David Mitchell creates a “head scratcher” of a horror story in Slade House. It’s not a long book, but it’s got plenty of story depth and oddities. Reading Slade House is like watching a horror movie. In both cases, you just want to scream to the kind, innocent character, “Don’t go in the room!!” But the characters always do, and that’s the part we relish. You know you do. I do too.
Mitchell divides the book into five chapters, starting with young Nathan and his Mum. They’ve been invited to a musical gathering. And Nathan, who’s an awkward kid on the spectrum, has gotten dressed up in a bow tie. But they can’t quite find the gate. Until it appears in he spot they already walked past.
Each chapter starts with a new character, and Slade House isn’t quite the same each time either. It just gets stranger and more creepy, as do its inhabitants. I’m committed to being spoiler-free so I can’t say much about the plot. But I will tell you it’s a mash-up of a haunted house and a locked room mystery. The house is not what it seems, nor are its owners.
This is my first David Mitchell book, although I have The Bone Clocks on my shelf. I feel like reading Slade House again, because I couldn’t possibly have seen all the clues or foreshadowing the author used. It just seemed like he elegantly smacked me in the noggin—over and over.
I love the way Mitchell inhabits such a variety of voices throughout the book. Each time the character’s voice is wholly unique. For example, this bit from young and confused Nathan.
“I’m about to ask Mum how such a big house and its garden can possibly fit in the space between Slade Alley and Cranbury Avenue, but my question falls down a deep well with no bottom, and I forget what I’ve forgotten.”
On the other hand, some of the metaphysical exposition became a tad dull for me.
If you like horror fiction, but prefer limited gore and heavy psychological factors, give Slade House a try. You’ve got my recommendation!