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Sadie Hartmann's Book Review: Episode Thirteen by Craig DiLouie

Episode Thirteen by Craig DiLouie (The Children of Red Peak, Suffer the Children)
Release Date: January 24th, 2023
I read a NetGalley ARC on my Kindle Paperwhite and a physical ARC
Sub-genre: Found Footage/Found Media
Writing Style: Epistolary format: journal entries, text messages, emails, raw video footage

What you need to know: The crew of "Fade to Black", a 'ghost hunters' like show, led by a married couple, Claire & Matt (who are a bit mismatched like Mulder & Scully) are given access to the Foundation House. This location was home to the Paranormal Research Foundation which did some experimental and controversial tests on human subjects back in the 70s.
Readers piece together everything that happens through a series of show notes, journal entries, interviews, and transcriptions.

My reading experience: I love found media stories. Multiple POVs enable the reader to look at the same situation from a variety of perspectives. The story progresses quickly because the narrative is broken up into the collected materials. Text messages between a crew member and her sister can take up to six pages but can be read in just a few minutes. The author clearly makes an attempt to familiarize readers with every character and their individual motivations for doing the show. They each have different intentions, aspirations, goals, etc. However, given the nature of being "behind the scenes," it does create some distance between the characters and the reader. I wasn't invested in these people or cared much about what would happen to them. This is fine. The epistolary format doesn't bring the reader into the story as much as exposition does.
All the crew members express how they feel about one another which is helpful in establishing a dynamic. I did feel like things take a minute to get going. Without exposition, the author relies on the characters to drive the storyline, so there's some repetition as we get each person's perspective before moving on to real-time events.
There are some pretty intense/scary scenes. Especially heading into the climax/ending. Worth continuing on through all the stops and starts.
My final recommendation: If you enjoy haunted house horror, found footage, strange scientific/paranormal experiments, and unexplained paranormal discoveries, you will enjoy this book. I had fun with it.

Comps: Ghost Hunters, reality TV, Event Horizon (especially the psychological aspect of the crew hallucinating corresponding to their past hurts and wrongs), House of Leaves (similar elements) and The Blair Witch Project.

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1 comment

  • I think this sounds incredible!! Kind of like those escape rooms you can rent. They both must be worked through by the person reading?! I can’t wait!!!!

    • Myra