This book should have been right up my alley. It should have excited me. It should have spooked me. It should have done a lot of things. But it didn’t. Not any of them.
Thirteen Days of Midnight is a novel rife with possibility. It has a brilliant draw that makes it sound like an amazing blend of Caspar the Friendly Ghost and The Woman in Black. Pacts with the devil, necromancy, hauntings and inheritance. What ‘s not to like? The real issue with this book is that it just didn’t go anywhere, or do anything. I can see what Leo Hunt was trying to achieve, but he just didn’t quite get there. Everything happens too quickly meaning that the plot lacked depth. And the motivations for anyone doing anything were virtually non-existent.
Hunt’s characters lack personality and motivation. They also don’t react to things in a healthy or normal fashion. While I realise that Luke Manchett, the protagonist, is estranged from his father it would still be natural for him to feel some upset at his death. I know many people estranged from their families who still grieve when one of them dies. It is normal and natural, it is normal to regret and be saddened by a relationship that will never again have the chance to be. But Luke goes to school, laughs with his friends, doesn’t tell his mother that her husband is dead, goes to see a lawyer alone about his fathers’ estate (this alone was completely ridiculous…). The characters’ behaviours were simply implausible. Not to mention that the whole novel felt like a manifesto on bad parenting.
The plot itself seems like it should be exciting but simply wasn’t. Luke inherits money that we never see. He has friends who we barely meet. There is a love triangle that never happens. Some ghosts that never haunt. Luke is never afraid of the ghosts. There is no period of coming to terms with anything. A female character is introduced as the outsider and within a scene, she and Luke are best buddies. The Book of Eight, a necromantic tome is helpful in a three-day dream sequence we don’t get to read about. Luke becomes a necromancer and never does any actual necromancy except some casual animal cruelty. All backstory is given in monologue rather than organically through the text and none of the characters has any personality. And this doesn’t even begin to take in to account the unexplored moral implications of soul slavery and the obvious physical manifestations of violent death and physical abuse that show themselves on the ghostly bodies of Luke’s host. All these elements could have been something, but instead were a collection of scenes that did nothing and somehow led to a resolution with an implausible non-choice. I just wanted each of these elements to be so much more…in fact to be anything!
Thirteen Days of Midnight has the beginnings of a great book. I would have said that this is the first draft of an exciting novel. It’s such a shame it made it to publication in the state that it’s currently in because I do not doubt that it will not fail to disappoint. What a letdown.