by David Mitchell
Publication date: June 28th 2016
Publisher: Sceptre (first published October 20th 2015)
Keep your eyes peeled for a small black iron door.
Down the road from a working-class British pub, along the brick wall of a narrow alley, if the conditions are exactly right, you’ll find the entrance to Slade House. A stranger will greet you by name and invite you inside. At first, you won’t want to leave. Later, you’ll find that you can’t. Every nine years, the house’s residents — an odd brother and sister — extend a unique invitation to someone who’s different or lonely: a precocious teenager, a recently divorced policeman, a shy college student. But what really goes on inside Slade House? For those who find out, it’s already too late…
Spanning five decades, from the last days of the 1970s to the present, leaping genres, and barreling toward an astonishing conclusion, this intricately woven novel will pull you into a reality-warping new vision of the haunted house story—as only David Mitchell could imagine it.
“Cloud Atlas” was my first experience of David Mitchell and I was truly impressed by its character, its detail and its message. I didn’t really know what to expect with “Slade House”, reviewed as one of Mitchell’s less complex novels, but I’m not always in the mood for complex and being physically a lot smaller commitment, I thought I’d give it a shot.
It may shock some to hear I absolutely loved this one! I’m really not one to love books, especially those with gothic/horror/fantasy theme, but with “Slade House”, “How to Stop Time” and “Hot Milk” on my Christmas list last year, 2018 is looking set to be a good year of books.
This story is set over a number of different times, set at nine-year intervals from 1979 to the present day, and each stand alone chapter brings a new character, each with their own personalities and style but combined seamlessly into one narrative. While time separates them, place unites them. Each of the characters is a guest at Slade House; a strange place accessed via a tiny iron door in an alleyway, a place that draws people in and a place where once every so often someone pops in for a visit, sometimes against their will, and finds they can never leave.
Mitchell writes with incredibly descriptive language that truly draws you in in the same way the house draws in its guests. I could clearly picture the build up and suspense as guests continued to be intrigued by the stories of Slade Alley and what lies within. Each believable character of different ages and genders was well described and felt realistic in their ways and thoughts.
At times I felt like I was reading an “American Horror Story” series; a horror story with a quirky, kooky edge. This book could easily be made into a film or TV series exploring its different eras, genders, ages and styles as the years pass. My only hope is that if they do so, they do it well.
It’s clever, it’s different and it’s well written. Saying any more would ruin the adventure.
Overall rating: Kooky and creepy, this story is completely different to things I’ve read before. This well crafted story is full of twists and turns which make this an engaging page turner that kept me gripped. I’m giving David Mitchell‘s seventh novel, “Slade House”, five stars and adding Mitchell’s 2014 book “The Bone Clocks“, which I’ve heard is along the same theme, to my wish list.
See my other reviews of books by David Mitchell here: