Episode Thirteen by Craig DiLouie

Posted On 19 January 2023

Filed under Book Reviews
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Comments Dropped 4 responses

My Five Word TL:DR Review: Winning format, creepy house, atmosphere


Episode Thirteen is perhaps not quite what I expected in some ways and I think that’s a good thing in this instance.  I think I had in mind a regular traditional style ghost story with things going bump in the night.  Instead this as a refreshingly unique feel, a style that I am an absolute pushover for in more ways than one and a group of characters that are expertly developed, plus things going bump in the night.

I’m not going to go into the plot (which is one of my constant refrains at the moment or at least it seems to be) but let readers discover things for themselves.  What I can tell you is this is a story put together using found footage (whoops, that doesn’t really bode well in the first instance does it).  The setting is a derelict and dilapidated mansion where a team of scientists undertook some dodgy experiments before seemingly disappearing into the ether – this also doesn’t bode well does it!  On top of this the characters are producing a reality tv show that has proved a great success but is flagging a little, they’re determined to make this a winning episode – guess what, it’s episode 13 (unlucky for some) – what could possibly go wrong?

So, for me, the first thing that immediately drew me in was the format of story telling.  I’m a sucker for epistolary style and this includes journals, blogs, camera footage, texts, etc.  I just love this approach because you get a rounded feel for the characters and the action rather than simply following one pov.  And that leads me to the characters themselves.  I’m so overawed at how the author manages to develop all the characters in such a convincing way using this format.

The characters.  They’re an eclectic bunch.  We have the married couple, Matt and Claire Kirklin.  They are almost like polar opposites.  Matt believes in ghosts whereas Claire is all about debunking the stories using science.   Fade to Black is in fact Matt’s creation, as a child he believed he was visited by a ghost and has pursued his fascination with the supernatural ever since.  The element of Claire taking part as the ‘disbeliever’ waiting to be convinced is the winning element that originally boosted the show up the ranks.  The rest of  the team consists of a cameraman, an actress who brings the glamour to the series and a technician responsible for setting up all the paraphernalia needed. What I really liked about the characters is that they all have their own concerns and these play heavily into the story.  On top of that I would say I struggled to find a favourite here and I think that’s because there are underlying resentments and jealousies not to mention egos that don’t always paint the characters in the best light.  I mean, I love this because they come across as flawed and real.  They have doubts and insecurities and these really come to the fore and send some of them over the edge.

The setting.  The house is a great setting.  The team are all so excited to be given access and can’t wait for the creepy goings on to begin.  In fact the house itself is almost like a character.  It takes it’s time to show it’s hand and revealing what it’s really capable of.  In fact the team are super excited when they manage to capture ground breaking footage on camera.  All I will say about this is what they’ve witnessed to this point is the tip of the iceberg, the main bulk of the monster remains hidden and the team teeter on the brink of a huge rabbit warren.  I won’t say more.

To bring this to a conclusion, whilst I wouldn’t say I found this scary in particular I did find it easy to read and totally compelling.  There’s plenty of atmosphere and the conclusion is not only downright creepy but I would say ripe for adaptation.  The writing and pacing are perfect and I galloped to the end like a maniac. If you enjoy psychological hauntings this could be just the thing for you.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks, the above is my own opinion.

My rating 4 of 5 stars


4 Responses to “Episode Thirteen by Craig DiLouie”

  1. pagesandtea

    This does sound like it would make a great adaptation.
    With the house-as-character and epistolary style it definitely appeals to me.

  2. maddalena@spaceandsorcery

    “totally compelling” indeed! And all things considered my favorite flavor of horror, the weird and atmospheric one, which can be much more chilling than your everyday blood & gore…
    Great review, thanks for sharing! 🙂

  3. Tammy

    It wasn’t at all what I thought it would be either. I think that’s why I loved it so much.

  4. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    Definitely going in not knowing what to expect was the best way to experience this for me. I loved it.

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