Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Book: The XIIIth Hour at Duskland by Isis Sousa

I received a copy of The XIIIth Hour at Duskland from the author in exchange for my honest review.

One night Leonhard finds an unconscious and weak woman in the forest who has no recollection of who she is. He takes her round his property, introducing her to its inhabitants, a pair of Siamese twins, a clumsy Italian barber, and the slightly mysterious Dr Charles. At the XIIIth hour, the woman returns to the mortal world and to her death bed. Once she returns to Duskland once more, she finds that each of the characters living there has had a part to play in her life and must now reveal it to her.

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The XIIIth Hour at Duskland is a short novella that focuses on the paranormal elements in the form of what happens after death. I wouldn't like to put a label on what the characters are, neither ghosts nor angels really cuts it, maybe the best explanation would be that they were souls. However I do have my suspicions over a certain character and whether or not they are a more sinister paranormal being, the questioning of this hopefully means that Sousa will be writing more tales of Duskland!

As it is a short story there isn't a whole lot of character development, though the characters that Sousa has created are fully formed and have their own personalities, which some writers of novellas and short stories can seem to forget. Part of what helps this is that Sousa kept her cast of characters small, helping as she could spend a decent amount of words on each character so allowing at least some degree of development.

Something that did confuse me slightly was the need for quotation marks around Elisa's name for the first half of the novella. I understand that she had no recollection of who she was, hence the quotation marks, but the reader didn't have any idea either, so Sousa could have just referred to her as 'she'. After Elisa remembered who she was the quotation marks completely disappear, meaning that it is at least clear to the reader that her memory has completely returned.

The XIIIth Hour at Duskland is a good debut novella from Sousa, and shows great promise for future installments.