Star Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
“Whatever Mum’s saying’s drowned out by the grimy roar of the bus pulling away, revealing a pub called The Fox and Hounds.”
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.
The last book I read by David Mitchell was The Bone Clocks. A chunky book to say the least, but an adventure and full of writing that is pleasurable to read. Since then, I’ve been lacking in writing that only David Mitchell can deliver, so when I saw Slade House I just had to have it. It is a story that first developed on Twitter (I haven’t read the tweets unfortunately) and is a sister novel, or companion to The Bone Clocks. What I love about him as an author is his use of interlinking when it comes to plot, characters and novels. At the end of The Bone Clocks Mitchell includes a section entitled ‘On Reappearing Characters’ and in this section he writes this: “Each of my novels is a single chapter in a larger volume that I’ll keep working on until I die.” This is my favourite thing about his writing, and knowing this definitely enhanced my reading of Slade House.
What is so satisfying with this story is that after the first chapter, the reader is automatically in a position of having information and insight that the character’s don’t. But this doesn’t stop the excitement for us, because with each chapter and change in time, the plot becomes more engaging and more complex. It is a ghost story, but not your traditional ghost story. It has everything a story of its kind should have, but is unique in its execution.
A feature of Mitchell’s writing is that with chapter changes comes genre changes. Overall, the consensus seems to be that this book’s genre is horror. Yes, it was creepy and kept me reading and guessing till the end (which is brilliant!) but I don’t know if it was horror in terms of what I associate with horror. If I heard a loud, sudden sound while reading it then I did jump, so it definitely has a creepy factor, but I don’t know about horror. I even got a sense of young adult during the chapters with younger characters, but this was soon superseded by the creepiness. The closer you get to the end, the better it gets. Especially the final chapter. I won’t include any spoilers, but anyone who either considers themselves a fan of David Mitchell and has read all of his books, or has only read Cloud Atlas and The Bone Clocks (like me) can appreciate the final chapter. The outcome wasn’t what I expected, and that’s what I loved about it.
Link to the book on Goodreads: