14 by Peter Clines

14 - Peter Clines

Nate has a dead end minimum wage job in expensive L.A., so when he hears about a cheap apartment to let, he jumps at the chance. So it's in a quirky old building, the building manager is odd, and some of his neighbours are a little unusual. But as soon as Nate starts peering under the surface he finds out that things are a lot more than quirky...


This is a really solid book, which I really can't write anything about the good bits, without royally spoiling it. Let's just say any book that can drop in shout-outs to Nikola Tesla, Lovecraft and also have a discussion about Ghostbusters being american classic cinema, without it being contrived, is doing pretty well in my book.


The first two thirds is an old fashioned gothic mystery: There's something really weird about this building, with it's doors that go nowhere (and sometimes aren't even doors), the bizarre layouts of the apartments, a light fitting that insists on being blacklight no matter what kind of bulb you put in it. It's really fun as Nate investigates, slowly involving most of his neighbours into a Scooby Gang, sneaking around. And what seems harmless fun poking around the history of the old building slowly builds into some real surprises.


The last part of the book heads off into a new direction: The main mystery might be solved to the point everyone now knows what's going on, but that doesn't mean the story stops, and here we take a turn good old fashioned horror, and I mean old-fashioned in the good sense of "other-dimensional forces beyond our comprehension" rather than typical modern slasher-fic.


Loses half a star for the antagonist being rather predictable (and a somewhat easy target of a stereotype). Loses a half a star for my favourite character dying (that's not a spoiler, this is a horror, you know tons of people are going to die before the end) but gains that half star back for the cast taking time out to feed the cats.


But the ending is satisfying, and I had a lot of fun getting there. I will definitely be interested in reading more from Clines, although the authors note makes it clear that this is a bit of a departure from his usual genre.


(Also: The authors note is quite hilarious. Usually they are boring and pointless, but the idea of the author as a kid who thought Land of the Lost was actually a documentary series and couldn't understand why all the adults around him were covering up this vital part of history, just made me laugh!)