Review: Slade House by David Mitchell

Rating: ★★★★★

“Tonight feels like a board-game designed by M C Escher on a bender and Stephen King in a fever.”

Rumor has it that once every nine years, around the corner from a dive bar, down a cramped alley and through a black iron door, Slade House makes itself known to an unwary wanderer. 

Rumor has it that Slade House is a luxury villa, a roaring house-party, the home of a lonely widow.

Rumor has it that once you enter Slade House, you never leave.

Slade House is a compilation of the tales of five guests. One by one, decade after decade, the flows and eddies of their life bring them to the mysterious house. Some seek friends, others seeking love and lust. Still others are out for revenge. But the strain that ties them together is the mysterious house, a staircase full of paintings, faint echoes of the ones that came before. Whispers warning guests that Slade House is the flytrap, and they are the flies.

Slade House is David Mitchell’s seventh book, and it’s the first I’ve read. You might be familiar with Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas or The Bone Clocks. It was only after finishing Slade House that I discovered it’s set in the same universe as The Bone Clocks, which really makes me want to read The Bone Clocks now.

Slade House is everything I love about horror – a dark mystery surrounding characters living on the razor’s edge. All of the haunted house tropes are there – creaking stairs, spooky voices, Something In The Attic – but it’s the framing and the perspective that make Slade House shine. Each “chapter” of the book is short, but in a short time Mitchell really delves into their heads and gives an autistic boy, a sleazy police officer, a downtrodden girl, and more each their own unique and interesting voice. Most of all, Mitchell’s tone is fun and interesting and digestible, all while being written in what some would call a literary style. 

If you have a couple of hours free, you can read this book in one sitting. I spaced it out, reading one chapter each night before bed (though this may be inadvisable due to the spookiness of this story). It’s only 68,000 words so it’s a fairly quick read.

I love horror and don’t read enough of it, but I think David Mitchell’s Slade House has me hooked.

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