Time for my first review of 2019! Not only did I choose a fast read, but it is also a reread of a book I really loved. I debated on whether or not I should write a whole new review of David Mitchell’s horror novel Slade House. However, reading its predecessor The Bone Clocks altered my experience of this one in such a way that I deemed it worthy of its own post. For the curious, feel free to check out my original review from 2017.
The story begins in 1979 when a young boy named Nathan and his mother are invited to the home of Lady Norah Grayer. Something feels off from the beginning, as Slade House can only be entered through a mysterious door along an alleyway. Nathan and his mother meet Lady Grayer and her mysterious son Jonah, and the two boys spend the afternoon playing in the garden. The ideal day suddenly turns bizarre as Nathan begins having visions of strange people and other occurrences such as a painting of himself at the top of a grand staircase. The events that occur following this revelation are truly nightmarish.
Slade House is written in five chapters, each set 9 years after the previous one. We soon learn that the Grayers are not what they appear to be and harbor some rather terrifying secrets. Each person who enters the house experiences a completely different scenario with one commonality: never coming out again. I have to give a lot of praise for David Mitchell as a virtuoso when it comes to writing different styles of fiction. From his success at penning family drama to science fiction, I truly believe he can write anything. For this novel, Mitchell has provided us with a work of pure horror as I was literally scared during some of the scenes in this book. With each character, I felt the helplessness of that particular situation. Mitchell manages to give this book an off-kilter feeling as you keep second-guessing on whether the events happening are truly happening. I love fiction that plays with your mind the way this one does.
This novel isn’t so much a sequel to The Bone Clocks but more an extension of that universe. For those that were underwhelmed by that effort, this one is much better as it manages to tell a concise yet frightening story. While I enjoyed this one two years ago on the first read, I loved it even more with the knowledge I have from The Bone Clocks. The reality is that all of Mitchell’s novels are tied to the same universe, and the fun of reading one of his works is spotting the little references to past books.
Although I loved each section, my favorite was the one following Sally Timms in 1997. I loved how Mitchell portrayed this teenage girl’s insecurities. He really can capture teen angst as well as budding romance. Over the years, Mitchell has written in a variety of characters, and I’m always impressed with how well he makes each sound different from the one before.
Overall this is a great book. While frightening and perplexing, it is also a breeze to get through in no time at all. I am highly motivated to read (as well as reread) all of David Mitchell’s novels as he has risen the ranks to one of the finest modern authors working today.
“People are masks, with masks under those masks, and masks under those, and down you go.”
Have you read this book? I’d love to know your thoughts! Let me know with a comment below.