In 1902, in a dark room on the fifth floor of Carnegie Hall, thirteen people came together to continue a tradition that had been set in stone thousands of years before. In 2012, Leah Tallent is Head of Research at the New York Public Library. Stoic and stable, brilliant and cynical, she has forever enjoyed her existence among the book stacks. But even with her unparalleled intellect, there was no way to know that on the historic steps between America’s famous lions, she would become involved with a crazy man on a fanatical quest. Gareth Lowery has spent his life searching for the ultimate artifact that he is certain exists. His life’s pursuit has been to retrieve twelve keys hidden by men whose job it was to protect the single biggest secret ever kept. To find the keys he must enlist the help of an unwilling guide who, unfortunately, knows much more than he bargained for. From the first page to the last word, this fantastic duo become immersed in a whirlwind treasure hunt with historical and passionate repercussions. From the strange and eerie Winchester House to the blustery darkness of Loch Ness, Gareth and Leah will quickly learn that the theory of duality is correct: For every bad there is a good and, for Heaven, there most assuredly exists…Hell.
As a huge fan of Dan Brown, quests and conspiracy theories about hidden artifacts I was excited to try Amy Lignor’s newest series. 13 is the first book in the Tallent & Lowery books and I found it fascinating. We travel from New York to the west coast, then to London and Loch Ness in search of keys that can open the gates of heaven. 13 is filled with historical characters, haunted places and infamous characters as she stirred in supernatural elements that kept me spellbound.
The tale begins when we meet Leah Tallent head researcher at the New York Public Library. Leah is a walking encyclopedia who is happier around her research then interacting with “mere humans”. She can be snarky and hides herself behind fake glasses to create a safe wall around herself. Everything for Leah Is about documented scientific fact but her world is about to get turned upside down when she meets Gareth Lowery. Lowery has spent his entire life searching for artifacts to complete his parents work and he believes Leah may hold the answers. The tale that unfolds was suspenseful, filled with dark twists, humorous moments and a dash of romance.
Lowery and Tallent are the most unlikely duo. He is a true believer and she is a skeptic but together they begin to piece together clues in their search for the last six keys. In the beginning I didn’t really like Tallent; she is snarky, acts superior and loathes children. However her research skills and great appreciation for the library and books made me respect her. She is cynical, everything is black and white but as she spends time with Lowery we see growth from her. I loved her ability to piece together clues using her vast knowledge and the woman appreciates coffee! Her quest for a good cup made me giggle. Lowery is driven by his need to finish his parents work and has a close relationship with his sister which I found charming. He is downright smexy, and at first I found him cocky, and I think Tallent’s initial assessments of him influenced me because I eventually connected with him. Lowery’s sister was a firecracker and I am hoping she is given more page time in future books. Donovan is a family friend of the Lowery’s and from the beginning we we suspect something sinister. I loved how Talent’s sixth-sense sent off alarms in her head and we slowly learned about his intentions.
The world building is wonderfully done and I easily slipped into the world Lignor created. It is quite apparent she researched extensively and information was skillfully presented to us without disturbing the flow. This tale has a lot of religious implications regarding all faiths and it isn’t necessarily one that those of faith will embrace. If you remember the reaction of the church regarding the Da Vinci Code I have a feeling they would voice similar protests here. Lignor wove fascinating historical places into the tale like the haunted Winchester Mansion and the New York Public Library. Carnegie, Jack the Ripper, famous writers and philosophers were added to the tale giving this fiction a genuine feel. The number 13 was significant and tied to each of the conspiracy theories and I was intrigued by all the correlations to it throughout history. From the signs of the zodiac to the last supper I was completely swept up into the quest and Lignor made it all unfold effortlessly. At times I felt things fell together too quickly and Tallent’s acceptance of some of the visions she experienced a little hard to swallow. The romance was slow to develop but felt genuine, there is very little heat and this tale could easily be classified YA despite the age of the characters. The tale touches on good verse evil, faith, the concept of heaven and hell and mans free will. The ending wraps up nicely and it appears each book will involve a new artifact, and puzzle.
Fans of the Da Vinci Code, National Treasure, and the Book of Fate will appreciate and enjoy 13. I look forward to reading The Sapphire Storm book the second book in the series which released in March 2013.
Four cups of coffee out of five from the Library Hotel, NY
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