Title: The Thirteenth Child (Section Thirteen #1)
Author: J.L. O’Faolain
Cover artist: Paul Richmond
Publisher: Dreamspinner press
Buy Link: Amazon.com;
Length: 220 pages
Genre: Urban Fantasy/Mystery/M/M/M-lite
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
A guest review by Sirius
Summary: A fast moving urban fantasy and beginning of a m/m/m romance, which I had some issues with.
Immortal sidhe Tuulois MacColewyn is living rough. After nearly two centuries of life as one of Faerie Queen Titania’s prized wolves and a handful of years as a Roaring Twenties mob boss’s favorite enforcer, he’s now exiled to New York, making rent doing dirty jobs for other fey outcasts. He used to consult on the occult for Detective James Corhagen at the NYPD, but since their highly combustible friendship burned itself out a year ago, Cole hasn’t heard from him.
All that changes when Corhagen summons Cole right out of his shower and into the middle of a crime scene. The NYPD is facing a rash of messy black-magic murders, complete with exploding hearts and very little forensic evidence, not to mention the sinister disappearance of several half-fey children. However hard he tries to deny it—and his inconvenient attraction to the sidhe—Corhagen needs Cole’s help. A persistent police inspector rounds out the team, but when their investigation comes too close to the truth, suddenly it’s their lives on the line. With a powerful killer on the loose, Cole, James, and Inspector Vallimun must race against time to stop the monster out to claim the thirteenth child.
Section Thirteen Series
I love urban fantasy and at some point I had zealously followed several series. While I now just follow a few (Garry Dresden and Kate Daniels), I still overall love the sub-genre. This book is that genre first and foremost. We have gnomes, trols, feys/sidhe, lots of magic and a lead kick-ass character in Tuulois MacColewyn (aka Cole) who is helping the police solve cases. Or I should say he had been helping police till he had a little falling out with police inspector James, a man after whom Cole was lusting. Then James went ahead and got married. The book starts with Cole helping some magical creatures take care of some business in order to help with the rent and then the summoning described in the blurb occurs. With some hesitation, Cole agrees to help after seeing the crime scene.
What worked for me:
Have I mentioned before that I love characters who can do cool things with magic? Well, I do. Since Cole is a Sidhe, he can do A LOT of cool things with magic and I enjoyed reading about it. There is quite a bit of action in this book and the plot moves fast and furiously pretty much most of the time. While I did not notice any particularly unique approaches to portraying magical folks, there were some very cool spells which also were explained well without slowing the action down.
What did not:
Unfortunately, quite a few things.
First, while I realize that the book is the first of a new series and at times not all loose ends are tied up by the end of book one, there were many very frustrating unanswered questions in The Thirteenth Child. This lessened my enjoyment of it.
Related to this, the love story — if you can call it that as the romance is essentially non-existent — leaves you hanging. I felt that it just got started when the book ended, or as much as it possibly could in between all of the investigation and fighting, but its developments left me quite annoyed. There is tension between Cole and James — tension which sometimes resolved in hot sex — but this tension and sex really went nowhere in my opinion. Also, if the author’s goal was to successfully diffuse the tension, I thought he succeeded by the end of the book, but I was not happy with it. One of the ways it was diffused was by a threesome (m/m/m, and I need to say that because Cole is a fey, and thus more sexually fluid to include women). I felt flat when suddenly we were treated to this ménage and it seemed that it may not have been a one time thing. In my opinion, our heroes have enough issues to deal between themselves and they did not need somebody else there, at least not now. I also did not feel the other guy had any chemistry with the other two and plus, James has way too many problems to figure out before he lets himself completely loose with Cole, much less with another person in the picture.
I also had some issues with Cole’s character. While he is well-fleshed, flawed and memorable, I just did not care for him much. I understand that he is not human and as a Sidhe, he perhaps is not necessarily thinking about how his responses to small and/or perceived jabs and taunts should be proportional to what the insult actually was, but I found him to be…mean. For example, he has a website where he advertises his services as a Sidhe. Of course not everybody accepts that fantasy creatures exist — even in New York, where anything goes — and once in a while Cole finds nasty emails in his inbox. One such message says that Cole is not the real thing (paraphrase); Cole finds the sender’s email address and tries to decide which nasty hex to send to this guy. It seemed unnecessary, extreme and harsh to me. On the hand, I liked that the author did not make him all sweetness and light. I just wanted to relate to Cole more and while he isn’t evil, I do not like unnecessary mean people (or fey, in this case 😉 ). Other readers may not feel the same and this would not be an issue for them.
Lastly, I did not like the mystery aspect of the story. The potential was there, but in my opinion, the villain was revealed too early and at the same time the mystery was not fully brought to a satisfactory conclusion. I do not like either of those things to happen in a mystery.
Recommended with some reservations.