FORMAT: HARDCOVER (REVIEWED), DIGITAL, AUDIOBOOK | RELEASE DATE: 26th NOVEMBER
Jonathan Sims is best known for his horror fiction podcast The Magnus Archives, which is wildly popular and well known for its detailed and connected narratives. Sims has a talent for talking disparate ideas and hammering them into a single coherent narrative, turning the anthology format into arc-plot storytelling.
Sims debut novel works a similar sort of way. The collection of short stories hang on a deliciously creepy premise. Banyan Court is a residence in London designed by the elusive billionaire Tobias Fell. The building, which is thirteen storeys high, has space for people from all walks of life including Fell’s own penthouse and though new, the place has a reputation for death and tragedy. The most notorious tragedy is the tale of Fell’s own demise. Fell invited twelve residents, people he apparently had little connection to for dinner one night and then he was dead. This mystery forms the basis for the anthology, as we listen to the stories of each guest.
Though each tale is stand-alone, Sims has skilfully woven them together into a single, haunting narrative. The pacing is interesting; the first few stories are slow yet promising, gradually drawing the reader in. The idea here is that they stack up. The author has mastered the tempo of the storytelling so by the time you get to the final story your heart is racing.
Fans of the Magnus Archives will recognise the author’s distinctive style yet this is not a redux of that show. Instead, it’s a blend of modern horror tropes and some classic ideas. Some of the overall themes are a little bit obvious, but that just gives the whole thing a more ‘horror movie theme’. Good horror, after all, is a blend of real-world fears and the impossible, and Sims nails it here.
A modern horror classic from one of the most exciting writers in the field today.