When Luke Manchett’s estranged father dies unexpectedly, he leaves his son a dark inheritance: a collection of eight restless spirits, known as his Host, who want revenge for their long enslavement. Once they figure out that Luke has no clue how to manage them, they become increasingly belligerent, and eventually mutiny. Halloween (the night when ghosts reach the height of their power) is fast approaching, and Luke knows his Host is planning something far more trick than treat. Armed with only his father’s indecipherable notes, a locked copy of The Book of Eight, and help from school outcast Elza Moss, Luke has just thirteen days to uncover the closely guarded secrets of black magic and send his unquiet spirits to their eternal rest—or join their ghostly ranks himself.
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I was right.
From the very first sentence, I knew it would be dark. Luke, our main protag, learns of his father’s death. In the very first sentence! This would probably come off as depressing in some other novels, but since Luke and his dear ole pop didn’t exactly have a warm-fuzzy relationship, it’s not. Luke then learns that he’s inherited his father’s stash from his Ghost Hunter’s-type reality show on UK television. But it comes with a catch. Luke also get’s his father’s Host of eight spirits, a sort of otherworldly power source.
But the Host isn’t having this arrangement with the new kid. It’s obvious Luke is in WAY over his head. He can’t even open his dad’s Book of Eight, which is supposed to have all the dark secrets to controlling the Host. As Halloween, the day when the veil between the living side and non-living is at it’s most delicate, approaches, Luke learns that the Host plans to get rid of him to obtain their freedom. Only Luke doesn’t so much want to die. And what’s worse, the Host has his mother held hostage.
Now, I’m not sure if this Host of Eight is a real thing, but I loved the detail that Hunt put into it. Each spirit in the Host has a particular role and I thought that was very interesting. The Vassal, the Judge, the Shepherd, Fury, Oracle, Innocent, Heretic, and the Prisoner make up the host. Each has it’s own duty, or specialty power, if you will, and they must be controlled by the necromancer or things get bad. And that’s what Luke is dealing with. See, the Host is unable to harm the necromancer…until Halloween. Then all bets are off! Leo Hunt does a fantastic job of making each of the Host spirits unique. I even felt sorry for some of them as they tried to kill Luke.
Luke is a pretty cool dude, too. He’s just a typical sixteen year-old getting by. His mom suffers from crazy bad headaches, so Luke is kind of his own man most of the time. He loves his dog, Ham, and rugby. When he learns of this inheritance from his dad, all he really cares about are the dollar signs floating before his eyes, the sick cars that will come with it, and possibly a hot girl on his arm. Like Holiday, the girl he’s been fawning over for ages.
I also enjoyed reading Elza, Luke’s ghost banishing partner in crime. She’s kind of the freak at school, so we get a chance to see her come out of that shell. Elza being the goth type who sees ghosts was a bit heavy on the cliché for me, but I liked that her seeing ghosts was ALL she could do. She’s not the expert Luke hopes she is. In all actuality, Elza has no more idea how to control the Host than Luke does. All she really knows how to do is put up wards around her house that keep ghosts out. And she wasn’t even sure those would work.
The pace of 13 Days clips along at a fairly regular trot. It’s neither too slow nor quick. I think this is because I never felt completely immersed in the story. I never got that “thing” that makes me want to tear through the pages to see what happens next. This, I believe, is because there is never a moment where I truly fell for Luke. Sure, he’s a good kid, but there’s nothing really moving about him. That’s the only thing that kind of lacked for me. He loves his mom and that’s a HUGE saving grace. Luke didn’t go through hell to save the girl he’s crushing on, but he does it for his mother. That’s what kept me turning pages. I’m just a sucker for a momma’s boy.
13 Days of Midnight has some truly haunting moments that may make you leave the hall light on. At least for a day or two. I stepped into this book wanting a twisted and dark read. 13 Days delivers without stepping too far outside the young adult category. Told from the point of view of a refreshingly average teen who only wants to save his mom, 13 Days of Midnight is a solid spook story with a light Devil’s Advocate flair.