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The Thirteen Hallows    by Michael Scott & Colette Freedman order for
Thirteen Hallows
by Michael Scott
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2012 (2012)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Having thoroughly enjoyed Michael Scott's brilliant YA series, The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel, I opened The Thirteen Hallows (written by Scott and Colette Freedman) with great anticipation. Though it is a decent (and action-packed) read, I have to admit that I was disappointed.

The Thirteen Hallows, which opens a new series, is a blend of horror and urban fantasy. In it, superpowerful villains Ahriman and his acolyte Vyvienne are after ancient artefacts. Their guardians - Keepers recruited during World War II in Wales by an old man with a long white beard, who told them 'wild and wonderful tales of magic and folklore' - are all now frail elders. The old man had warned them to 'Never bring the Hallows together.'

The bad guys locate and horribly torture the Keepers, one by one, not only to find each one's artefact but also to charge it. Judith Walker guards Dyrnwyn, Sword of Rhydderch. Good Samaritan Sarah Miller is embroiled in events after helping Judith when she's assaulted by thugs. Soon Sarah ends up on the run from police (who suspect her of a spree of vicious murders) accompanied by Judith's American nephew Owen. Sarah carries the sword and uses it effectively to protect herself, stirring its memories.

The pair locate another Keeper, who tells Sarah to listen to the sword - when she does she learns some of its astounding history, and of an old battle to bar Demonkind from our world. Sarah and Owen's quest for understanding takes them to Wales, where they find the old man and confront Ahriman. Hundreds die, and they are assigned a new quest, in America.

Though I'm not a fan of horror, I liked the series premise (revealed late in the story) and am intrigued to see what adventures the authors fling Sarah and Owen into next.

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