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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
It's surprising to me that the legendary Thirteen Hallows aren't used more often in fantasy novels.

So at first I was excited to hear that Michael Scott (NOT the one on "The Office") had produced an urban-fantasy thriller that revolved around these legendary items. Unfortunately, the actual novel is less than impressive -- Scott pelts us with torture-porn gore and repetitive confrontations with the sadistically evil villains. The whole bloody mess ends up being boring and depressing instead of exciting.

In World War I, thirteen children were entrusted with the Thirteen Hallows of Britain, ancient artifacts of power. Now someone is hunting them down, murdering them, and taking the Hallows. Sarah Miller becomes involved when she rescues an old lady from a mugger, allows her to stay the night, and comes home the next day to find that her family has been cruelly murdered. The police suspect that Sarah herself snapped and killed them.

And soon Sarah finds herself in possession of Dyrnwyn, a legendary sword that craves blood. And with both the police and these mysterious bloodthirsty foes pursuing her, she must find the old woman's nephew Owen, and give the broken sword to him. But soon both they discover that something more horrifying than they can imagine is threatening the world.

"The Thirteen Hallows" is a very bipolar book -- sometimes we have a classic British fantasy, only for it to suddenly swing into oceans of gore and bloody body parts. Kids get murdered. Old people are carved to bits. It's a very disturbing read, but that could have tied in nicely with the ancient, darker tone of the Hallows. It could have been awesome.

Unfortunately, Scott just pelts us with an unending stream of SHOCKING! gory deaths, torture, and Sarah and Owen scampering around like frightened rodents. Any thin shreds of plot are drowned by how incredibly repetitive the book is, how comically pulpy Scott's prose is, and by the over-the-top gratuitous sex'n'violence that never seems to stop. Eventually you just get numb.

Also, Scott seems uncomfortable with writing a female main protagonist OR villain. At first it seems that the villain will be the witch Vyvienne, only for her to end up a second fiddle for her husband. Similarly, the protagonist Sarah ends up becoming a sidekick for Owen. What gives?

It doesn't help that none of the characters have a lot of dimension. Owen is the only really interesting character, since he seems the most real -- and he's also the character who gets the least development. Sarah is a wilting little flower whom everybody treads on, so it's hard to really identify with her.

And the villains are evil. Really evil. Totally evil. They are sadistic fiends who enjoy carving up old ladies just for yucks. In case you didn't get how EVIL they are, they have no redeeming characteristics or motives -- it's all just because they're EVIL. Because all evil people are sadists with no redeeming characteristics! Have you figured out how evil they are?

"The Thirteen Hallows" was a book overflowing with promise, but it ends up a leaking squishy mess of blood, guts and naked body parts. The sword Dyrnwyn may drink blood, but this book will suck it right out of you.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 14 December 2011
Sarah Miller is an unremarkable young woman, working a job she doesn't like and continuously held back by her domineering mother.
When she sees an elderly woman being attacked by two junkies she does the unthinkable and intervenes. For reasons she doesn't quite understand herself Sarah accompanies the woman, Judith Walker to her home and when they find the place ransacked, Sarah offers Judith a bed for the night in her own house. An offer which has devastating consequences for both Sarah and Judith.
With her dying breath, Judith asks Sarah to deliver a bag containing a broken sword and papers to her cousin, Owen.
For Sarah the nightmare has only begun though. People are desperate to get their hands on the sword, and will do anything to get it, and soon Sarah finds herself having to kill just to stay alive.
Because what Sarah has been asked to look after is one of the Thirteen Hallows, ancient artifacts which protect the human world from demons who would destroy it.
For centuries the Hallows have been kept and protected by keepers whose duty it was to always keep them separate from each other. Now somebody is determined to reunite the Hallows and unleash devastation on the earth, and he's getting close. He has killed nearly all the keepers, has collected nearly all the Hallows and will stop at nothing to complete his deadly collection.
Sarah and Owen find themselves in charge of a power they don't understand and can't quite believe in and facing an enemy far stronger and more ruthless than they are.
As they slowly learn more about the Hallows, about their heritage and their destinies it becomes clear that their lives will never again be what they used to be or what they expected.

This is a thrilling story. With short chapters, lots of action and even more cliff-hangers, this is a true page turner.
The book is rather full of, at times rather descriptive, violence. However, since we are dealing with demons and those who would consort with them, it makes sense for the story to be dark.
I was fascinated by the story of the Hallows, their history and the characters playing a role in that past and liked the way it was revealed slowly, both to the reader and to the main characters in the book.
I would have liked to learn a bit more about Sarah and Owen. They were described in so little detail that they stayed a bit vague for me and I still can't quite picture them.
However, this is the first book in a series, and it had a lot of other background information to share, so I hope that our two heroes will be further developed in subsequent books.
I would add one warning to this review though.
A lot of people may be familiar with or even a fan of Michael Scott because of his "Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel" series, which is aimed at teenagers. This is on the other hand is very much a book for adults. If you are, like me, one of those adults who couldn't wait for the teenager in your life to finish their copy of The Alchemyst and its sequels so that you could read it yourself, this is definitely a book for you.
Finally I would like to remark on the physical beauty of this book. The cover is gorgeous and tactile while the pages of the book are printed in a beautiful and story-fitting font.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 27 June 2012
This is truly a great great book! Kept me captivated from start to finish, such a great read. I've in fact brought a few copies to give as gifts as I know that it will be much appreciated. What a find!!!
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