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  • Writer's pictureHannah Zunic

Time to Go Ghost Hunting Again: A Review of Episode Thirteen by Craig DiLouie

Updated: Mar 24

Hello, Book Nerds! Welcome back to Reading Has Ruined My Life or welcome if you are new. As always, my name is Hannah and I am your captain on this journey into my bookcases.


We are back on our bullshit today. We are talking, once again, about my favorite genre. That’s right, we’re talking horror today; my one and only. And it’s a haunted house story, too! Oh, I’m so excited. Let’s jump in.


First things first, please give a warm welcome to Episode Thirteen by Craig DiLouie!

Book cover of Episode of Thirteen by Craig DiLouie.

As always, a spoiler alert is in order. This is your one and only warning. If you’ve read any of my other reviews then you know I love to spoil the majority of the books I read. I’m sorry, I can’t help it. I also must issue a content and trigger warning before we continue. Episode Thirteen has mentions of abusive relationships, specifically physically abusive relationships. There are also some brief mentions of suicide. Please be aware these topics are in the book. With that, let’s get to the synopsis.


Episode Thirteen follows the hit ghost hunting show Fade to Black. Fade to Black stars husband-and-wife ghost hunting team Claire and Matt Kirklin. Now this show isn’t your normal paranormal show. While Matt and the rest of the crew go out of their way to prove the supernatural exists, Claire is ready and waiting to debunk the evidence through science. It’s believer versus skeptic on this show!


Our story focuses on Fade to Black’s episode thirteen. A very infamous episode. The team is investigating the Paranormal Research Foundation’s abandoned mansion. In the 1970s, a group of scientists were doing some scientific research. Research that involved some bizarre experiments that caused most of the participants to commit suicide. But the weird part is, all the scientists involved in these experiments disappeared from the manor house never to be seen again.


Needless to say, the manor is haunted! Matt wants to answer some of the questions surrounding the house, but he and the crew get so much more than they bargained for. Objects moving, full bodied apparitions speaking and interacting with them, time loops, and a constantly expanding tunnel system.


Episode Thirteen is told like a found footage documentary but in book form. This novel tells the story of Fade to Black’s crew as they slowly descend into madness over the course of the investigation, and what ultimately happens to them at the Paranormal Research Foundation.


I appreciate that this book keeps readers guessing. While this is a haunted house story, it’s not your run of the mill haunted house tale. Is this haunting scientific? Is it paranormal? Ancient powers coming into play? A combo of everything? I had no idea where things were going. When I cracked Episode Thirteen open I anticipated your typical haunted house story, and I was super excited for that, but the longer the book went on the weirder things got. For the most part I’d say it’s a good weird, but there were a few times I was lost in the science-y talk. But I must applaud Craig DiLouie for crafting a haunted house story that stands out from the crowd.

Woman clapping.
Claps for the author.


I also appreciate the meta media aspect of this book. I love that this is meta media. I love meta media. Episode Thirteen is told through transcribed video footage, the team’s journal entries, text messages, and emails. As I said in my synopsis, this is a found footage documentary told in book form. It adds to making this book stand out. The haunted house story has been done a thousand and one times before. At this point a lot of them are very much the same. To do a haunted house story right, something needs to change, something needs to be different. The found footages/meta media aspect of Episode Thirteen combined with the weird 70s science fueled by drugs is enough to make it different. The weird 70s science makes things really trippy, dude.


Speaking of science, I have far too many questions concerning the trippy science. I don’t fully know or understand what occurs near the end. Warning, spoilers ahead. I understand the time loop. I do not understand exactly what the scientists were doing in the 70s. It’s not that their experiments weren’t discussed, it’s just they were so outlandish I couldn’t follow. Is a character I won’t name dead…? Is this character on a new plane of existence…? I don’t know. I think it’s a combo of the two, but there’s so much going on when it comes to the experiments. I have to dock some points from Episode Thirteen for this. I would have liked a little more explanation regarding the ending. Or at least some dumbed down science. Science is too big brained for me.


It's funny that I have this many questions surrounding the ending. Episode Thirteen is a major slow burn. For a good fourth of this book, nothing happens. Don't get me wrong, it's not boring or anything of the sort. Craig DiLouie spends a long amount of time building up the haunted house atmosphere, history, and characters. He definitely creates a beautifully haunting atmosphere that's building up to things going bump in the night. And once the haunting begins, things do not slow down. For as long as this book is, and the amount of time spent in the beginning where nothing happens, I would have thought more things would have been explained. Or again, the science was science-ing too hard for my small lizard brain. The atmosphere, immersion, and slow burn beginning are all still great in my opinion. Just less science talk, please and thank you.


Overall this is a very enjoyable read. I would 110% recommend this read to other horror fans. I believe my issues with the novel are not things most others would face. I had a great time with Episode Thirteen and I think many others will too.


With that, I shall bid you all adieu. Thank you for joining me today. I will see you all again next week with another new review.


Until then, stay safe, wash your hands, and read some good books for me.

Bears waving.
See y'all then, bye!

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