{Review} THE 13TH SIGN by Kristin O'Donnell Tubb

O P E N I N G   H O O K:

"SAGITTARIUS: YOUR BUBBLY personality and effervescent style make you a shoo-in for 'Most Likely to Be the Center of Attention at a Party.  Straighten that tiara, flash those pearly whites, and dance for your admirers, superstar!' " 
Madame Beausoleil finished reading my horoscope from the ancient book in her lap.  She raised her gaze to mine.  Madame's eyes were foggy with age, though she claimed her cloudy eyes helped her to "see."  I didn't know Madame well myself; i usually came here with my Nina.  Madame called herself a voodoo priestess, and her milky eyes, her whole dark and dusty shop, gave me the chills.  Armies of carved wooden masks stared from the walls with empty eye sockets.  Dream catchers and incense burners and wind chimes hung from the ceiling like swarms of ghosts jangling their chains.
(Page 1, US ARC edition)

With the start of the Chinese New Year, I thought it would be a fun time to pick up THE 13TH SIGN by Kristin O'Donnell Tubb, which is based on the zodiac. For those not in the know, astrologically, there are thirteen constellations that cross the ecliptic, Ophiuchus being one of them, yet only twelve of these are in the zodiac.  (Here's more info on Ophiuchus and the history of where it falls for those curious to learn more) Tubb looked at this when setting the foundation for THE 13TH SIGN.  She writes,

I hovered above the paper, studying this new zodiac chart--this ancient zodiac chart, according to what Ellie read in The Keypers of the Zodiack.  There were actually thirteen constellations in the path our planet took around the sun.  Thirteen signs, not twelve.
" 'When the Babylonians first developed a zodiac chart,' " Ellie read, " 'they rightly included all thirteen constellations.  The twelve-sign zodiac evolved later from the Greeks.  The Greeks based their zodiac on the Legend of the Twelve Labours of Hercules.  In this myth, Hercules has angered King Eurystheus, and the king demanded that Hercules perform Twelve Labours, or challenges, to spare his life.
" 'As Hercules achieved victory after victory, he honored his Challengers by casting them into the heavens as constellations.  These twelve groupings of stars, the Greeks believed, were given the power to control our personalities.' "
Ellie continued reading, " 'Over time, the twelve-sign zodiac became the standard.  The thirteenth sign, Ophiuschus, was forever lost.' "
(Page 25, US ARC edition)

This book that Jalen and her friend Ellie read from, The Keypers of the Zodiack, will unlock the thirteenth lost sign, Ophiuschus, to disastrous consequences.

The story begins when Jalen and Ellie carry on a birthday tradition started by Jalen's Nina, despite the fact that Jalen doesn't believe in horoscopes.  She's never anything like her sign, Sagittarius, portrays her to be.  When the girls find an old, locked book, they don't know what they possess.  Upon opening it, Jalen realizes that her birthday should fall under the sign of Ophiuschus, which was lost over time.  
With the book to guide her, she accidentally unlocks Ophiuschus, bringing the thirteenth constellation into reality...and changing the personalities of people across the world as they fall beneath new signs as the zodiac shifts.  There is a reason that Ophiuschus was hidden, a dangerous one, and people would kill to lay hands on this secret.  Jalen must now fix the wrong she created and defeat the twelve members of the zodiac as they descend from the heavens to challenge her for unleashing Ophiuschus.

I wasn't quite sure what to expect when picking this up.  It sounded like a fun read, and I have a soft spot for thirteenth zodiac signs thanks to my love of the left-out cat from the Fruits Basket series, which I used to love.  I wasn't expecting the action-packed adventure THE 13TH SIGN takes readers on.  This book would make a great video game, in a sort of Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World sort of way, which is what I kept thinking of as Jalen faced each new challenge set before her.  I also like the way Tubb incorporated Greek mythology into Jalen's journey as she defeats each hurdle in a very Herculean fashion.  The twelve zodiacs had the feel of gods among us, which is an element I love in series such as Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan.  It intrigued me to see this spin on mythology, rather than one incorporating actual gods, and feel it will really appeal to readers.

I really identified with Jalen, who never felt she quite fit with her sign.  I'm a Leo, and never felt that the horoscopes described my personality.  I always felt I was closer to Cancer, the sign right before mine.  It was only within the last few years that I realized there was something called a Cusp that affects some people as one sign rotates into the other.  I'm technically a Cancer/Leo Cusp, which actually makes more sense to me, so I related with Jalen's disillusionment with horoscope readings over the years.  While the book is lighter on depth, it's middle-grade, and this works in its favor.  I always love books where learning doesn't feel like work, but a little golden nugget you clutch and hold on to, sharing with others because it's so intriguing.  THE 13TH SIGN is the perfect book to keep its audience's interest and encourage them to become interested in the zodiac, as well as imbuing them with both history and mythology in a sneaky way. 
C O V E R   D E S I G N:

Designer Rich Deas has once again given Macmillan an extraordinary cover to share with readers.  Last year, I was lucky enough to interview Deas about how he comes up with his designs for Marissa Meyer's CINDER blog tour.

I love that this is illustrated; it looks gorgeous, and makes the book seem like so much fun.  Readers will have a great time analyzing the cover, picking out each of the small objects, and deciding which zodiac sign each one belongs to.

I also like the way everything is white on black, with splashes of red mixed in to keep it interesting.  So intriguing!!!
O F F I C I A L   I N F O:

Title:  THE 13TH SIGN
Author: Kristin O'Donnell Tubb 
Release Date: Jan. 8, 2013
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends / Macmillan
Received: For Review

What if there was a 13th zodiac sign? 

You’re no longer Sagittarius, but Ophiuchus, the healer, the 13th sign. 

Your personality has changed. So has your mom’s and your best friend’s. 

What about the rest of the world? 

What if you were the one who accidentally unlocked the 13th sign, causing this world-altering change—and infuriating the other 12 signs? 

Jalen did it, and now she must use every ounce of her strength and cunning to send the signs back where they belong. Lives, including her own, depend on it


  1. WOW. I have heard a little of this book but not as much as your review. it sounds so intriguing although I don't really believe in horoscopes.
    I don't know which sign I am but I will look for it online later
    GREAT review
    Your reader,

  2. That synopsis actually sounds really intriguing! It's also quite cool because I'm a Sagittarius!

    Catherine :)
    The Book Parade


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