion.
So what exactly are these “Hallows”? Items imbued with magical power to keep a race of demons from invading our world. Each item has a “Keeper” who was given one of these items to look after decades ago and has been influenced subtly by them over the years. But now someone is brutally murdering the Keepers in London and stealing their precious Hallows.
Then take poor Sarah Miller, a 20-something living with her ungrateful family and working in a dead-end job. When she happens upon an old woman being assaulted by two punks, she could turn away and pretend it wasn’t happening like everybody else, or she could help. Something compels her to help the woman fight off her attackers and get her to safety. From that point on, her life is not her own and she’s on a journey down the proverbial rabbit hole.
It doesn’t take long before the police are after Miller, following a trail of bloody murders across the city. As her options diminish, she finds herself in the company of Owen, the nephew of the woman she saved. And the two rush to stay ahead of the police and save the Hallows before they’re used to let an unspeakable evil into our world.
The history on the back-end of this adventure is compelling. There are threads woven through Christianity, World War II, myths and legends that tie everything to some interesting characters in the present day. I don’t want to spoil the discovery process, but where the violence put me off a few times, the story kept pulling me back in.
I’ll be curious to see where Scott and Freedman take the story in the next book. If you’re a fan of darker urban fantasy, The Thirteen Hallows should be right up your alley. There’s definitely more in store for Sarah and Owen as they get further wrapped up in the saga of the Hallows!
This article first appeared at BlogCritics.org here.
- Audioslice: The Thirteen Hallows by Michael Scott and Colette Freedman (tor.com)
- Review: The Thirteen Hallows by Michael Scott and Colette Freedman (underwordsblog.com)
- Interview with Michael Scott & Colette Freedman, coauthors of The Thirteen Hallows (underwordsblog.com)
- Michael Scott and Colette Freedman Explain the Mythology of The Thirteen Hallows (tor.com)