I knew nothing about this book, or the author, before digging in to it. And reading it on my Kindle, I didn’t even have the cover copy to give me a hint. What I found inside was as much a surprise as what Nate tucker and friends discover behind the door to room 14!
Nate Tucker is a bit down on his luck and looking to ‘find himself.’ His semi-permanent temp job is mind-numbing but he needs what little he makes from it. After a tip about a cheap apartment, Nate moves into a charming old brownstone with rental prices unbelievably low. But when something seems too good to be true, it probably is. There are little oddities about his apartment that have Nate curious. There’s the kitchen light that, no matter what bulb he puts into it, the light becomes a black light. And then there are the bright green cockroaches with the extra leg.
Tucker meets some of his neighbors and, with the help of neighbor Veek, convinces them that the apartment building is a mystery that needs exploring, starting a journey that will pit the brownstone residents against time and space.
Author Peter Clines does a tremendous job building this story. Introducing the characters, establishing small moments that intrigue and bewilder and act as steps to bigger and possibly more dangerous mysteries — the most curious of them: what is behind the heavily padlocked door to room 14?
I was completely absorbed in this story. The characters were not heroes but average men and women, perhaps even slightly below average (in terms of social behavior). They formed an unlikely bond, based only on the fact that they live in the same building, and share their interests in the quirks of the old brownstone. Despite the fact that Veek began the quest to learn more about the building, it is Nate who becomes the de facto leader of the group and leads them to astonishing discoveries.
Clines adds a few topical, pop culture references and does more than offer a nod to the master of science fiction horror, H. P. Lovecraft, giving the wise reader a few chuckles along the way. But mostly it builds suspense. Slowly. Step by step. Apartment by apartment. The tension builds and then Clines opens a false door and lets the reader breathe a little bit before taking us to the next suspenseful moment. This building of the story and suspense was really remarkable. You just don’t find writers doing this well very often!
I do have one small complaint with the book…. The witty banter and snappy comebacks offered up by the apartment dwellers was fun for a while, but 1) they all the sounded the same. Because it seemed as though all the characters were witty and had a variety of one-liners to spout, all the character dialog began to sound the same, and 2) it grew tiresome. Despite the clever puns or snappy repartee, it happened so frequently I wondered if I were inside an episode of Gilmore Girls! It definitely took away from the individual-ness of the characters and while the intent was to let the reader breathe after a bit of tension, it really only served to get me frustrated that in the course of just the one book, I already knew the sorts of things they would say.
But I do like a story that has high stakes, and this one reaches out and offers up a lot of obstacles (from padlocked doors to tunnels to the center of the earth to Cthulhu) and the stakes are about as high as you can get … the future of humanity.
This is a book to savor.
Looking for a good book? 14, by Peter Clines, is a thrilling mystery that blends genres with horror and science fiction in the best of ways and should be on your reading shelf.
I received a digital edition of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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author: Peter Clines
publisher: Permuted Press
paperback, 352 pages