Cover Image: Thirteen Storeys

Thirteen Storeys

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

Ahhhhhh! Ok, so this is far and above my most anticipated new release of the year and probably my most anticipated debut novel <i>ever</i>. 

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.
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
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.)
Was this review helpful?
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.


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.
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
This was a great read, enjoyed it thoroughly, great storyline and loads of twists and turns , highly recommend this book x
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
Residents of the controversial Banyan Court are suffering from unexplained events. Feelings of being watched, mysterious stains on walls that can’t be cleaned, taps that run red all plague the residents in both the luxury apartments and the affordable housing section of Banyan Court. As these events intensify, threatening the physical and mental health of the residents, they receive an invitation to a dinner party hosted by Banyan Court’s enigmatic creator, Tobias Fell. Does he have the answers to what is happening in his building?
Thirteen Storeys is a collection of thirteen short stories focused around some of the residents and workers of Banyan Court who are struggling with malevolent forces in their lives. This is different from what the blurb led me to believe. It caught me off-guard at first, but once I understood the book’s format, I was drawn in. 
For me, the collection had a few stand-out stories that gripped me. The first story in the group, Night Work, uses the setting of London at night, empty and silent, to build suspense as Victoria Ng begins seeing strange things coming home first thing in the morning. 
Bad Penny gives us a child’s point of view with Anna and her imaginary friend, Penny. It is paired with Sleepless, where some of the events are witnessed by an adult. This pairing is particularly unsettling as we readers know something the characters don’t. 
Round the Clock takes a different approach as we see the possible consequences for the residents if they don’t find an answer to their problems. It also gives us some answers to things other residents have witnessed as the main character in this story, Jason, pops up frequently throughout.
Other stories did not fare as well. Ghost stories work on the build-up of suspense, removing all of our logical explanations for unusual and frightening events until we are left with the unthinkable as the only possible reason. It worked well in Night Work and Round the Clock, but as other stories followed the same pattern, it lessened their impact and became a little formulaic. There are also three characters whose name begins with D; David, Damian, and Diego. Damian and Diego are similar in how they appear in the book, alone and at strange times. Keeping track of them and which D-character was who broke the flow of my reading. 
Thirteen Storeys is a long book, lots of work goes into describing the lives of the residents as well as their experiences and changes because of Banyon Court. However, the ending felt rushed and cliched. The twelve stories before focusing on one person while the thirteenth jumps between all the characters, including Tobias Fell. This change in pace and style is at odds with the atmospheric build of tension and suspense of the previous stories. 
Thirteen Storeys was an unusual read, and for fans of horror looking for something different, then I would recommend giving it a go.
Was this review helpful?
What scares you? Its probably different to what scares me. Our lives and backgrounds influence our fears. And that may possibly explain why some groups of society will never care for others. Any community is a strange group of social statuses all alongside one another and potentially working against each other on purpose or not. Fear may not really make companions of us all. Jonathan Sims explores our modern fears and what this tells us about life in the twenty first century in the brilliant Thirteen Storeys a thrilling interlinked yet tale of horror that really understands why life now can be so horrifying even without the supernatural.

Our story is set in Banyan Court in Whitechapel, London a strange mix of living accommodation for the ultra-wealthy and the poorest paid. We are told at the start that its owner the mysterious billionaire Tobias Fell died horribly after a party with thirteen guests for which no one has been punished. It’s a strange tale ending a strange man’s life; but no one knows what really happened. But finally, dear reader we’re going to find out. The book explores the months leading up to Fell’s death and the various inhabitants whose lives are changed thanks to Banyan Court that led to an invitation to Mr Fell’s last event. Banyan Court isn’t a normal place and within each room or those who work for it there is something eerie and dangerous lying in wait.

I loved this both for its ambition and huge amount of variety. It is an interesting portmanteau horror novel where we get thirteen tales of immense variety not just focusing on different characters but different types of horrors but as we progress we start to see an interlink both regards setting but also characters and causes. We cross the lives of a night shift worker losing her energy and starting to see shadowy figures in the corridors; an arrogant art dealer whose latest purchase takes over his life, a little girl whose imaginary friend is getting very dangerous and a security guard whose shift colleague is getting increasingly angry and edgy. We go through a host of stand out characters from different levels of society and for each Banyan Court plays on a fear that is connected to their lives. On pure plotting it’s wonderfully varied and creates a giant web of tales suggesting something else is going on.

What really impresses me is the way each tale’s voice changes in third person. Sims adjusts style for each type of story which means you never get a feeling of reading the same kind of tale again (I love MR James but how many haunted objects can you find in one go?) so Sims creates different types of tales. Some feel familiar to us and others do not – scary children and objects are classics but adds a lot of ones including a strange late night talk show that knows far too much about a viewer’s life; the immigrant plumber finding out what a building has been built with; and a particularly memorable encounter between an exec and his new health app AI that wants to take his life over. Each tale really set ups a very different character we quickly get a handle on before they are taken on a trip outside normal reality and pushed way too far. Sims brilliantly builds the strangeness of the encounters, the tension of something coming and then a satisfying conclusion in each tale.

I absolutely loved though that this was a horror story that has a unifying theme and as we explore these lives in Banyan Court twenty first century capitalism is shown to be pulling the strings. The characters reflect people trapped in jobs that influence their fears - a night shift worker who never sees daylight and now sees ghosts, the executive who airbrushes PR nightmares finds a stain in his home he cannot remove or an estate agent who evicts those tenants who cannot pay now being haunted by a dead tenant. I don’t think it’s by accident that above all this chaos we have a ruthless billionaire looking down on his inhabitants making his own plans. Abuse of power and using people for own needs comes across as a unifying theme and we see those who make themselves cogs of that machine happily trickle down the pain ever on to fee the machine. It is done subtly but makes the wider story that gets wrapped up in a memorable bloody finale hugely impressive.

If you are familiar with Sims work in the podcast The Magnus Archives you won’t be surprised that this novel has the same level of quality and inventiveness. For new fans and I think this book will have many be prepared for a thrilling walk through strange rooms and corridors and prepare to face many fears - you may be lucky and escape. An excellent example of twenty first century UK horror and I look forward to more from Sims in the future.
Was this review helpful?
Rated 3.5 really.

First off...DISCLAIMER: I requested this title on NetGalley. Thanks to Gollancz (Orion Publishing Group) for providing a temporary ecopy. This didn't influence my review in any way. Also, in case you don't know, the author is the writer and narrator for the Magnus Archives podcast.


Thirteen Storeys is, for all purposes, a novel comprised of a series of short stories, each one focusing on one of the tenants of a reclusive billionaire's building, with only the last chapter bringing the whole cast together. I have to admit that short stories can be hit or miss for me, but when there's a connection of sorts between them and they ultimately form a bigger picture, I'm hooked. In this case, I'm also pleased to say that most of the stories, while building on familiar haunting tropes, either put a spin on them or bring something new to the table. Granted, not all the characters are what I would call memorable, and very few of them are genuinely likeable (though most aren't supposed to be); but the crescendo of tension and the clever (if sometimes little) twists in their stories (not to mention, the interplay of associations between them - though most you only manage to catch on a second read) largely make up for that. Also, while all the stories end with a hook to the last chapter, they're remarkably self-contained - especially since the basic reason behind the hauntings becomes apparent early on (but the final chapter will still hold a few surprises in that department). 


If the single stories (or, well, storeys) hold their own quite strongly, the book is less successful in its picking up the threads. While the tension and horror in the tenants chapters were handled gracefully (OK, it may sound like a weird adverb to use, but until the real shit hits the fan, even the horror has a certain finesse here), the social commentary that permeates the last one is more in your face, and while I commend Sims for making a stand (or a point at least), the final denouement could have used more subtlety. Also, even for a book with the supernatural at its core, what happens in the end requires some suspension of disbelief, especially because a certain event is a bit convenient and the rules are unclear - and yes, even the supernatural should have rules, or anything goes. That being said (and the less the better, since it would be so easy to spoil the whole thing), Thirteen Storeys has a lot going for it, and everyone who's into supernatural/psychological horror (and ghosts!) will get a kick out of this story.

P.S.: I know we're not supposed to notice typos and such in an ARC (and to be honest, there were only a handful here), and even when a side character had her name changed for the space of a paragraph, I didn't pay it much heed...but then I stumbled onto the usual instance of "who's" instead of "whose" ("Who's skeleton?"), and that I couldn't unsee 😣.
Was this review helpful?
I struggled with this book because I do not enjoy short stories. I struggle to get fully invested in them. If I had realised that this book was largely  made up in this way I would have not requested it, but that is my fault, and other more patient readers may enjoy the format. It was certainly different, and I feel that if I review it based on what I like it is not being fair so I would say if you are open to a build up of short stories and enjoy getting to know the characters like this this will be great for you. As such I will give the book 4 stars, it is not a bad book .
Was this review helpful?
I'm a big fan of Jonathan Sims's creepy podcast drama, The Magnus Archives, so I was excited to be offered a chance by Netgalley to read his debut novel. Like The Magnus Archives, Thirteen Storeys consists of a number of linked narratives; in this case the connection is a London building, a mixture of shiny glass and metal bolted on to the remnants of a Victorian factory: half luxury apartments and half 'affordable' housing accessed by a 'poor door'.

The novel begins with a newspaper article about the mysterious and gruesome death of the building's owner at a party he has hosted; the party's guests are a strangely disparate group and the rest of the book tells their stories and how they came to be invited.

Sims is great at plunging you into the different lives of his characters, including a young woman revelling in her night-shift office job, a little girl with a frightening imaginary friend, and an art collector who becomes increasingly obsessed with a painting he has acquired.

Thirteen Storeys is very creepy book with some gruesome scenes and frightening moments, this combined with the different characters and a keen social conscience makes for a very enjoyable read.
Was this review helpful?
Well... this was a little different - and in a good way. Set in a residential block in London - catering for both the haves and the have nots. Commissioned and owned by billionaire (and then some) Tobias Fell who himself resides in the penthouse. At the start we know he is now dead, the circumstance around this, well, a bit up in the air. We then go back and meet a bunch of characters who all have some connection to the building in the form of short stories, all culminating in the receipt of an invitation to a dinner in the penthouse. Some are residents - from both "sides" of the building, others are connected by trade or work. Each story takes an element of their "personality" and, well, it's hard to describe without going into too much detail and that would spoil things. Suffice to say, nasty things happen, mostly in some form of horrific supernatural way...
Anyway... at the end of the book, after we have met each character, there's a dinner party where they are all asked to do something in exchange for their lives... and really, that's all I want to say about that.
On the face of things, it's a book of short stories. But it also isn't that at all as they are all connected in some way to what is hinted at in the beginning and expanded on in the final chapters. It's also an extremely hard book to review as it is nothing like anything I have ever had to review before and I am really struggling to formulate my thoughts on what I read.
I do know one thing though - I really did enjoy what I read. It was unique and novel and held my attention firmly throughout, leaving me satisfied at its conclusion. Obviously I enjoyed some of the "shorts" more than others as they are all completely different but the fact that they all connected was what really made the book on the whole so much more than the sum of its parts. Especially when we got to the crux of it all.
It's gory and ghostly and also quite poignant throughout, especially at the end. If you like your horror with a moralistic bent served up with a supernatural element then you might want to give this a spin.
My thanks go to the Publisher and Netgalley for the chance to read this book
Was this review helpful?
I was so excited by the premise but I have to say I got way too confused by the many characters and their back stories to fully appreciate this intricate story. I felt like I needed to make notes! A cast list would have been really useful to refer to!
The denouement was very late in coming but was well executed.
Was this review helpful?
Thankyou to NetGalley and the publisher for allowing me an advanced reading copy of this book! 
This is not the usual type of book i go for, but i did really enjoy it! It definitely gave me chills and let the imagination wonder to make me feel as though i wasn’t alone when reading it, so if you’re wanting to be spooked by a book then this is definitely it.
I also like the message it sent, how the choices you make, even through proxy’s, affect lives and that can definitely come back to haunt you.
The style of meeting one main character per chapter was a good choice as it really let the reader know the intricacies of their personal story, but i did then find that the characters we met near the beginning i had a hard time placing when we met them again towards the end (their names mainly, not their storylines). 
Definitely worth a read!
Was this review helpful?
Superb Cover!
As for the story I am not 100% sure what I just read or how much enjoyed or was baffled by it
I will try and explain
Banyon Court is an affluent residential block in London, the penthouse is lived in by Tobias, a multi billionaire who commissioned and owns the whole building, there is also a not so affluent side ( at the back ) where the ‘poor’ people live, the book is then a set of short stories based around people who live there or are associated with the building ie a plumber, the concierges, an estate agent and tells their stories ( some more interesting than others ) and how they all link in to this Tobias chap, (who by the way is dodgy via various corporate wrong doings ) and then how strange things start to happen to them all, ghostly, horrific things and all culminates in an invitation being received by each of them to attend a dinner in his penthouse, at this dinner unspeakably gross things are asked of them all in a bid to live and if not they die and then....well, not saying anymore
I think that’s what I just read
It’s intriguing, disturbing, repulsive in parts, annoying in others and at times disorientating 
But out of all those words Intriguing is the main one
I dont think, in fact I know it wont be, a book for everyone, more than that I am not quite sure what to say on it

For the ‘difference’ of the book it’s a 
3.5  Stars
Was this review helpful?
A creepy read which certainly didn't disappoint. The book reads like several mini-stories as we meet each character and these mini-stories come together in the final chapter. Some characters stories and involvement were more interesting than others, but that's life, isn't it? A read which will hook you and leave you thinking over it for some time after finishing the book. 4 stars
Was this review helpful?
Thank you to Netgalley and Orion Publishing Group for the arc of this book.

4 star read for me, a great quick read and a very hooking book. Had me wanting more so it was very page turning and great! I recommend to all as was a well written book. 
Was this review helpful?