The Thirteenth Month (Seba Segel Series Book 1) by Elizabeth Hunter
The Thirteenth Month Book Cover The Thirteenth Month
The Seba Segel
Elizabeth Hunter
New Adult, Paranormal, Time Travel, Fantasy, Magic
Recurve Press, LLC
May 23, 2023

"Time is the most fluid medium in the universe; humans are its most replaceable element."

There are rules for traveling:

A mage must never go forward.

Keep the secrets of the order in all times.

And never, ever travel during the thirteenth month.

Born into a powerful mage family, Narine Anahid Khoren is a time traveler whose life is constantly in flux. Since committing to the order of the Seba Segal at fourteen, she’s spent her life traveling through history, trying to make a difference and sacrificing her life in the present for one jumping through the past.

But while the world in 2071 has moved forward, the ancient order of the Seba Segel have become ever more archaic. The secret sect founded by astronomer priests has passed its magic to thousands of generations, perfecting the secrets of divination and time travel, while also amassing power, influence, and riches.

Change is on the horizon, and some in the order would do anything to stop it from coming. When one of the highest laws of mage travel is broken in the thirteenth month, Narine, her friends, and one unsuspecting professor will have to scour history to set the timeline right.

Elizabeth Hunter makes a big splash with her debut time travel fantasy book The Thirteenth Month. This new adventure has all the hallmarks of a phenomenal series in the making and showcases Elizabeth’s skill and creativity as a writer. Known for her authentic and unique characters as well as fascinating and detailed settings, Elizabeth does not disappoint with the Ethiopian backdrop (past, present, and future) as well as her diverse cast of characters, highlighted by Narine Anahid Khoren. Narine has always been different: a time traveler born to an ancient traveling family, an Armenian native born and raised in Addis Ababa Ethiopia, and a working mage since the age of fourteen but one who chafes under authority. This difference is also what makes her so powerful and a threat to those who seek to retain and accumulate power.

According to Elizabeth:

Narine is inspired by so many women in my life and so many women I know. She’s complicated and challenging. She’s rooted in her home country of Ethiopia, but her family was uprooted by war, so she’s often seen as a foreigner in a place she considers home. She has a backbone of steel, but still tries to remain soft in a world that has asked a lot of sacrifice from her. When we meet her in The Thirteenth Month she’s at a low point in her personal journey, so I’m really excited to share with readers what’s going to happen with her and all her relationships in the future.

The series is named after the Seba Segel who are still revered in Etheopia today. Elizabeth took these historical figures and used them as the framework for her society, the order of Seba Segel. In The Thirteenth Month, this ancient organization encompasses the different mages, of which Narine is a time traveler. Elizabeth explained, “Ethiopia is absolutely woven through all of this book, but most of the mythology I made up on my own. Seba Segel is the Ge’ez name for the Magi in Biblical stories (there were more than three in Ethiopian scriptures) and Ethiopian Orthodox priests still study and interpret the stars to direct the church. Reading the stars is seen as an ancient practice that still holds meaning in the modern age. Those two beliefs inspired me to create a fictional world where star-reading and divination combined with magic and science to create something new.”

The Seba Segel in The Thirteenth Month are the keeper of the timeline as well as an influencer of history and by default the influencer of the future through their connections with non-magical or “mundane” seats of power, skill in reading the stars and ability to travel through time. While their moto is “To do the best we can for the most we can”, human failings of greed, power, and control infiltrate the organization driving someone to change history during Pagume, the sacred week when all time travel is forbidden. This warp in the timeline is tasary, foundational, and results in the erasure of Narine’s mentor. But Narine will stop at nothing for those she loves, even if it means confronting a past that threatens the thing she holds dearest to her heart.

The Thirteenth Month was one of the easist and hardest five star reviews for me to write. It was easy because Elizabeth brings all of her skills and strengths as a writer into this new genre and absolutely nails it. The story is a travel aficionados dream with its exotic Ethiopian setting as detailed through Elizabeth’s pen. Added to that is Narine, a perfectly flawed character in a world that needs smarts, heart, and daring to right wrongs that seem unsurmountable. I could go on and on which is why it was a hard review to write, there is so much I would like to discuss but I don’t want to spoil it for you. Instead, let me give you the backstory which led Elizabeth to wade into this new to her genre. Elizabeth shared, “Some of my all time favorite and influential writers like Madeline L’Engle, Ursula LeGuin, CS Lewis, and Octavia Butler have straddled that fascinating crossover space between science fiction and fantasy. To me, the blending of magic into sci-fi is a place I’ve always wanted to go, and since time travel was the direction I went in, setting into a near-future setting felt really natural and fun. Further, I’m an optimist and I want to believe that despite the challenges we’re facing right now in our world, that a hopeful and more peaceful future is more likely than a broken, dystopian one. I’m hopeful!”

The Thirteenth Month will amaze, surprise, and leave you excited for the next installment. Book two, Child of Ashes, is scheduled for the summer of 2024 and the final book of the trilogy, The Gold Flower, the summer of 2025.