Book Review | Slade House by David Mitchell

Slade House Review Paige's PagesTITLE: Slade House
: David Mitchell
: Random House
: October 27, 2015
: Supernatural Horror
: 233

Every nine years a guest is summoned to Slade House, never to return.  The only people who know the truth behind the disappearances are already dead.  David Mitchell uses his iconic split narrative style to magic this supernatural horror story into being.  

Over the course of five decades, five guests walk into a terrifying trap.  Slade House is nothing more than the facade for a deadly game of cat and mouse.  Like flies in a web, the unwitting victims don’t stand a chance against the sinister powers at work here.  Who are the residents of Slade House and what is their purpose?  This grown-up equivalent of Neil Gaiman’s Coraline is creepy and compulsive.

Mitchell inhabits the minds of five different characters to give us five self-contained sections in nine year leaps between 1979 and 2015.  The repetition of a nearly identical storyline in each section makes this novel feel like a recurring fever dream.  Emotional investment in the characters and recognition of repeated motifs drive you mad on the boil to each nightmarish climax.  It’s impossible not to appreciate the way the structure weaves a sense of foreboding.

I’m normally not a fan of split narratives, but Mitchell masters the diverse voices of his characters.  I think this technique is much more compelling in Slade House than in his best known book, Cloud Atlas.  The fact that he writes equally convincing male and female characters speaks volumes of his skill.

Slade House is the perfect Hallowe’en read.  You could easily knock it over in a night… although you may be sleeping with the light on afterwards.  

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