I think the cover of this one grabbed my attention the most, because the blurb doesn’t quite capture the true strangeness that unfolds within its pages. Just something about that creepy-looking door made me want to know more. The story starts with a slow, deliberate, almost slice-of-life pace as our protagonist, Nate Tucker, moves into what appears to be an ordinary apartment building in downtown Los Angeles. The affordable rent of a few hundred dollars a month, with all utilities included, seems like a steal for someone like him who is stuck in a dead-end job.
As Nate settles into his new home, he becomes increasingly aware of the building’s peculiarities. Apartment 14, for instance, remains locked and off-limits to tenants. His kitchen light only emits black light, regardless of the bulb used. And there are countless other oddities that continue to pile up.
Nate forms a bit of a Scooby gang with some of his neighbours, including Veek, a woman who is also trying to work out the mysteries of the building.
The writing (as stated up top) is quite deliberate and slow for probably a good three-quarters of the book. None of it is rushed which helps give the sense of something foreboding or building towards something sinister in nature… and here in lies the tricky bit. No spoilers, of course, but the direction the novel took towards the end I did not see coming.
The supporting cast of characters is diverse and fascinating. Each character has a certain quirk, eccentricity or hidden secret making them believable and intriguing. Stereotypes to some degree but not overly forced. Xela, a free-spirited struggling artist. Tim, a retired guy who seems to know just a little more than he should. Veek, I think her take-no-shit style of attitude towards people makes her quite likeable.
Ray Porter, the narrator, was an excellent choice. I think that apart from the Bobiverse books, this is the only other thing I’ve heard him narrate, and it was good to hear him flex his abilities beyond just being one of many Bobs. A large and diverse cast but all unique. The quality was a bit of a letdown, though, with background clicks and noises throughout. Nothing huge, but enough to be noticeable.
While there is mention of “14” being part of the “Threshold Universe” series, it seems to be more of an umbrella term for the shared universe rather than a linked series. As a standalone book, it works well, and I am inclined to keep it that way. Perhaps upon revisiting the audiobook, I’ll change my mind.