Posted on January 8, 2016
1. ‘Slade House’ by David Mitchell
Time for the first review of 2016! I decided to start the new year with a quick story which I was sure I would like: David Mitchell’s recently released horror story about the mysterious Slade House.
Slade House opens in 1979, with a young boy called Nathan who visits the grand Slade House with his mother. Whilst he is there he meets a boy called Jonah, and discovers a portrait of himself at the top of the stairs. The story is written in five sections, each set 9 years after the previous one. We soon learn that Jonah and the other inhabitant of the house, Norah, have a terrible secret, and most of the people we meet throughout the decades who go into the house, don’t come out again.
As you know, I’m a huge fan of David Mitchell, but I found his latest novel, The Bone Clocks, somewhat underwhelming. For that reason I was excited to read something completely different by him, but unfortunately the same magical elements from The Bone Clocks were behind the mysterious goings-on at Slade House. Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy this book. It is written with the same gripping, fast-paced style and beautiful turns of phrase that I love so much from Mitchell, but I am really not into his creation of soul-eating immortals, orisons and Shaded Ways. I think he has done magic and surrealism so much better in different books (the chapter of Ghostwritten set in Mongolia, for example: breathtakingly amazing).
My favourite section was probably the one following Sally Timms in 1997. I loved how Mitchell portrayed this overweight teenage girl’s insecurities – he really nailed teen angst and budding romance – and I also loved how Slade House ‘updated’ itself according to the people who were visiting. I thought the creepy house was at its best during a late-night party, at which everybody seemed to know about the previous disappearances but didn’t really care. My least favourite section was 2006: Mitchell got very exposition-heavy, and he’s at his best when he doesn’t explain.
Overall this is a fine read. It has enough in it to keep you reading right to the end, but it isn’t one of Mitchell’s best. I certainly hope he’s got this aspect of magic out of his head now so that he can get back to writing the good stuff.
“Grief is an amputation, but hope is incurable haemophilia: you bleed and bleed and bleed.”
Have you read this book? I’d love to know your thoughts!
Want to read this? You can buy the book here.