PaperBackSwap Blog


By Carole (craftnut)


From Wikipedia – Triskaidekaphobia (from Greek tris meaning “3”, kai meaning “and”, deka meaning “10” and phobia meaning “fear” or “morbid fear”) is fear of the number 13; it is a superstition and related to a specific fear of Friday the 13th, called paraskevidekatriaphobia or friggatriskaidekaphobia.

Does the number thirteen make you nervous?  For Friday the 13th, here are two reviews of books with the number 13 in the title.   There’s no need to be afraid of these stories.  They are not scary at all.


The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

Sometimes you hear about a book and think, I need to read that.  Then, looking at a discussion you find a lot of people hated the book, so it goes to the back burner for a while.  Then, a while later, you run across it again and are again intrigued by the book synopsis.  Thirteenth Tale is such a book.   There are readers that were bored to the point of wallbanging the book.  Others were captivated a few pages in.   My curiosity finally got the better of me and I ordered this book and read it.  I am so glad I did, as this one is a keeper.

A reclusive author, Vida Winter, decides to tell her true-life story to an unknown writer after decades of making up stories about herself.  She is haunted by a request to ‘tell the truth’, along with some disturbing memories.  She tells her story to Margaret Lea who has her own pain connected with a family secret.  This secret is similar to the secret Ms. Winter has to reveal and impacts Margaret in a way she doesn’t expect, impacting her decision to do the biography.  The story unfolds slowly, but builds on itself becoming more complex as it progresses.  It completely drew me in as it went forward, making the book harder and harder to put down.  The present day is woven into the tale as Margaret tries to verify some of the details, as when she finds the original house where Ms. Winter lived.  There are several twists and turns, and you won’t see them coming.  I am pretty good at figuring out how plots will progress, but this one surprised me more than once.  Just when you think you know, there is something more that changes everything.

Books play an important role in this novel, always a delightful discovery.  The book is written from the point of view of Margaret, who is the daughter of a rare bookseller.  Gardens and architecture provide interesting backdrops for the before and after aspects of the story.

I recommend The Thirteenth Tale.  I found the story captivating, and will read it again.




Thirteen Moons by Charles Frazier

This story is inspired by the true story of William Holland Thomas, the only white man ever to be chief of the Cherokee tribe in North Carolina.  He arrived in the North Carolina Mountains as a teenager to work in a trading post.   He became friends with the Cherokee, learning their language and eventually being adopted by the tribe.  When the post closed, he opened his own.  Thomas organized two companies of Cherokee troops to serve the Confederacy, along with four more of North Carolina white men.  These companies were never defeated by the Union.  Their main battle was fought in Waynesville, near where I live.  Thomas represented the Cherokee in Washington after the war, and was a state senator for 12 years.  He helped secure land for them, purchasing it in his own name using not only their funds but his own money as well.   He was chief of the Cherokee from 1838-1869.  He suffered from dementia (or maybe Alzheimer’s disease) and was committed to a state mental hospital in 1867, two years before he was succeeded as chief.  He died in 1893, after years of being in and out of mental hospitals.

The Thirteen Moons is historical fiction about William Cooper, a young orphan who is sent on a journey into the Cherokee Nation wilderness, his adoption by the tribe and his adventures.  Frazier states in his afterward that the character of Cooper is fiction and the story is fiction, although inspired by fact.

I found this book tiresome as it starts with one misfortune after another.   The story follows the same basic trajectory as the real person on which it is based.   The writing style is pedantic to me, much like his other book, Cold Mountain.   Honestly, this book was a wall-banger for me, but I persevered mainly because it was set in the North Carolina mountain area.  It didn’t get much better.  My husband found it interesting from the perspective of historical fiction, but didn’t care for the book overall.  So, unless you are a history buff that doesn’t mind this style of writing, don’t waste your time.



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2 Responses to “Triskaidekaphobia”

  1. Megan says:

    I love your review of The Thirteenth Tale! That is exactly how I felt about the book. I too saw it, was intrigued, but then didn’t read because some people didn’t like it. I’ll admit that at times it was a bit slow moving, but I loved the reclusive author, the daughter of a rare book seller, and the story overall. Well said.

  2. ANNA S. (SanJoseCa) says:

    another wonderful review!

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