Death Ward 13 cover

Death Ward 13 is a 2023 horror thriller novel, written by horror author/director Todd Nunes. The book is a novelization of Todd’s upcoming film of the same name, currently in preproduction.

Four rookie nursing students are arched with supervising the last remnants of the inmates housed within Stephens Sanitarium for the Criminally Insane. They’ve only so much time left before the secluded mountainscape spot is permanently closed; even still, the nurses have been assured that those inmates who remain are deemed “harmless” by the higher authorities. 

As per usual, however, what has been promised is not what is delivered. As the evening turns to night, and the nurses find themselves trapped inside the walls of the asylum, a sort of deranged, isolated version of THE PURGE takes place—a small army of deranged psychopaths take over, their backgrounds and expertise in pain, torture, and killing playing into a full-blown rage of extreme horror.


Death Ward 13 cover

This is the sort of elevator pitch you’d hear from filmmaker Todd Nunes while he discusses his novelisation Death Ward 13. Just like Quentin Tarantino with Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, a filmmaking artist has decided to turn into a literary prose stylist. In theory, I say go for it—the more art the better, and all praise the power of self-expression. In practice, well, I was a little more cautious going in.

Here we have an independently published horror novel, released back in October of 2023, featuring a fairly standard but pretty well-illustrated front cover. When I decided to read and review Death Ward 13, I didn’t know what to expect; I enjoy B movies and horror tales with a bit of derangement adding to their charm, but in the past year I’ve begun to feel a sense of battle fatigue. So many extreme fictions have left me needing to regroup, recharge, and maybe even rethink my life choices.

But Todd Nunes delivered, at least in terms of his prose writing. I have not seen the film, and I cannot guarantee that I will see it anytime soon. That’s no snub against the filmmaker—I’m sure I can speak for many when I say that I’ve too many films to see and so precious little time. And besides I’ve already read the book, and I cop to a sense of uneasiness when I watch a flick before a book, or vice versa. I don’t want to spoil the imaginary movie I played in my own head when reading the creepy tale…


Death Ward 13 Film poster

Mr. Nunes has crafted a story that moves forward in a fast clip, while also giving time for character development and backstory. The focus is on our protagonist Nurse Charlotte, who battles her turmoil and guilt over the loss of her twin sister (who succumbed to the raging illness in her head and ended her life in an asylum much like the one in which Charlotte now works). Without giving away anything in the story, Nurse Charlotte battles outward forces of evil inside those walls, while also feeling the cracks begin to crumble inside her own mind. We are left to wonder if maybe the wrong sister had been committed for mental health treatment if maybe the truly insane one had been left to wander these halls at night

The back cover of the book compares the story to that of Shutter Island, or the stories of Edgar Allan Poe, and sure, you can see those influences. But really what Todd has created is a unique piece of horror fiction, more in line with 70’s B movies but with a drive and personality that you just won’t find anywhere else. I don’t know if I can call it art like I’d call Todd Keisling’s Devil’s Creek art, but I do know that I like it. I will be looking forward to more of Mr. Nunes’ works, whether in film or prose.

Death Ward 13 is available to purchase on Amazon in hardback, paperback, and ebook formats here.

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