Slade House

Slade HouseEvery nine years, someone walks through the small black iron door off Slade Alley to find themselves in the garden of Slade House, a house that’s not even visible from the alley. In 1979, it was little Nathan Bishop and his mother Rita, there at the invitation of Lady Grayer, owner of Slade House. The Bishops were never seen again, and Norah Grayer has proven impossible to find. And in 1988, a police detective wanders into that same garden, curious about the mystery. . .

Each chapter in David Mitchell’s Slade House covers another encounter with the mysterious house. I’ve seen it described as a series of short stories, but I experienced it as a novel with an episodic structure, each chapter building on the last at a satisfying pace and with a different voice taking the lead. Aside from the first chapter, none of the chapters stand alone. This book is apparently linked with Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks, employing some of the same mythology, but I didn’t feel I was missing any essential knowledge without having read the earlier book. The mystery of Slade House is supposed to be disorienting and weird at first, and the explanations that begin to fill in the narrative are enough. If there’s more to the story, I didn’t need it.

As for the story itself, it’s a lot of fun if you enjoy haunted house stories. It’s not a great masterwork of the genre. It offers little commentary on the human condition or cultural norms. It just offers shudders and thrills, which is no small thing. The ending goes a little over the top, perhaps, but I often find that to be the case with horror stories. To me, the real chills are usually in the set-up, and this book is no exception. I enjoyed reading this overall, and if I ever get around to The Bone Clocks, I’m sure I’ll enjoy seeing the links to this story.

I received a review copy of this book through the LibraryThing Early Reviewer program.

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12 Responses to Slade House

  1. Alex says:

    I have to go and pick this up from the library next week and I’m really looking forward to it. I’m glad of what you say about not needing to have read ‘The Bone Clocks’ because, although I have, it is such a complex book I could never hope to hold all of its intricacies in my mind over the fifteen or so months since it came out and I wondering if I would need to go back and read that first before embarking on the new book. Now I can start it without worrying.

    • Teresa says:

      If I hadn’t seen in reviews that this linked to The Bone Clocks, I never would have known that I was missing any background. The essential parts are explained in the book.

  2. I’m excited to try David Mitchell this year. I think I’ll probably start with The Bone Clocks since I already own it, but I’m very much looking forward to Slade House whether I get to The Bone Clocks or not. It sounds fun!

    • Teresa says:

      The only other book of his that I’ve read is The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, which I liked a lot, but I don’t think it’s typical of his work. This is altogether different from that.

  3. Jenny says:

    This sounds like something I’d really enjoy! I thought Black Swan Green was pretty good (though not AWESOME!!1!!) and I’d definitely try another of his books.

  4. litlove says:

    Last November I saw David Mitchell speak in Cambridge, promoting this book. He came across as such a nice guy – very chatty and endearingly ineloquent with it. I would love to finally read him this year, but I think I should begin with one of his bigger novels – Ghostwritten or The Bone Clocks, maybe?

    • Teresa says:

      I’ve only read two of his books, but I definitely get the impression that this isn’t representative of his work. Most of his fans seem to point to Cloud Atlas as his best. It’s been on my list for years,

  5. Stefanie says:

    I’m definitely going to read this for the RIP challenge in the fall!

  6. Michelle says:

    I am really looking forward to reading this one!

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