I was very skeptical of this book. After my bad experience with Cloud Atlas, I wasn’t sure what to expect from this (thankfully) shorter novel. But, a shorter length is encouraging this time of year with me so busy with school so I jumped in. I have a lot of thoughts so keep reading!
Slade House by David Mitchell
Other books by David Mitchell:
Summary from Goodreads:
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.
There were parts of this book I wasn’t ready for. I didn’t realize Mitchell wove his books together so having elements of Cloud Atlas (Spyglass magazine in particular) were weird to me at first. I’ve read elsewhere that this book takes place in the same universe as The Bone Clocks so I’m going to push for that to be my group’s creepy read next year. Like Cloud Atlas, this book was several stories that wove together to create a novel and I thought the transitions were much more fluid and connected in this title than they were in Cloud Atlas. I liked how the characters were all connected to each other and how we slowly learned what was going on with the house. I was super creeped out reading this before bed at the beginning but by the end of the novel, when I better understood what was happening, I was less nervous about having nightmares.
Most of the time I watch a horror movie, I think ‘Why would you do that?’ of the characters. I felt that the guests at Slade House acted in a logical way about 95% of the time. When Gordon went to the room at the top of the stairs, he lost me. Before that and after it, I thought everyone was pretty logical. It was refreshing and somewhat terrifying. If they acted logically and still fell into the trap, would this snare any logical person?
Sally was my favorite. I thought her story seemed really likely. She had a crush on a boy who liked her back and got sucked into something while chasing something that made her feel good. She got a lot of crap from the other ParaSoc members but she seemed to have her head on her shoulders. Plus, she stabbed Jonah, which was awesome.
I felt Freya was really determined and I related to her on that front. Nine years after her sister passed, she’s back in England chasing down a man who might know something and is determined to find out what happened. She was dedicated and curious, too. It was a good combination in a protective older sister.
I liked Sally’s story best. By that point, I had a slightly better idea of what was happening but could still enjoy the mystery of what was happening. Nathan and Gordon’s stories were confusing to me and Freya’s explained too much and I didn’t like the POV switch at the end.
I disliked Nathan’s story most. It was so confusing knowing nothing about Slade House and having it through the eyes of an autistic child. I was scared I wouldn’t like the book after that first chapter but I ended up enjoying the rest of it a lot more.
I’m not sure if there is a good theme to talk about for this book. Don’t trust strangers seems the most likely, but I don’t like that as a theme so I’m going to refuse to use it. I think the book was meant to frighten me and it did that. I’m not really sure it had much of a message, only entertainment value.
Writer’s Takeaway: I had minor quibbles with this book overall. Though Mitchell avoided an info dump at the beginning, the one in Freya’s chapter was almost unreadable to me. It was really long and, I thought, overly detailed. I also didn’t like the POV switch at the end, it seemed like a cheat to give a twist ending when I think the twist could have been done another way. Mitchell seems to like the short-story novel format and I’m not a fan, but it works for him. I don’t know if I could write it, but maybe that’s why I’m not famous.
Enjoyable despite minor complaints. Four out of Five Stars.
Until next time, write on.
Not a Review of David Mitchell’s New Novel *Slade House* | University of Wisconsin Press
‘It’s a good place to start with this author’ – Slade House by David Mitchell | Bookmunch
Review: Slade House by David Mitchell | William Shaw
Book Review | In Which David Mitchell’s Slade House Teaches Me Something About Myself | One More Page…