Title: Episode Thirteen
Author: Craig DiLouie
Release date: January 24th, 2023
Firstly, huge thanks to Craig, the publisher and Netgalley for approving me for a digital ARC!
I gotta admit – going into this one I was very very leery. Why? A few reasons. I’m a huge fan of DiLouie’s writing, but (and I say this with utmost respect) – his last novel ‘The Children of Red Peak’ frustrated me to some degree while reading it. Secondly – I really struggle with epistolary storytelling. BUT – and I do mean BUT – ‘Suffer the Children’ is one of THE best books I’ve ever read. So, I was right down the middle of road for what to expect. I knew I wanted to read this, I just knew I needed to have an open mind going in.
As a side note – and I usually hate mentioning my own writing in my reviews – but while reading this, I was working through writing/adapting my first screenplay, based on my own work. I think that exercise in processing my novella in screenplay format actually worked to my advantage for reading this.
What I liked: The story follows a team of ghost hunters, during their first season of filming their show ‘Fade to Black.’ Having now received permission to investigate a notable location that hasn’t been investigated before, the group heads to Foundation House and dives into their filming and investigation full-on.
DiLouie does a phenomenal job of letting each character breathe and get their footings before things begin to go sideways. We get to meet each of them and learn what makes them tick, as well as see what role they play within the dynamic of the group.
While normally this type of storytelling takes me away from the character development and I struggle to really stay engaged, this one rang different. And, as the story progresses, it worked well to give us different POV’s of events that happen, as well as working as a form so that each character gets to contribute instead of it being purely a singular main character tale.
I do have to say – this story goes to places you’ll never expect. It’s so hard when you have to remain spoiler free regarding what happens, but it was such a pleasure to see where this went as it’s so far away from the normal ‘haunted house’ trope.
What I didn’t like: While the different mediums of telling this story was really well done, I personally didn’t find much benefit or engagement from the text message convo’s between one character and their sister. The other pieces/forms used worked really well, but this particular one wasn’t one I enjoyed.
Why you should buy this: DiLouie doesn’t shy away from telling a story with dark subject matter and this one goes to some truly bleak places. Don’t let the epistolary aspect turn you away – it really does work in this particular case and the story hums along. I loved how this one started, where it went and how it ended. It was a perfect 1-2-3 punch and does leave a glimmer of potential for a further ‘investigative’ piece in this world.
Really well done!