Review: The Thirteenth Hour (The Cruel Gods #1) by Trudie Skies

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

When the saints fail, the sinners step up. Cruel gods rule the steam-powered city of Chime, demanding worship and tribute from their mortal subjects. 
Kayl lost her faith in them long ago, and now seeks to protect vulnerable and downtrodden mortals from their gods' whims. But when Kayl discovers powers that she didn't know she had-and destroys a mortal's soul by accident-she becomes Chime's most wanted.
Quen's job was to pursue sinners, until the visions started. Haunted by foreboding images of his beloved city's destruction, Quen hunts soul-sucking creatures made of ether who prey on its citizens-and Kayl is his number one target.
To ensure Chime's future, Kayl and Quen must discover the truth of Kayl's divine abilities before the gods take matters into their own hands. For a city that bows to cruel gods, it'll take godless heathens to save it.

📖/🎧 Kindle Whispersync

This cover caught my eye as I was scanning the SPFBO-8 entrees, and when I saw that it had a Whispersync’d audio connected to it, I knew I had to add it to the TBR for #IndieAugust. This gaslamp/steampunk-ish story didn’t disappoint one bit and has a very good chance of advancing pretty far in the 2022 SPFBO-8 and will likely be added to a lot of peoples TBR list very soon. This novel was very well written with an immersive story with a diverse cast of great characters and a breathtaking job of world building of Chime.

The story itself was just so good and had me all over the place in regards to emotions. It’s heartbreaking, yet gritty with a splash of humor that will have you laughing out loud making people think you’re going crazy. One scene in particular with Harmony will stay with me, forever and I will not elaborate any further on that. Chime is such an interesting place and I love the idea that the author had of integrating multiple realms (picture above) the way she did and the idea of the world of Chime having 12 gods, 1 for each domain, and each of those gods having their own followers with their own unique quirks. (There is a picture at the bottom to show the wide range of character types that in this). The role the gods play in this make it even better, and sometimes darker than expected.

“The Godless represent an idea. You may kill me, kill my organization, but you cannot kill an idea. It will always be there, festering in the depths of Chime’s subconscious, corrupting poor innocent minds.”

Speaking of characters, the characters were so easy to like and hate, and easy to connect with that it felt like I flew through this novel way too fast. Kayl, Jinx and Quen are the main characters that we follow throughout the story and the dialogue that is written for them is exceptional, with how different they are and coming from different gods. Not only them, but as mentioned above, there are a ton of great characters involved within the story and includes LGBTQ+ representation. Some that will make you angry and some that will make you wish they had bigger parts.

There were a couple of issues that I had with the narration by R.J. Bayley. I felt that Kayl & Quen’s voices were almost too similar and was difficult to differentiate at times, especially when they were together. There is an exception to that, when their voices were raised while talking loud or yelling, there was a clear difference. This made it difficult to follow at times near the beginning, until I got used to the story and was able to follow along without issue. The other characters in the story all stood out which is why I was so confused on why Kayl and Quen’s voices were so similar. The other issue I had was the selection of Dor’s voice/style of speaking. That. Might. Be. The. Most. Annoying. Sound. I’ve. Ever. Heard. I had to lower the volume or remove my headphones when his parts came, but thankfully, that’s not a character that’s heard from a lot.
Despite that criticism, I still think he did a great job telling the story and expressing all the emotions that all the characters felt. It never felt like he was reading the words to me, but more playing his own important role in the novel.

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