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Literature / 14 (Peter Clines)

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A novel by Peter Clines (author of the Ex-Heroes series and The Eerie Adventures of Robinson Crusoe). 14 chronicles the journey of a young man named Nate Tucker who rents an apartment in Los Angeles where the rent is suspiciously cheap, the cockroaches are bright green with an extra leg, and there's a single padlocked room on his floor that seems to terrify everyone around him. Except, it's the room next door to it where people are constantly committing suicide.

A cerebral horror novel, 14 is published by Permuted Press and has received much praise for its labyrinthine but understandable mystery. It has another book in the same universe by the same author, The Fold.

This work provides examples of:

  • Action Survivor: The survivors at the end
  • Apartment Complex of Horrors: the Kavach Building certainly leans this way. Architecture that seems non-Euclidean, infested by shiny green cockroaches that all have an extra leg, a very carefully locked room that, after the tenants figure out how to open it opens directly into DEEP SPACE, and more fun surprises. In the end, it subverts the trope, sort of, as it turns out to be the only thing preventing a horrendous race of Great Old Ones from coming to Earth and eating almost all living things.
  • Apocalypse How: Humanity will be eaten by extra-dimensional monsters if there's too many psychic presences on Earth. The Kavach Building prevents this.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: There's a lot of it going on in the Kavach Building.
  • Artifact of Doom: Some residents suspect the building might be this. It's actually the only thing preventing the Apocalypse.
  • Big Bad: Cthulhu. Though he's unnamed, it's very obviously either him or the inspiration for the deity in-universe.
  • Blatant Lies: Tim's excuse for knowing an increasingly bizarre set of skills is reading about them in manuals printed by the publishing company he used to run.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Tim and Mrs. Knight are dead, the entire crisis was the protagonists' fault, and they're all traumatized. Nate is now the new building manager, though.
  • Cool Old Guy: Tim, a retired publisher who gets along pretty well with all the younger residents of the Kavach Building.
  • Cosmic Horror Story: The secrets of the universe tied to the Kavach Building threaten one's sanity. Subverted. Everything actually more or less works out in the end.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Mrs. Knight, an otherwise sweet old lady, gets sucked into an alien sun through explosive decompression.
  • Eldritch Location: The Kavach Building.
    • It has a doorway INTO SPACE.
  • Extra-Strength Masquerade: This is enforced around the Kavach Building, which is a good thing once the world starts to end.
  • Fluffy the Terrible: Invoked by Xela when she names the massive bat-winged tentacle-faced monsters "sqales" (squid-whales), because a stupid name makes them slightly less terrifying.
  • Granola Girl: Xela has elements of this, being an outgoing art student who's pretty forthright about her sexuality.
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: The Kavach Building itself acts as one. You might suspect the device to be in the house, but you wouldn't expect the house to BE the device. It's just a weird little apartment building in L.A, right?
  • Holier Than Thou: It seems like Andrew can't go five minutes without pointing out someone's supposed moral shortcomings. Turns out his squeaky-clean Christian persona is just a front, but he still acts superior even when he's revealed to be a cultist bent on sacrificing the world to his "god".
  • Innocent Fanservice Girl: Xela doesn't see much problem sunbathing nude.
  • Lovecraft Lite: Only three major characters die and one was evil.
  • Meaningful Name: The Kavach Building It means 'shield'.
  • The Men in Black: They appear at the end.
  • Mysterious Past: Nate and the others start to suspect this about Tim as the story goes on (Veek at one point says, in reference to Tim knowing things the average person wouldn't, "you can only use that 'I read a book about it' excuse so many times"). When the shit hits the fan later in the book and Tim reveals his power, he says he may have at one time been affiliated with a "three-letter agency".
  • Mood Whiplash: Light and humorous storytelling swerving into cosmic horror then back.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Xela is this for the book, though Nate's Above the Influence.
  • Pointy-Haired Boss: Eddie, Nate's boss at the magazine where he does data entry work, comes off as a unctuous, self-important dullard, making dubious claims about the amount of productivity he could be getting in if he were doing Nate's job.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The residents really-really are messing with stuff above their knowledge level. And it almost destroys the world.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: The government is quite understanding despite the fact our heroes almost ended the world.
  • Religion of Evil: The Family.
  • Retired Badass: Tim, a former FBI or CIA agent who can put down four not quite human creatures in fifteen seconds.
  • Shout-Out: Extensive ones to Scooby Doo, Lost, and The Cthulhu Mythos.
  • Unlucky Everyman: Nate Tucker is this before he becomes a resident of the Kavach Building.
  • Weirdness Censor: The events of the book are only visible to the characters inside the building.
  • Wild Card Excuse: How did Tim learn his increasingly bizarre variety of talents? He published a book on it once. He smugly tells them it's a really good excuse once they stop believing it.
  • The World's Expert (on Getting Killed): Oskar reveals he knows how to set the building back to normal only to immediately get killed.