Slade House by David Mitchell
|Slade House by David Mitchell|
|Reviewer: Ani Johnson|
|Summary: We return to Mitchell's enticingly strange world of The Bone Clocks for some Halloween shivers. Easily read as a stand-alone, short and oh so scarily sweet, this is one for the fans and newbies alike.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 240||Date: October 2015|
|External links: Author's website|
Once every nine years Jonah and Norah Greyer entertain a guest; each time a different person… or persons. Each visitor walks through the small black door of Slade House for various reasons of their own. Or at least they think they know why they're there but only Jonah and Norah know the real reason – the only reason.
David Mitchell didn't plan on writing another novel just yet as he usually likes a couple of years between publishing dates. However he was dabbling with Twitter as a medium for short stories in 140 character instalments when one, The Right Sort outgrew the tweets and took on a rather popular life of its own, providing us with Slade House.
This strange London house inhabits the same oddness-tinged world as his Man Booker nominated The Bone Clocks. There's also a character cross over which isn't unusual for Mr M. This time, when we reach the final section we encounter a well-remembered Bone Clock stalwart. (Don't let that put you off reading this first though – the two books can be read in either order.) However this time out the star is the titular house and its two uncanny occupants.
We come across brother and sister Jonah and Norah Greyer in the five different sections as the novel is divided into nine year intervals from 1979 to Halloween 2015, the latter almost coinciding with its publishing. Each time they welcome new visitors and, on the whole, we witness these stories through the visitors' eyes. They're a varied collection from a young boy through to a police detective, a journalist, a student and our aforementioned friend. Each will receive personally tailored hospitality with a twist.
In some ways it could be seen as a group of short stories linked by location and people. However the last story draws it all together in a way more reminiscent of the instalments from the book's origins.
As we read we realise that the Halloween season publishing date isn't a coincidence. It's a book with 'read in daylight!' written all over it. Although this isn't done for dramatic effect but in an understated way that draws us in to the life and era of each guest.
Once we've discovered from the fate of young Nathan (the first unwitting caller) what may befall any who cross that threshold we read on with a soupçon of anticipatory fear. Indeed, the horror isn't – nor does it need to be - daubed large in blood. It builds within our own imaginations for we know something each guest doesn't… This isn't only a clever device, it means that each of us creates the horror level that we can stand, making it the perfect story for wuss and bring-it-on bravery alike. I won't say too much, just don't manicure your nails till you've finished reading; it'd be a total waste of time!
For me, Slade House reinforces David Mitchell's reputation as an everyman's non-high-falluting storyteller who has also been accepted into the world of highly esteemed literature. Compared to the length of The Bone Collectors this is a novella, giving the stomach-punch and the large lingering dose of menace all the more impact. If you'd like a well-paced scare or an introduction to the author's talent, this is a good place to start. If you like and know David's work already, I should imagine you're there, camping out in the book shop queue.
(Thank you, Sceptre, for providing us with a copy for review.)
Further Reading: If you haven't read it, The Bone Clocks does come highly recommended. If you fancy a look at other Booker nominated authors, this year's winner Marlon James comes highly recommended. If you'd rather stick with Halloween chillers, we also highly recommend Printer's Devil Court by Susan Hill, The Woman in Black author.
Slade House by David Mitchell is in the Top Ten Fantasy Books of 2015.
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