Episode Thirteen by Craig DiLouie

So, this was a fun and interesting read.

Episode 13 is the story of the last episode of a ghost hunting reality TV show, hosted by a husband and wife. For this episode, they, along with their team, head to a huge house that was once the site of paranormal experiments run by the government in the 70’s which ended when all the participants disappeared or went mad. It’s sure to be their best episode yet, if they survive…

Craig DiLouie is a Bram Stoker award winner and the author of Children Of Red Peak which I also reviewed. I think a lot of his books are more science fiction, pandemic apocalypse or war themed, but this one and his previous book mentioned above are more horror story themed. What I like about the books of his that I’ve read is that they explore bigger ideas and want to push genre boundaries a little bit. They take a genre trope and play with it, offering you something that’s pushed into the philosophical or speculative somewhat by the end, so that you’re left with something to think about later and some aspects that you can make up your own mind about. The author never tries to be too clever or too cool, he’s just going further into an idea and I think it’s a great way to keep the genre fresh. By that I mean to hint, the book does not end with a neat little mystery solved at the end, like you would expect a haunted house story to.

The author also has fun with the novel format here. We are told at the start that the book is the remaining documents of the filming of the last episode, so there’s transcripts of raw footage, cast journals and email and text conversations, and more. If this was done badly, I would have really cringed over this “found footage” type novel, but it works. I actually felt like it was really fun and it meant that the book moved quite quickly. (Do any of you remember when you were in middle grade, and books like Goosebumps or Babysitters Club, Saddle Club etc, that had sections that were written in handwriting font? Not making a direct comparison, but that was always a really cool feature, I thought) I do have some questions about why members of the crew were stopping to write journal entries while exploring the outer limits of what’s in the creepy basement, and the author does his best to explain and normalise this with varying success.

I have always been a bit curious about weird paranormal things that the US government got up to in the 70’s, partly in a wryly amused way, and partly because it makes for great and slightly mad stories. So, I was happy to get into this book. I do think that the ending jumps the shark a little bit and it all got a bit outlandish, but no more than horror books in the 70’s and 80’s did. It wasn’t a book that really scared me or anything, but I was entertained the whole time. And I liked the little sting og the last few pages. That was a nice little cherry on top of the story for me.

Overall, this was an entertaining read and I liked it, probably because I knew going in that Craig DiLouise likes to genre bend and play with ideas. I knew the ending would not be traditional and I like his writing. I think if you know this going in and aren’t expecting just another genre trope haunted house book, you’ll enjoy this one as well. It’s a bit of a groovy trip….

Read It If: fans of the author will like this one and if you like ghost hunting TV, 70’s paranormal experiments and spooky books that you can debate about with your friends later, then give this one a whirl.

With thanks to the HBG Canada for the copy of this book for review.


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