Episode Thirteen

Redhook: Orbit. Jan. 2023. 464p. ISBN 9780316443104. pap. $18.99. HORROR
The newest from DiLouie (The Children of Red Peak) follows a found-footage narrative before veering into gloriously mind-bending terror. No one knows what really happened to Claire and Matt Kirklin’s paranormal research team Fade to Black. They were filming episode 13 of their television series at the Paranormal Research Center, a building remembered for the bizarre experiments conducted there in the 1970s. Matt hoped this investigation would lead to evidence of the afterlife, especially after discovering what’s in the Center’s basement, but he and his team only ended up part of a greater mystery. Despite telling the story through journal excerpts, transcripts, and even text messages, DiLouie creates an easy-to-follow narrative leading up to the team’s disappearance. This epistolary style also fleshes out each team member with backstories that explain their motivation to understand the unknown and gives what lurks in the basement plenty of ammunition to psychologically assault them.
VERDICT In this subversion of the classic haunted-house/found-footage story, DiLouie demonstrates his ability to toy with and eventually upend readers’ expectations. What could have been a story full of the typical tropes becomes an unsettling exploration into what lies beyond life, death, and reality itself.
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