Cover Image: Thirteen Storeys

Thirteen Storeys

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This début novel from Jonathan Sims is based in a building in Whitechapel, London called Banyan Court. In the penthouse of the multimillion-pound development, a party is taking place and the guest list is made up of people who all have something in common.

Each of the chapters is told from the viewpoint of a different partygoer and details how each guest came to be invited by the building's owner, reclusive billionaire Tobias Fell. The reader is advised via a prologue that Tobias died mysteriously not long after hosting a lavish dinner party. No one knows what happened to Tobias but it certainly gave rise to suspicion.

Taking place in the months leading up to the death of Tobias, the reader gets a glimpse of life for the other characters. Banyon Court also takes on its own identity with the lingering creepy and chilly atmosphere. None of the guests knows each other except in passing but they all share an unknown common bond - they've experienced the unexplainable and absolutely terrifying within their four walls.

In a wicked and ultrasharp finale, everything is revealed when the characters converge and the truth is exposed. Disturbing and certainly entertaining, this horror story has by been written by Jonathan Sims in such a refreshing fashion that it's impossible not to swiftly become immersed in its weirdness and the gruesome mystery. Some of the characters were more memorable than others but each one added another puzzle piece towards the overall picture. With a narrative instilled with tangible tension that was almost claustrophobic, I was laden with apprehension and a strong sense of foreboding. I can confidently recommend Thirteen Storeys.

I received a complimentary copy of this novel at my request from Orion Publishing Group, Gollancz via NetGalley. This review is my own unbiased opinion.
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Not at all what I expected based on the synopsis, but enjoyable all the same! The cover and the blurb suggested this novel was as straight crime and thriller novel, unwrapping the mystery of why billionaire Tobias Fell was murdered and left torn apart inside his own high-rise. I anticipated a murder mystery, and instead, I got a supernatural horror story told from thirteen viewpoints. It initially read as a short story anthology and I found it a little difficult to follow, as the characters did not seem especially connected. As the stories went on and the plot thickened, it became much more compelling. Well-written and very readable, this is horror everyone can appreciate, with a fantastic climax.
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Set in Tower Hamlets, a deprived borough of London, this novel centres around the fictional Banyan Court, a housing Tower Block built by the reclusive billionaire, Tobias Fell. The block towers over the neighbouring streets and is home to middle-class residents who can afford its units, with a social housing annexe hidden around the back and made of substandard materials for poorer occupants. 

Fell has made his fortune through various nefarious and immoral dealings (show me a billionaire who hasn’t?) but has managed to cover the extent of his rotten affairs with a mixture of litigation, intimidation, and charitable spending (again, not uncommon in the billionaire class). In his twilight years, he has retired to his penthouse and is now rarely, if ever, seen. A selection of residents in the tower, and its poor annexe, receive invitations out of the blue to a dinner party he is giving in the penthouse and this is the culmination of the story. Before that, we are introduced to each character.

What I really liked about this novel is that it is in effect a series of interconnected short stories, each long chapter focusing on a different character, introducing us to their lives, revealing how they discover the tower’s spooky and supernatural secrets and concluding with them receiving their invitation from Fell. Each character has little choice but to attend the party by the end of their individual story, whatever misgivings they might have (some do, some don’t), as whatever it is that inhabits the fabric of the building has reached out and irrevocably touched them. I’m not giving away any spoilers by saying the concluding chapters focus on the dinner party itself, we finally discover what is behind all the hauntings, and why these guests have been invited by Fell. 

This is a great modern ghost/horror story and as well as doing what such a story is designed to do - give us the creeps and scares - there’s a fair bit of social commentary running through in the background. Anyone who’s lived in London, or indeed any big metropolis, will be familiar with issues surrounding housing and affordability. Similarly, billionaires and oligarchs and disparities of wealth are regularly in the news. None of this is laid on too thick, however, and at no point does the author preach; instead, the social commentary is expertly weaved through the horror narrative.   

An excellent novel and highly recommended.

4 out of 5 stars
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I've made no secret of being a fan of The Magnus Archives before. Especially on Twitter where I have declared my latest heartbreak at Simms and Alexander J. Newall's doors. Despite my familiarity with his writing and the tropes he uses, I found this book to be one of the most original I have read from the horror genre in a long time. 

The way the story is structured around Banyan Court, the building, the people and the unusual activity of the two is done perfectly. See there are two sides to Banyan Court, one is the luxury apartments for the 'elite', high earners while it's more dilapidated twin across from it, houses those paid the lowest just trying to get by. The story crosses between residents of both buildings, all the while slowly connecting the stories of each with minute details, all leading to the eponymous dinner party they are all invited to. The mastery of connecting all these separate incidents while maintaining a genuine sense of dread is the true testament to the writing. 

How the characters are painted in each story is even more masterful somehow. Twelve people's stories all take place from that characters point of view and each voice is very distinct. I am totally going to go back and reread this on audio at some stage next year because I am really interested to hear the voices for each character! In print or audio, these characters are all distinct, they feel real and it's so hard not to be as scared as they are. 

There is this constant feeling of dread, and something creeping in the background that just won't leave and it's so thrilling. That constant fear of something around the corner feeds into one of the main themes very well. Each side of Banyan Court has residents with very real fears that are so realistic, it almost reinforces the supernatural. One of the stories is about a woman working a night job, barely managing to scrape her living together. Her mindset being that her constant working makes her better than her colleagues. Being that person at one stage myself, I can see how desperation to keep yourself ahead can convince you that you're the good employee. Another, a man taking over a good job on paper, setting up in a home with his partner, only to be caught in a PR nightmare that a large conglomerate company that needs someone as a face for their disasters. All the time, a stain in his apartment is getting the better of him and if he could just get it under control, everything would fall into place. 

The way Simms approaches everything in this book is practically flawless in execution, the distinct voices and inventive structure being the main winners here. The only minimal let down was the ending. We do of course get to the reveal and why these characters are all invited to this recluses home. The ending wrapped up a little too swiftly and I can see how hard it might have been to wrap this sprawling tale of contemporary horror and this was still handled very well but the pacing was a little jarring. 

I still think this is one of the best debuts I have read and definitely one of the best books of the year. I felt genuinely horrified in a lot of sections of this book (see stain story and one about insomnia) but only for how relevant it was. A lot of these situations have frightening repercussions and that is the real champion here. Thanks for checking in guys, happy reading!
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GOING UP?

A dinner party is held in the penthouse of a multimillion-pound development. All the guests are strangers – even to their host, the billionaire owner of the building.

None of them know why they were selected to receive his invitation. Whether privileged or deprived, 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 will say what happened. His death has remained one of the biggest unsolved mysteries – until now.

But are you ready for their stories?

13 Storeys by Jonathan Sims is a portmanteau novel featuring a baker’s dozen of tales woven together by a strange building and its equally strange owner. Welcome to Banyan Court, a place where nothing is ever quite what it seems. Let’s meet the residents and staff in the run up to the most exclusive event the building has ever hosted.

Night Work – Violet Ng works the night shift. She loves the peace and quiet of the slumbering city. She finds comfort in the empty streets and the lonely walk home. Unfortunately, when your home is Banyan Court, peace is often in short supply. Sims starts things off with a growing sense of unease. There is an air of disquiet in this first story that continues throughout the entire collection.

The Knock – Mr Jesus Candido is an art collector without peer. He always dresses to impress, lives in a premier apartment and ensures everyone knows just how important he is. When a striking piece of art arrives in the auction room, Jesus is compelled to purchase it, Jesus has to possess it above all else. It’s amazing how quickly addiction and obsession can consume an entire life isn’t it?

Smart – Donna, the digital assistant, starts to make Carter’s life a living hell. Technology is a wonderful thing when it works for you rather than against. This story got me thinking about all the smart devices we currently have in our home. The answer is too many for the curious amongst you. If they decided they’ve had enough of us, we are so epically screwed.

Bad Penny – Anna has an imaginary friend called Penny. When Anna is bored she can always rely on Penny to come up with a plan because Penny knows all the best games. It’s giving me the fear just thinking about it now. There are certain things that push my buttons when it comes to horror. Creepy children are right up there near the top of the list. Creepy children with creepy imaginary friends even more so.

Inbox – Gillian knows that as a junior law clerk she gets assigned all the grunt work. Trawling through endless documents and thousands of files is no fun. Perhaps learning a bit about a reclusive billionaire and his property empire might prove to be a little more interesting.

Sleepless – Alvita can’t get a good night’s sleep. Even copious amounts of medication aren’t doing the trick. At least late-night television is always there for her. I’ve always believed there is a sense of horror in exhaustion. Being so bone weary you are utterly powerless certainly sounds terrifying to me. Then there is that terrible moment when fantasy and reality start to melt into one another. That point where you can’t distinguish one from the other.

A Foot in the Door – Caroline Fairley is an aspiring writer/journalist who discovers that the checkered history of land where Banyan Court was built could be the big break she has always been looking for. This extra insight into how the Court came into being helps to further define the supernatural goings on. The building begins to feel like a character in its own right.

Viewing Essential – Poor old estate agent Laura Lockwood. Trying to shift 21 Banyan Court feels like her own mission impossible. It’s not Laura’s fault that everyone who comes to view the property leaves within minutes and never, ever comes back.

A Stubborn Stain – Leon likes everything just so. When a strange stain appears on the wall of 15 Banyan Court, it will not do. What follows is one man’s descent into madness and compulsive behaviour. I think Leon is the character I felt most sorry for. By the story’s end he is a shadow of his former self, his sanity left questionable at best. Poor sod.

Round the Clock – Jason works as a concierge at Banyan Court along with his intimidating colleague Max. When it comes to following the rules, Max is more than willing to reprimand anyone who steps out of line. The problem is Max is getting more and more out of control. What can Jason do about his ‘partner’?

Old Plumbing – Janek is an expert plumber, he instinctively knows how old buildings tick. Banyan Court however is the exception to the rule. Excluding the novel’s final bloody flourish, this is undoubtedly the grossest story in the collection. Drains are never pleasant at the best of times and when you add in body parts, things tend to get more than a little icky.

Point of View – Damian is beginning to piece it all together. He’s had a glimpse of what is going on at Banyan court. If he’s lucky, and manages not to lose his mind, then perhaps he might just be able to make sense of it all.

The Builder – And so we reach the main event, the dinner party that everything has been leading to since page one. Our gracious host, Tobias Fell, finally takes to the stage. His grand plan is revealed in all its despicable glory. I’ll not provide any spoilers, suffice to say his ultimate goal is suitably nasty.

The individual stories in this collection bleed together to form a deliciously malevolent whole. I loved how characters weave in and out of the separate tales. Jonathan Sims has crafted a cracking anthology that reinvigorates the classic haunted house story and cranks up the tension to fever pitch. If you are looking for a new flavour of nightmare fuel, then this is the book for you. Banyan Court is the bastard lovechild of the Overlook Hotel and the architectural madness of Ivo Shandor. I wouldn’t want to live there, but it sure has been fun* to visit.

13 Storeys is published by Gollancz and is available now. Highly recommended.

My musical recommendation to accompany this novel is the soundtrack to The Girl from the Third Floor by Alison Chesley, Steve Albini and Tim Midyett. It has a sinister, ambient vibe that fits nicely with the tone of the book.

*Ok, I’m willing to concede ‘fun’ might not be the right word. Put it this way, it creeped me out but in a good way. You can’t ask for more than that when it comes to horror can you?
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An excellent debut novel from the creator of The  Magnus Archives podcast. You can tell Sims is a master at picking out the little details that make a scene unnerving - as well as writing full-blooded horror. This is a really interesting novel as I think it will appeal to fans of genre horror (e.g. Stephen King) just as much as those who enjoy the more literary kind. Very enjoyable and creepy.
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This book is a collection of short stories about people and buildings with paranormal elements. So, if it's your gem, it's a good one. I enjoyed dipping in and out of it. It's thrilling nad well written.

Thanks a lot to NG and the publisher for this copy.
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What an exciting read!  Tobias Fell is a multi-billionaire, living in the penthouse of a huge block in Tower Hamlets.  The block stands on the site of a much older building, and provides luxury living, but also provides 'affordable' housing for poorer folk, who are kept quite separate.

Tenants and those involved in maintaining this building start to experience strange events, and receive invitations to a party in the penthouse.  They have never met their landlord - and the experience will be one they do not forget.

The book begins with a description of Tobias Fell's life and his obituary, trying to make sense of the events at this party.  We then begin to meet the tenants, and each story makes the hairs on the back of your neck rise, as the tales intertwine and the unbelievable becomes reality.

Gripping, thrilling, shocking - a really good read.

Thank you to NetGalley, Orion Publishing Group and Gollancz for allowing me access to the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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This book is written unlike any I've read before. It has a lot of short stories based on people associated with the building. It is quite disorientating. I did however quite enjoy it
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Just a little too bizarre for me with so many characters who ended up being fairly unremarkable so I couldn’t quire remember them. 
I’m not a huge fan of short stories or paranormal so I blame myself for requesting this book. I was taken with the promotion of it but should have left it to others better suited to writing a review.
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My thanks to the Orion Publishing Group/Gollancz for an eARC via NetGalley of ‘Thirteen Storeys’ by Jonathan Sims in exchange for an honest review. 

In the Prologue we learn that five years ago billionaire Tobias Fell died during a dinner party held in the penthouse of his multimillion-pound development, Banyan Court. There were thirteen guests, each unknown to one another though all are linked to Banyan Court in some way including a number of tenants.

By the end of the night, their host is dead, and none of the guests will say what happened. In the intervening years his death has remained one of the biggest unsolved mysteries - yet now to be revealed. 

In the first thirteen chapters we learn the stories of each guest leading up to the receipt of their invitation. The final chapter is the dinner party itself followed by an epilogue. No further details in order to avoid spoilers.

 I felt that Sims was quite restrained in his introduction of the strange occurrences taking place at Banyan Court and the impact on the lives of those involved. In my opinion this gradual build up of tension proved very effective in creating a powerful sense of dread. However, it is quite a visceral horror, so gory in places. 

Overall, I was impressed by this atmospheric urban horror from the beginning and as I began reading after its publication day, I elected to purchase its audiobook edition, read by a full cast. Given the complexity of the story approaching as an immersive read/listen proved an excellent way to experience it.

After such a positive experience I will be looking at Sims’ horror podcast as well as future writing projects.

4.5 stars rounded up to 5.
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Ahhhhhh! Ok, so this is far and above my most anticipated new release of the year and probably my most anticipated debut novel ever. 

Jonny Sims has an unbelievable talent when it comes to ambitious and unusual storytelling. His podcast, The Magnus Archives, is easily one of the best examples of world-building and character development I have ever encountered in my life and his work as lyricist in the nearly indescribably weird artistic collaboration that is the band The Mechanisms was a discovery that changed my life. The multitalented Mr. Sims never fails to astonish.

When I heard he had a novel coming out, it felt like hearing that an old friend had accomplished something amazing; I have never been so proud of a stranger in my life. I immediately searched for preorder options, and when I couldn’t find a local retailer, I sprung for the international shipping fees to ensure that I could have it on my shelves. When I got approved for an early review copy, I was full on over the moon. (Saw the email while taking the dogs out for a 5am potty break and instantly switched from half asleep into ready to read mode).

We open with a killer first line: “Five years on, it’s an all-too-familiar cliché that the only thing more interesting than the life of Tobias Fell was his death.” And proceed from there to eviscerating the capitalist system that allows billionaires to amass their fortunes. So. We start off on strong footing and, for anyone familiar with Jonny’s other works, familiar ground—I can’t think of anyone who takes more delight than Mr. Sims in creatively addressing, dismantling, and just generally poking a stick at the evils of capitalism.

While I eagerly await my hard copy of the book to arrive from overseas, I actually found myself surprised to note that I am really glad to have read this book as an ebook. The thirteen stories in this book are deeply intertwined with one another, despite the fact that I was well on my way to the halfway point before those connections started to become overtly  clear. On multiple occasions I was delighted to highlight a name or date or other specific and uses the search function to see exactly where and how they had appeared earlier in the text. Things that sieved through my memory as throwaway lines or one off side characters came back into focus  and helped to show just how well crafted each narrative is. A paper copy would have lacked that convenience, that sense of looking at the internal organs of the structure —something like what Violet felt about seeing the old freight elevator in Banyan Court,“a towering metal spine, a strange relic of iron vertebrae gradually falling to rust.” Or perhaps, much the way Janek sees a building, this story is “not entirely unlike a human body, with its veins and membranes and intestines, and he often had a sense of how a structure lived.”

Give it a go. You’ll be delighted and horrified all at once.

It’s a party!

Eat the rich.
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Ooh, I love a creepy read, and this one certainly lived up to that expectation!

The book starts with a murder to get your attention, and then proceeds to introduce you to a host of characters, who either live in or are associated with the building where the murder took place.

Each chapter is more disturbing than the last, and the writer has done really well to reflect the panic and madness that each of the characters is experiencing.

Definitely worth a read if you aren't too bothered about getting a good night's sleep... and even if you are, it's still a great book.
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I liked how each chapter was of a story of a tenant on each of the storeys. Very clever. Story and story.  Each chapter was a weird and wonderful story of something bizarre going on in their flat of this building and to finish off that chapter there would come an invitation card to a dinner with the owner of the building. Each chapter was long and detailed but still managed to leave you with questions. Some of the characters in these chapters were people to do with the building : plumper, concierge and even a journalist. 

Of course you already know that the owner of the building is murdered, that's known at the beginning of the book. Why? How? Who dunnit? After reading it, I'm still not sure.

It's certainly different and bizarrely weird. Enjoy!

(Although I have read this, my full concentration wasn't fully applied to this book.)
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I got Thirteen Storeys by Jonathon Sims, from BookSirens for a fair and honest review.




Thirteen Storeys is so called because of two reasons, the first most of the book is set in a building which has 13 floors, in addition the novel is made of 13 stories.

The setting is a block of flats which have two halves one being made up of people who can afford to live in flats which have a concierge, working lifts as well a free gym, while the back of the block is social housing which is poorly kept for example the lift rarely works.

However the flats have been empty for about five years, because at that time the owner Tobias Fell was murdered in mysterious circumstances, this Book tells the story of that event and how the people who were invited got their invertaitions.

Each person who was invited had their own individual story which was told in one chapter, from their perspective. The chapters were self-contained stories itself, think of The Tales of the Unexpected or Twilight Zone. 

If the book had just have been these on their own, the book would still have been worth a read on them alone, for example one of my favourites was a story about  Google Nest or Alexa taking control, which in my opinion was on a par with the problems with H.A.L from 2001  by Arthur C. Clarke.

What i really liked about the individual stories in this book, is the fact that all these events happen around the same time, and the writer shows the reader this by having people from other chapters of the book appear in someone else's.

This is one of those books, in my opinion that meets all the expectations that you have as a reader from a book, a great idea, well executed  and a wonderful read.

Conclusion

Who should read Thirteen Storeys? This is a very well written part murder mystery and horror novel, which if you are into ever of those genres i think you will like this book. In addition to this as the book is well written, it is worth reading this book, as it is such a good book that Jonathon Sims book Thirteenth Storeys, should be read by a wide readership.
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Thirteen Storeys is a cross between macabre horror and an unsettling thriller by renowned horror podcaster Jonathan Sims. In his nightmarish debut, Sims pens an anthology of interlinked short tales, which all come together to make up a chilling novel playing on both modern and more traditional fears. Banyon Court in Whitechapel, London, is a set of apartments commissioned and owned by reclusive and introverted billionaire Tobias Fell, with an odd mix of luxury apartments for the elite and more affordable flats for the poor, accessed by the back door. A sight of glossy metals and sparkling glasswork, the block is built on the site of an old, disused Victorian-era factory. We are informed via an obituary at the beginning that Tobias died mysteriously not long after hosting a lavish dinner party in his penthouse suite and inviting each of the inhabitants or those with ties to the apartment building as guests. Each of the thirteen chapters is told from the perspective of a different partygoer and is a mini-story in itself detailing exactly how each guest was invited. No one knows what happened to the seemingly timid Tobias but it was certainly suspicious in nature and warranted further investigation.

Taking place in the months leading up to his death we see life through the eyes of each unique character. Banyon Court is no ordinary abode as a creepy atmosphere lingers like a dark cloud above it at all times and there's always a faint yet strange chill in the air. None of the guests know each other past the odd glance or smile in passing, but they all share a common complaint: they've each experienced the unexplainable and downright terrifying within their four walls. Only in the genius ending chapter is everything revealed when the characters come together as an ensemble and the truth is unfurled. This is a chilling, disturbing and completely entertaining horror story written in such a unique and refreshingly original fashion that it's impossible not to swiftly become immersed in the weirdness and gruesome mystery of the happenings at Banyon Court. Some of the characters are more memorable than others and differ in terms of likability, too, but each one added another puzzle piece towards the full picture, and I thought telling it from a diverse range of perspectives worked like a charm. Sims is a master of instilling his narrative with a palpably tense, almost claustrophobic, atmosphere and a deeply engrossing and creeping sense of dread.
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This was a great read, enjoyed it thoroughly, great storyline and loads of twists and turns , highly recommend this book x
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A dinner party is being held in the penthouse of a multimillion pound development. All the guests are strangers, even their host,the billionaire owner the building. None of them know why they were selected to receive his invitation. They all share one thing in common, they've  all experienced a shocking disturbance within the buildings walls. 

What a creepy and suspense filled read. The first twelve storeys focus on one of the invited guests at the party and I kept forgetting who was who. The plotline is complex. This is an intriguing read that I can't say too much about as I would spoil the book for potential readers. 

I would like to thank #NetGalley, #OrionPublishingGroup for my ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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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.
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I went into this work thinking of going to be something very different than it was. I have to say say that through the whole book I was confused, however still drawn into the story. Themes of the paranormal throughout. 13 different characters and each character had a chapter that introduced them. This took up about 75% of the book and I found it confusing to remember who was who. If I were to read this again, I would make a note of all the characters and characteristics describing them, so I could remember when it came to the last part of the book Where It swapped very quickly between perspectives. Overall, was very confused but still interested in where it was going to go. However, I was slightly disappointed by the ending.
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