“You’re cordially invited to dinner. Penthouse access is available via the broken freight elevator. Black tie optional.”
Published in 2020, Thirteen Storeys by Jonathan Sims is set in a multimillion-pound development called Banyan Court, where a dinner party is being held in the penthouse. Their host: the billionaire owner of the building. None of them know why they were selected to receive his invitation. Whether privileged or deprived, besides a postcode, they share only one thing in common – they’ve all experienced a shocking disturbance within the building’s walls.
By the end of the night, their host is dead, and none of the guests ever said what happened. His death remains one of the biggest unsolved mysteries – until now.
Reviews like this one are hard to write, when you struggled so much reading it but eventually started to enjoy the story when it finally came together.
My issue with Thirteen Storeys is that it is more of an anthology of stories than one that flows easily. Each chapter focuses on a different character, sharing their experience of Banyan Court. As you get to know each character individually, you start to see the strange things that are happening to them.
I really liked how Sims explored a unique scenario for each character, giving a varied set of perspectives of a haunted house. Some feel scared while others are obsessed, some struggle with their insomnia while others have a job to do, and some feel isolated while others have imaginary friends to keep them company.
Every individual story is interesting. However, they feel very disconnected at the start which really stumped my curiosity, as it wasn’t until the final chapter that everything clicked into place.
The trouble was that I hadn’t read the synopsis beforehand as I tend to avoid doing so. But this time around, this would have massively helped. Had I understood the format better, I wouldn’t have struggled so much at the start, and would have instead been able to appreciate each story for what is was.
Because every story is good. And as every character receives an invite to a dinner party hosted by the building’s owner, it soon becomes obvious that everything will be revealed in the final chapter. But again, had I known more about what was going on, I would have been hugely anticipating this climactic scene. As it was, I didn’t have any idea what was happening until it was a little too late.
Even so, I did love the overall concept of the book. I just feel like I missed something at the beginning, so maybe this is one I need to re-read at some point to really appreciate Sims’ story, and I definitely think that it would be worth another shot.
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