Rating: 3 stars
David Mitchell’s Slade House is an adjunct to his previous six novels, an Easter egg laid on Twitter turned into a book. I enjoyed it as a quick read on Hallowe’en, surrendering myself to its suspense and tension, allowing myself to be played with, as the visitors to Slade House are played with. I indulged myself in Spot-the-Link, appreciating the way plot lines from Mitchell’s previous works made tangents with this story.
You don’t have to have read any of Mitchell’s other books to make sense of this one. It’s an element in his wider universe. You could read it as a taster, I suppose, because it’s shorter than most of his others, but it’s not his most accomplished work. That isn’t to say it’s below standard in terms of his writing. It’s every bit as compelling and absorbing as his other novels. It’s not as ambitiously wide-ranging, though.
I could tell that he had fun writing it, constructing a world outside of time that nests within time. The first story annoyed me slightly, because Mitchell uses the acronym ITV as though it was a broadcaster back in 1979, when ITV was the independent tv network made up of regional broadcasters, and Nathan would have referred to whichever region’s broadcasting company beamed tv programmes into his home. It’s a small thing, but it still pulled me out of the story, making me momentarily distrustful of its authenticity. I was soon hooked back in, however.
Over five chapters, Mitchell describes events in the eponymous house that occur at nine year intervals. The house is occupied by Norah and Jonah, who share characteristics with characters from The Bone Clocks, and who don’t like their select guests to leave. The mystery around the house builds, with each visitor leaving a trail for others to follow until eventually the game is up. And it is quite a game. Mitchell has a knack for describing the logically implausible as though it’s actual. I found myself reluctant to break off from reading, because I didn’t want to leave the characters suspended. I didn’t want to contribute to their supernatural discomfort. Two days after finishing the book, I’m still thinking about it.
Here are some links to two of my favourite book bloggers who have reviewed it, to help you decide whether to give it a whirl.