Slade House - David Mitchell

Genre: Supernatural/Mystery
Synopsis: 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. . . .


Review: I own both Cloud Atlas and The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell, but I haven't read either because I have always been of the impression that they are quite dense, demanding and meandering books. When I saw a review of this describing it as extremely readable, I decided to use try it as a (hopefully accessible) segue into David's other work. I may have done this slightly out of order, as it turns out that Slade House began life as a short story based upon a section of The Bone Clocks.

Anyway, none of the above is actually anything resembling a review. I LOVED this book, though it wasn't quite perfect. Essentially it is a collection of related short stories, concerning the various victims of the haunted house over several decades. Each character is briefly introduced and contextualized before making their way to the house to suffer a variety of creatives fates. The writing is absolutely beautiful, a perfect blend of readable and lyrical. Despite the short time spent with each character, I loved all of them (except the last one), and I loved the whole new spin Mitchell has created here on the classic haunted house story.

My two biggest issues with it are exposition and the ending. There's quite a lot of explaining in the story, as well as a full backstory literally revealed for the sake of it over coffee. I don't think that was necessary, and it wasn't interesting enough to hold its own. It does, however, give me hope for reading Mitchell's other books; if they're complex enough to require exposition it would be nice if they have it. The ending - I disliked the final character and the events related to them, as they were not convincing enough to seem anything other than a convenience for completing the story.

That said, I would hope my two minor criticisms would not deter anyone who otherwise thinks it sounds like a good read - I did give it 4.5/5 after all. Great read.

Rating: 4/5

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