Genre: Horror / Ghost Story
Publication Date: 14th April 2017
REVIEWED BY NEV
A copy of Apartment 14F: An Oriental Ghost Story was sent to Confessions of a Reviewer by the author, C.M. Saunders, in exchange for an honest review. This is said review. This book is self-published.
So, I have seen the name of Christian Saunders floating around the world of social media for quite some time now. As has happened many times before, I wasn’t even aware he was a published writer. I think I have got past the embarrassment of that happening to me nowadays because I am generally so busy and there are so many of you author types out there, that I can’t keep up.
Mr Saunders sent me a cheeky email knowing I was closed for submissions but, as I have said before, I like when that happens, mostly. It shows a determination from the author to spread the word about their work. Plus, the story was set in China, one of my most favourite places in the world.
This is what I thought.
Jerry packs up his troubles and travels to China to take on a new teaching position and try and leave his old life, and woes, well behind him.
Everything goes pretty smoothly in the beginning, until he learns of the mysterious disappearance of the previous tenant of his apartment. When he digs to find out more information, the picture being painted is one of deception.
After visiting a unique fortune teller, things for Jerry start to go from bad to worse as what she tells him gives him more insight into the history of his apartment, and the things that go bump in the night.
As you would imagine, this story has the spotlight firmly on Jerry as the main character but also includes meaningful dialogues with his assistant, Yin Tao and the lady who operates the lift in his building, Lin Xiao.
Jerry is a funny sort of a bloke. On one hand, he seems to be very well grounded and totally in control of his life. On the other, he seems to be very disorganised and someone who needs lots of encouragement to get things done. A bit of a mixed bag. The type of person whose school report would read could do better. Yin Tao is a modern-day servant if you like, who is tasked to do anything that Jerry wants of him. Always eager to please, he is exceptionally good at his job. Lin Xiao is a mysterious woman who spends most of her life pushing buttons in a lift but she has a certain aura about her that suggests she knows more than she lets on.
So, to the plot. It is pretty simple really. Jerry moves into an apartment he thinks is haunted. He tries to find some info on the last tenant and finds out he has gone missing. He tries to get to the bottom of both problems. And that is as much as I am telling you.
So how was the writing? Well, if I say from the outset that I will definitely be looking for more stuff from Christian Saunders, would that answer your question?
This is a story that I think will appeal to a wide range of people, for many different reasons. It is very well written in a non-fancy way, if I can use that term. By that I mean that there are no glamourous scenes or over the top storylines to beef the story up. It is told as a bare basics type of story and that method is extremely effective. It feels like one of those Japanese horror films you would watch. Very moody and atmospheric.
The way Mr Saunders uses his extensive knowledge of the Chinese culture to explain some parts of the story is wonderful too. You get a sort of a history lesson as the story progresses and to me, that just added to the interest.
Do I have a negative? Well, yes, I do and this is the reason for knocking a star off. It could have been scarier for me. All the ingredients are there for a very effective ghost story, and it is a very effective ghost story. I just think it could have been expanded on a bit more, to give some more creepiness and darkness to an already well written piece. There are a couple of occasions where the tension is building and comes to an end too soon for me. If it had of kept building up a little longer, keeping the suspense going a bit more, it would have been perfect for me. This doesn’t really take away from the enjoyment of the story though.
To summarise: this is a really good ghost story and the oriental slant to it gives it that little bit more atmosphere. Could have been a bit creepier for me but then everyone’s horror level is different.
If you would like to help support Confessions of a Reviewer, then please consider using the links below to buy Apartment 14F or any other books from Christian. This not only supports us but also lets us know how many people actually like to buy books after reading our reviews.
When Jerry leaves his old life in London behind and travels to Beijing to take up a teaching position, at first he is enchanted by the brave new world he finds waiting for him. However, things soon take a turn for the worse. Upon his arrival he learns of the mysterious disappearance of his predecessor, and after he moves into his new apartment he is plagued by strange dreams in which he shares the dwelling, and his bed, with a ghostly entity. Then things start going bump in the night, and Jerry soon finds himself embroiled in the kind of supernatural drama that had previously been unthinkable to him.
An encounter with a fortune teller with a difference proves the catalyst for a new wave of terror and eventually, he is forced into the accepting the realisation that something else was waiting for him on the other side of the world, and perhaps even in the next world. What’s more, his time is quickly running out.
This is a new edition, revised version by the author.
Inside Apartment 14F (essay)
Little Dead Girl (short story)
“The author shows amazing depth and realism supported by interesting and well-developed characters as well as a plot that will require a night light after reading. You might also want to consider checking under the bed.” – Bitten By Books
Christian Saunders, who writes fiction as C.M. Saunders, began writing in 1997, his early fiction appearing in several small-press titles and anthologies. His first book, Into the Dragon’s Lair – A Supernatural History of Wales was published in 2003. After graduating with a degree in journalism from Southampton Solent university he worked extensively in the freelance market, contributing to numerous international publications including Fortean Times, Chat, Its Fate! Bizarre, Urban Ink, Enigma, Record Collector, Nuts and Maxim, and a regular column to the Western Mail newspaper.
Since returning to dark fiction he has had stories published in Screams of Terror, Shallow Graves, Dark Valentine, Fantastic Horror, Unbroken Waters and several anthologies. His novellas Dead of Night and Apartment 14F: An Oriental Ghost Story are available now on Damnation Books, while Devil’s Island, is out now on Rainstorm Press. His latest book, From the Ashes – The REAL Story of Cardiff City FC is available now. He lives in London, England, and works as a freelance writer.
And for more about Christian, visit his site or find him on social media: