***** - THIRTEEN STOREYS
I was really excited to start reading the ARC for ‘Thirteen Storeys’ as I’d been hearing a lot of chatter and excitement about it and boy, it did not disappoint!
Jonathan Sims really hooks you in at the beginning with an obituary to Tobias Fell, a billionaire who built and lives in ‘Banyan Court’ where the story is set. Banyan Court is an interesting setting, part fancy, expensive block of flats and part slum. I would have loved a picture or plan or the building as I found it a little hard to picture the relationship between the two sides. We are then introduced to our cast of characters, one at a time, as we focus on the bizarre events leading up to an invitation to a very special party.
We meet an eclectic cast including a mother who can’t sleep, a ghost hunting journalist, a woman who refuses to feel fear and an art dealer obsessed with a new painting. Each of the chapters hold a self-contained and creepy story which slowly start to link up as we notice a character or event from an earlier chapter be described from a new point of view. I often find short stories quite hard to read and engage with, but this was perfectly paced and I found myself unable to put the book down. Each story felt a bit like an episode of ‘Inside Number 9’ or ‘Black Mirror’ and some of them were genuinely chilling and frightening. I think my favourites were the art dealer, the fitness guru, the concierge and the imaginary friend – these stories really worked well and kept me hooked throughout.
The story doesn’t leave long to tie everything up – we are still meeting new characters until about 80% and then the party begins. I really enjoyed how everything came together however, even though I was fully invested in each of the mini-stories, by the time we got to the party I could have used a few more hints as to which character was which. There were a couple of easy ones to guess (such as the child and the lady with the jewellery), however characters such as the conspiracy theorist lawyer and the estate agent I found a little tricky to differentiate. The ending had a nice moral though and some of the stories will certainly stay with me for a long time!
Overall, Thirteen Storeys is one of my Kindig Gems for the year and quite possibly my favourite book of 2020. Thank you to NetGalley & Orion Publishing Group – Gollancz for the chance to read the ARC in exchange for an honest review.