Episode Thirteen by Craig DiLouie

Posted On 19 January 2023

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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


Countdown to 2023 – Day 31 ‘Bottle of Bubbly’ Get ready to bring in the New Year


Today is the final day of my countdown to 2023.  Today’s prompt is ‘Bottle of Bubbly ’.

BOTTLE OF BUBBLY (Your first read for 2023)

Well, I have a lot of good reads lined up for the New Year and in fact I’ve already made a good start on some of my January reads.  I’ve already highlighted the new Laura Purcell book which I’m excited about.  And I have a new Camilla Bruce and CJ Tudor’s latest.  But, the book I’m going to highlight today, is Episode Thirteen by Craig DiLouie.  This sounds fantastic and it already seems to be gathering momentum.  Check out the description and cover:


My countdown is complete.   Watch this space in January,  I’ll be trying to come up with a ‘best of’ list for 2022 – which won’t be easy because I’ve read some excellent books this year.  I’ll also be updating my Good Intentions Book Tag and taking a look at how well I managed last year and finally, I’ll be catching up on some reviews and doing some blog hopping.  See you all in 2023.

One of Us by Craig DiLouie

Posted On 28 July 2018

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oneofusThey call it the plague
A generation of children born with extreme genetic mutations.

They call it a home
But it’s a place of neglect and forced labour.

They call him a Freak
But Dog is just a boy who wants to be treated as normal.

They call them dangerous
They might be right.

One of Us is a powerful story with an important and relevant message that is every bit as relevant to today’s society as it was in the era in which the book is set.  Oftentimes uncomfortable to read it’s something of an emotional roller coaster that delivers a shock filled sucker punch.  Make no mistake this is not a book that you will enjoy, don’t be deceived by the casual stance of the character on the cover, this isn’t fun.  What it is is a compelling read that takes you quite firmly in it’s grip and doesn’t relent until the final page.  It’s impossible to put this one down, you simply have to know what is going to happen and it delivers that tension and feeling of dread that keeps you racing to the conclusion.

Before I go further I will mention that this book may contain triggers for some readers so be aware of that before you make the decision to pick it up. I certainly wouldn’t call any of the content gratuitous, but it can be upsetting and difficult to read.

So, the world here is a parallel world – a world of ‘what ifs’.  Go back to the late 60s and the sexual revolution leads to a genetic virus, or maybe it’s a coincidence, regardless, many pregnant women give birth to a generation of babies with mutations.  Known as ‘plague children’ these mutations vary wildly from a boy with a dog’s features to a child with a face that is upside down.  The immediate knee jerk reaction was to take all these children and place them within care facilities – out of sight out of mind.  Now jump forward to the early 80s and these children are of an age where they’re beginning to understand how different their lives are and how differently they’re treated, just as they’re also beginning to realise that their mutations, in most cases, also lend them certain additional powers, such as the ability to know what somebody is going to say before they say it, great intelligence, or extreme strength to name but a few.  At the same time, the local teenage contingent are of an age where they are also starting to question the treatment meted out to the inhabitants of their own local home.  Some are ambivalent but others don’t like the way the plague children are treated and think there should be change.

Fundamentally this is a coming of age story with a difference that examines prejudice and shows that sometimes the real ‘monsters’ are not those unfairly labelled as such but are the people who blend seamlessly into society, their real natures masked by their normality.

I’m not going to go further into the plot or add too much more in terms of the characters or world building.  For me, this story is more about the message and the thought provoking themes that help to make that message jump from the page in the most dramatic way.

I don’t want to make this sound ‘preachy’ because I didn’t find that to be the case at all.  There is a clear storyline here but for me it played second fiddle to the emotions that were provoked during the read and that left me with so much to think about with it’s conclusion.

To be honest, this wasn’t what I was expecting at all.  I thought I was picking up an x-men type book with young children coming into their own, developing special powers, maybe having some fun banter along the way before developing into a kick ass team of super characters.  What I actually got was an unflinching story about a whole bunch of children, stashed out of sight, treated unfairly, raised without love and used as unpaid labour until they eventually rebelled.

Maybe not the most fun I’ve had reading a book but to be honest with the message this delivers it shouldn’t be ‘fun’.  I certainly have no regrets reading this even though it wasn’t what I was anticipating.  A well written, thought provoking tale and a demonstration of action and consequence that in spite of the violence and horror also contains an element of hope and an open ending that keeps that hope alive.

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