Actual rating: 3.5 stars
When checking back on my notes about The Thirteenth Tower, I notice I had written that it was a ‘quiet adventure. A soft sprinkling of snow seems to have settled on my kindle, hushing the loudest things..” which sounds rather poetic of me (must’ve been having a rare moment!), but it does describe what I felt throughout most of the book. For some reason it didn’t matter what was happening, there was always a sense of calm up til the last 20%. I am not really sure what to make of it! Whether it was due to the quiet, polite and unassuming nature of the lead character Emelyn, or the wooded environs that most of the novel took place in, I always felt rather tranquil no matter what was happening. I have no notion if that was what author Sara C. Snider was trying to achieve through the steady, walking paced plot, but it was a nice change to the high paced adventures I’ve been reading of late. There was a sense of gravity to it, this ramble of a trek, so when things finally did pull in to a sharper focus, it had more weight. The high emotion felt more realistic, not just another octave of hysteria.
The forest creatures were well created. There was a lot of work put into giving each race a distinct background, physique and language (or lack there of). I am not sure I’d like to run into a lot of them, but I could handle one of those fire-lighting wisps flitting about as a friendly nightlight! There was a real charm to all of them, even the scary ones were eerily beautiful in their own creepy way.
It did seem rushed at the end, like that now the cat is out of the bag we’d better chase it til it runs out of steam. The ending was definitely the downfall, it had the underlying work to create some truly masterful scenes, but it just left them alone. The cat just wanted to escape again without a snuggle first! I felt a bit cheated, but I believe this is the first in an ongoing series, so I do hope it can recover some of that lost ground.
I also think I read the word ornery more times in one chapter than I have in a lifetime of reading. There were a few foibles in keeping the writing feeling fresh and unrepetative here and there, but it didn’t take too much away from the novel as a whole.
There wasn’t much pushing of boundaries, it wasn’t a masterwork of high adventure, nor would I say I hadn’t read other novels with similar story lines, but I found myself lost in it. I was trudging along with Emelyn, rather than simply watching it from a distance and I actually read it in one sitting without realising I’d come to the last chapter. I have a sneaking suspicion the author has had experience with being the quiet one in the room, but is always the one to step up to the mark when everybody else is rushing about ineffectually. And then promptly resuming position once the crisis is over.
I think that’s what this novel represented to me, that quiet does not always mean cold and uninteresting, it can just mean quiet. Sometimes, it isn’t the zaniest in the pack that makes the most impact.