Gothic Fiction, Pagham-verse, thirteenth

SpookyMonth Showcase ~ THIRTEENTH

This novel leans into the humour more, so if you enjoyed the dark sitcom feel of THE CROWS but you want more one-liners and more of the family themselves, this novel introduces Wes Porter as a main character. Expect some eldritch playboy lifestyle drama, front row seats to a live snuff show, one-liners as defence mechanisms, estranged family to grudging, bickering team, and dealing with generational trauma incredibly badly.

THE CROWS was Ricky’s story: this one is really Katy Porter’s, who appeared in Chapter 4 The Grande Dame with one line of dialogue. Katy is an angry teen coming to terms with being the Chosen One, weaponised by her beloved grandmother, and feared/abused by the rest of the family. What Katy is “chosen” to be is the family failsafe; the thirteenth child of a thirteenth child will metamorphose into an unstoppable eldritch god-creature that hunts down family members and devours them whole, working through a List in their head. Except Katy doesn’t know how to control who goes on the List, or who comes off, and she certainly doesn’t know how to manage her powers. “Luckily”, Ricky is there to help with that, and her oldest brother Wesley, the insanity-inducing playboy torn between his family duties and his preferred lifestyle of leisure.

Cue absolute screaming chaos as Katy tries to outrun her destiny with the family wanting her dead, Wes being unable to make up his mind whose side he’s on, and Ricky stepping in to ‘mentor’ her and ensure the destiny she never wanted or asked for is fulfilled…

It’s possible to read this one first with THE CROWS as a prequel, but technically this is Book 2!

The paperback is available from Amazon only

Influences and Comps (some overlap with THE CROWS)


  • dysfunctional family tries to survive threat to their existence
  • the family secret is a relative everyone pretends doesn’t exist as much as possible
  • “Chosen One” (to be transformed into eldritch god)
  • angry teen abducted then mentored by grumpy killer (no romance, more Arya and The Hound of GoT tv series type dynamics)
  • drug-addled playboy fucks up and (kinda) grows up
  • twisted history with kissing cousins ~ part of Gothic-vibe inbred family of monsters
  • horrors that induce madness
  • horrors from the great beyond with Plans and Schemes
  • younger generation rebelling against the destiny decided for them

THIRTEENTH – from £3.99

This was so much fun! It’s got all the hassle of being part of a large extended family – awful cousins, annoying siblings, bossy uncles – except they’ve got tentacles/fangs/slime and think nothing of a little light murder. And cannibalism (but it’s for practical reasons, so that’s okay). The three main characters bicker hilariously through all manner of weirdness, and the odd attempted murder, and there’s oodles of ickiness and monsters. Horror aside, Katy, Wes and Ricky are all great characters, each with their own worries and pressures, and somehow they make a decent team, even if their relationships with each other are complicated. That’s probably the strongest aspect of this book; families are complex, and the shared histories and unforgotten slights are really strong here, but they don’t get in the way of the story, and actually bind the characters together. Loved it.

~ 5 star Goodreads Review

C.M. Rosens is in a league of her own, something I say with both love and enthusiasm. In The Crows, she grabbed every gothic horror trope she could find, put them through the blender, and somehow made me hate Carrie’s painfully mundane ex-boyfriend more than the literally-a-murderous-cannibal neighbour. In Thirteenth, she takes the idea of the Chosen One by the horns and then covers it in eldritch tentacles and teenage rage. It was an absolute joy to read.

Our protagonist is Katy Porter (she’s a cousin of Ricky Porter, a main character in The Crows who eats people and tells the future, yet I still want to just wrap him in blankets and check he’s okay). She’s the family’s chosen one. The problem with this is that, when your family are the descendants of a nameless dimension-bending tentacled eldritch god who kill and/or curse each other over things as petty as flower shows, you’re not going to be chosen for anything good. So like any sensible seventeen-year-old labouring under an ominous prophecy, Katy decides to run away.

This does not go to plan.

And so, Katy Porter finds herself stuck living with Ricky, considered creepy even by her family’s standards, and Fairwood House, which <spoilers for THE CROWS>. Her elder brother Wes is also involved, although he is in turns terrified and incoherent (in no small part due to one of the uncles blackmailing him into testing drugs). This story is, in many ways, a story about family expectations: it’s just that in this family, three generations back some sisters decided that summoning an eldritch god and having its babies was an excellent plan. Katy would really like to be focusing on college and not the fact that her dad is a serial killer and she has some kind of horrible destiny, Ricky would like to make friends but doesn’t know how, Carrie/Fairwood is a little tired of trying to explain ethics to Ricky, and Wes would like it if anyone could remember his face and also could his family members stop threatening to eat his partners please? And somehow between the four of them they need to figure out if there’s any way for Katy to be in control of her powers, rather than controlled by them.

It’s a brilliant story. Somehow, in the midst of some very gory transformation sequences and a lot of murder, it is incredibly emotionally touching. There’s an unexpected gentleness at times: the characters are trying to be friends, however clumsily (Ricky and Carrie/Fairwood is one of my favourite examples of this). C.M. Rosens also has a delightful sense of humour that had me cackling in public. As in The Crows, the mundane is mixed in with the magical with stunning results, and the characters are complicated and messy and weirdly loveable. Pagham-On-Sea continues to have strangely accurate small town vibes, and the ending was so satisfying that I nearly screamed (I was, yet again, reading this in public so I tried to restrain myself).

Rating: read this, don’t ask whose heart is up the chimney.

~ Review by Meredith Debonnaire, on

The paperback is available from Amazon only

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