Written by Daniel Th1rte3n
I’m a horror fan. I like horror movies, TV shows based in the horror genre, and my bookshelves read like an occult shop. On that same note, I will read and watch anything that you put in front of me and I will do so with an open mind and usually find a few redeeming qualities even if I don’t like the work overly much.
I was sent a copy of the novella The House of Thirteen Doors by Daniel Th1rte3n last week. This is Th1rte3n’s first work, and I was excited to give it a try. Without spoiling too much of the plot, Thirteen Doors follows Joanna, a fashion writer living in the big city, but lacking something in her life. Extremely unhappy in her monotonous day to day life, when presented with an exclusive invitation from elusive fashion designer “5” to cover his new collection, Joanna jumps at the chance.
From this point forward she’s taken on a journey that was a cross between a Stanley Kubrick film, Silent Hill, and an Edgar Allan Poe story. Viewing each of these pieces individually, they’re awesome, but thrown together in 38 pages of overwritten story is just asking for trouble. Th1rte3n tries to channel Gothic writers, but instead of the prose and flow that these authors achieve, Th1rte3n comes across as grandiose and pompous.
There are monsters, demons, dream sequences that involve leopard men and women on leashes wearing rabbit masks… there were several times where I had to stop and read over full paragraphs to grasp exactly what I was reading and how it fit in with the rest of the story. Quickly I realized that it was best just to go with the disjointed work as it wasn’t going to start making sense anytime soon.
The “horror” elements ranged from rotting corpses, aforementioned leopard man, and cronies of “5” that seemed to be pulled straight from Silent Hill in their descriptions. Remember the nurses in both the video game and the film? I would be shocked if that didn’t have a hand in Th1rte3n’s visualization.
Then we have “5” himself. Is he Satan? Is he a vampire? Is he just some low-level demon? The House of Thirteen Doors never fully explains any of this.
Also lacking is any common sense at all from Joanna. She seems completely okay with the terrors that are going on around her, and even after, let’s call it an “incident” in her bathtub (because what woman wouldn’t bathe in the house of a stranger that summoned her and drugged her on the ride there?), she simply dresses in a gown that is laid out for her and heads on down to dinner. Where she proceeds to eat what is more than likely more drugged food, and never bats an eyelash. Only when the house is plunged into darkness and she ends up with a cut on her cheek (I’m still fuzzy on that, by the way) does she even seem a little alarmed. Call me crazy, but I like to actually care about the characters. I had no desire one way or another to see if Joanna lived or died.
The House of Thirteen Doors is a valiant attempt but has too many elements crammed into 38 pages. If Th1rte3n would concentrate on fine tuning one or two horror elements in this story, I think it would have potential.
1 1/2 out of 5