- Thirteen Storeys.
- Jonathan Sims.
- 400 pages.
- Horror/ Supernatural Thriller.
- My Rating: Hellyeah Book Review.
A dinner party is held in the penthouse of a multimillion-pound development. All the guests are strangers – even to their host, the billionaire owner of the building
None of them know why they were selected to receive his invitation. Whether privileged or deprived, they share only one thing in common – they’ve all experienced a shocking disturbance within the building’s walls.
By the end of the night, their host is dead, and none of the guests will say what happened. His death has remained one of the biggest unsolved mysteries – until now.
But are you ready for their stories?
I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Thirteen Storeys features thirteen stories from people who all either live or work in Banyan Court, a thirteen storey high-rise apartment block and residential development in London. Each of the first twelve stories focuses on an individual person and their experiences within Banyan Court and ends with that person receiving an invitation to a dinner party that is being hosted by Tobias Fell the reclusive billionaire and architect who designed Banyan Court and who, hidden away from the prying eyes of the world and unseen by the public in years lives in the penthouse. The thirteenth and final story brings all the assembled players together as the chosen of Banyan Court arrive for the fateful dinner party that saw Tobias Fell murdered in bloody fashion.
Even though there were guests at the party, people who should have been eye-witnesses to the murder, no-one saw anything, no-one admits to knowing what happened and there is no knowledge about Fell’s brutal demise. Half a decade later, the guests have never spoken about the dinner party and Fell’s murder has gained a level of infamy as one of the most famous unsolved murder mysteries in the world.
Banyan Court is divided into two opposite sides. The front of the building features large, lavish and luxury pristine and modern apartments for the high-class, privileged and the wealthy where their every whim is catered to While the back of the building features basic and functional tenement style apartments that are affordable, dilapidated and rundown for the deprived, low-income and the lower-class. The twelve people who each receive a dinner party invitation are workers and residents of varying ages who come from both sides of the social strata and both sides of Banyan Court.
The residents and workers aren’t connected, they don’t know each other, only, for some their paths have crossed in passing and none of them has ever met or even seen Tobias Fell. The only connections that they have are the dinner party invitations that they receive and that they have all felt the cold embrace and the ghostly caress of strange and unexplained occurrences in Banyan Court. The chosen have all been tainted by the evil that is woven into the fabric of the building, the skeletons in the closet of Tobias Fell that have been burnt, left to crumble, to turn to dust, but that are reaching from the beyond, clawing to be let out and the sickness that is seeping out of the walls and infecting them.
Each story (bar the thirteenth which as I have already mentioned is the climax) is a separate strand, a singular thread on the spider web to the overarching plot with the mysterious death of Tobias Fell at the centre of the web. A snapshot of the individual person, giving you their own tale and the picture surrounding what is happening to them, but as you read more of Thirteen Storeys you begin to see things coming together, the clouds disperse and you get a clearer picture about Banyan Court, about Tobias Fell and the reason behind what is happening and why.
There is some slight overlap between a few of the stories, but it is nothing major, just a gentle nudge, a whisper on the wind. Occasionally, seemingly innocent and innocuous sentences that mention in passing events and characters from the other stories have been cleverly added to the narrative that will make you question what you have already read. I know that after writing in the previous paragraph that the stories are separate that I sound like I am contradicting myself, I’m not. Each story can easily be read separately with the endpoint for each being the individual character receiving their dinner party invitation. The overlap doesn’t change that, at all, is only very minor and simply serves to make you ruminate further on the stories and adds a little extra layering and depth to the complete story.
The characters are an interesting and eclectic bunch of personalities who are all human with the diversity and flaws that being human entails. The stories in Thirteen Storeys are saturated in an eerie atmosphere with a creeping sense of unease and a sinister undertone. Some are insidious and offer a grounded and measured approach, are cerebral and use the adage of ‘less is more’ leaving your imagination to run wild. While others are far more visceral with sections that include some full-blown grotesque and macabre vivid imagery that aid in raising the creep factor and chilling the blood in your veins to ice-cold. With the differences in both the stories and the hauntings, Thirteen Storeys is a varied collection of immersive and unsettling tales. The one constant in the stories and this is where, for me, the true terror lies is that they are all written in such a way that you are left with a niggling doubt over whether what the characters are experiencing is psychological and they have fallen down a rabbit hole of delusion, their own fears, obsession and paranoia or if there is actually a hostile and malevolent supernatural force at play that has touched, corrupting and is influencing them.
Without going into detail, some favourite stories of mine were The Knock about a renowned art dealer who acquires a painting and becomes obsessed with it. Smart about a tech apartment which is a fascinating and frightening look at technology, our reliance upon it and how it can take over and control our lives. A Foot in the Door which is about a character researching the history of Banyan Court and Tobias Fell. Bad Penny about a child on the rich side, her always hungry imaginary friend and the games that they play. Round The Clock about two concierges working the rich half of Banyan Court. Old Plumbing about a plumber who is investigating the pipes in Banyan Court and the discoloured liquid that is flowing out of them. And finally, The Builder which is the last story gives reader’s their first glimpse at Tobias Fell and features the dinner party, all of the convened guests and the true events that transpired in the penthouse.
I relished and took a savage glee in seeing the characters unravel and slowly come undone inside the nightmarish confines of the disturbing Banyan Court and I found the dark and twisted delight that is Thirteen Storeys to be thrilling, chilling and thoroughly entertaining.
Purchase Thirteen Storeys by Jonathan Sims.
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