By: Corey Lack
14 is a novel released in 2014 and written by Peter Clines. It features Nate Tucker and other residents of an apartment building investigating the strange aspects of their building. At this point, I’m gonna put a big Spoiler Warning here because I will be needing to discuss aspects of the story’s plot.
The story starts with Nate finding it strange that the apartment being so cheap while being located in Los Angeles. It slowly gets weirder as more strange aspects of the apartment building start becoming apparent, like the powerlines not being connected to the building, a room being completely painted and sealed shut, an elevator shaft with no elevator, and every room being different sizes and layouts. The plot works really well as it slowly adds more to the mystery rather than just suddenly slamming the reader with them. Each time it adds more of the mysterious aspects of the apartment building, it is considered strange, but not very unrealistic. It isn’t until about three-quarters of the way through the book that the supernatural parts of the story start becoming obvious and Clines’s clear Lovecraftian inspirations are made clear. It is found that the apartment building is a keystone to our reality, preventing eternally hungry monsters from reaching humanity.
The characters of the story are varied and each play an important part in the story while bringing a unique perspective to the events. There’s Nate, who’s every bit the example of an average guy, Veek, the loner hacker who’s the one who drew Nate into her investigation into the apartment building, and many others, like the mysterious former contractor, the exhibitionist artist, and the hardworking, but struggling former farmgirl. Nate and Veek, as the main characters and the first ones involved in the investigation, get the most focus and development through the story as they first try to find the secrets behind their home and then try to prevent any sabotage to it.
In regards to the setting of the story, it is so realistic that it is easy to imagine being in their situation. It goes to show that Clines clearly knows his home city very well as well as the various aspects of it.
This story is certainly one to read if you are into mysteries with a bit of horror mixed in. It is a bit of a slow start as it takes a while to really build up the mystery of the Kavach building. Also, the characters seem to quickly figure out various aspects of their overall mystery, but neither of these are deal breakers in my opinion. I’d give the story 8 painted doors out of 10.