The Thirteenth Month (ARC Review) – An intricated (and gripping) puzzle

Committing myself to an ARC review, even as busy as I am at work with the Ministry exams fast coming, is an absolute pleasure, especially when it is an author that I love to read and a blurb that seriously appealed to me from the moment I read it, which is why I applied to become an ARC reader for Elizabeth Hunter’s latest, The Thirteenth Month.

What the book is about (Blurb from the publisher)

There are rules for traveling:

A mage must never go forward.
Keep the secrets of the order in all times.
And never, ever travel during the thirteenth month.

Born into a powerful mage family, Narine Anahid Khoren is a time traveler whose life is constantly in flux. Since committing to the order of the Seba Segal at fourteen, she’s spent her life traveling through history, trying to make a difference and sacrificing her life in the present for one jumping through the past.

But while the world in 2071 has moved forward, the ancient order of the Seba Segel have become ever more archaic. The secret sect founded by astronomer priests has passed its magic to thousands of generations, perfecting the secrets of divination and time travel, while also amassing power, influence, and riches.

Change is on the horizon, and some in the order would do anything to stop it from coming. When one of the highest laws of mage travel is broken in the thirteenth month, Narine, her friends, and one unsuspecting professor will have to scour history to set the timeline right. The Thirteenth Month is the first book in the Seba Segel series, an all-new time travel fantasy series by ten-time USA Today bestseller, Elizabeth Hunter, author of the Elemental Mysteries and the Irin Chronicles.

Learning new things, even when reading fiction!

Who said that you cannot learn anything new when reading fiction? Because whoever thinks that is completely wrong.

I thought that the thirteenth month was only an awesome Fantasy trope. It’s not. It’s real. It exists, even though it only does in one country: Ethiopia, where the author is partly based. So I was able to learn some about this, which will only make me research more about the country when I have more time to devote to research that doesn’t involve my class (in other words: sometime during my summer vacation), because now, thanks to Elizabeth Hunter and to this book, I am very, extremely curious about this country that has a different calendar from ours and absolutely stunning views (that’s from my photo research for this review post’s cover).

Warning: do not read if you’re an empath in an empath crisis

What? Yes. It’s no secret for most people who know me: I’m an empath, which means that I’m an emotional sponge (to make it simple). And when I was reading the book, I was absorbing a lot of emotions from people who are close to me, some of the things happening to them being things that also happen to Narine in the book. So that made it difficult for me at times.

In no way did it deter me from the absolutely amazing plot and the awesome story woven by the author. It only made it a little emotionally challenging.

What can I say: my gift can sometimes curse me.

An intricate puzzle

The Thirteenth Month is full of back and forth between the past and the book’s present (which is in our future), and if some might think that it makes the story difficult to follow (it doesn’t), it simply sets the pieces of a very intricate puzzle, one that is developed one chapter at a time, causing an immense load of surprises.

In fact, I arrived at a huge plot twist during a reading period with my class and I must have exclaimed rather loudly from the shock. Of course, it spurred my fourth-graders to ask what happened and teacher me to explain, which I won’t do for you so you can be shocked in your turn. Regardless, that was only one of the several moments that had me exclaiming like that after a plot twist, but the only one that happened with people present.

And when all the pieces have fallen into place, I dare you to be able to close the book. I sure couldn’t until I arrived at the last word!

Who says great story says amazing characters

A good story and amazing characters go hand in hand, and The Thirteenth Month is no different. From the complicated and a little rebellious Narine to her very rebellious mum, Anahid, we are in for a treat in the Addis of the future. Their household is completed by Narine’s sister, Genet, a sister not from her blood but a sister just the same, and Genet’s daughter, Gelile, who is Narine’s goddaughter.

If the women take an important part in the story, with Narine’s best friend, Jamila, also in the mix, as well as her work friend Aida, the men also take a good place in the book, starting with Narine’s fellow traveller, Tadesse (on whom I might have developed a little bit of a crush), her mentor, Abdi, and an interesting American professor, Jacob, on whom I have developped a massive crush.

Following what happens to them all, and what happens to those Narine meets along the way, is another reason why it makes The Thirteenth Month such a compelling read. And those are only the characters! There are also scientific things that I would love to see happen!

My verdict

If there is no cliffhanger in The Thirteenth Month, it isn’t to say that everything is completely finished once you come to the last word. After all, it is the first of a series, and one that promises a lot of time travelling and plot twists and more and more and even more. And I can’t wait to find out what will happen next!

This book might have been a gamble for Elizabeth Hunter, but I can tell you that it is one that will pay back tenfold. I want to know more about this organisation and the inside battles that they are facing!

You see it coming, this book is worth at least

Thirteen times five stars!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Book info

Click on the cover for buying options

The Thirteenth Month

Series: Seba Segel, book 1

Author: Elizabeth Hunter

Date published: 23 May, 2023

Pages: 435

2 thoughts on “The Thirteenth Month (ARC Review) – An intricated (and gripping) puzzle

Add yours

  1. Sounds like a fantastic read, Caro! I am also guilty of reacting to books loudly… like on public transit, hahaha

    I must ask. Any romance in this book??? 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, my! I’ve stopped getting self-conscious about laughing out loud in the public transit. Robyn Peterman and K.F. Breene, but also Michelle M. Pillow saw to that with the hilarious scenes they write (or whole books). 😂

      As for the romance, it will be a slow burn, which is why I didn’t mention it in my tags for the first book.


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