[I received a copy of this book from its Canadian publisher Penguin Random House Canada. This does not affect my opinion of the novel.]
It’s been two weeks since I finished reading Slade House, David Mitchell’s new novel, and I’ve been recommending it to whoever will listen ever since. This 200-odd-paged book is Mitchell’s take on a classic haunted house story and much like some of its characters, Slade House refuses to let me go.
Let me preface my review by saying this: I am not normally a horror story/haunted house-seeking reader. But given my great experience with The Bone Clocks last year and the fact that Slade House will be published on my birthday, I felt like I should give it a shot. (Plus, as an avid Twitter user, I love that the first chapter of this book was originally published as a Twitter story.)
I think it should be obvious by now that the book far exceeded my expectations.
What Mitchell delivers in Slade House is a spooky, intriguing, magnetic story. It features Slade House, which is an easily-overlooked house that can only be found if you know the directions (and even then it might take you a few tries to find it) and its mysterious inhabitants. The book opens with a mother and her precocious but socially awkward son meeting the owners of the house. Soon, readers learn that new visitors are invited (read: lured) to Slade House every 9 years, and the reason might be more sinister than it originally appears…
What impressed me most about the story (other than the story itself) is how Mitchell handles its structure. As you read, you notice patterns starting to form, but events never seem repetitive and the creepiness never wavers. Slade House’s world is deliciously unsettling, and I never wanted it to end. (I have no idea what that says about me.) In this post’s title I claim that Slade House taught me something about myself and it is this: I’ve been passing over a genre of books that I think I really, really enjoy. Since finishing this book, it’s like a switch has been flicked and an unused part of my reading brain has become illuminated. I’ve been craving creepy gothic reads like never before, and even wrote a blog post asking for recommendations! If nothing else, I thank David Mitchell and this gem of a book for introducing me to a genre that I used to avoid.
Back to the book: fans of The Bone Clocks will be happy to see some familiar faces, but prior knowledge of Mitchell’s work is not needed to understand and enjoy the plot. So, whether you’re a Mitchell fan or not, I’d highly recommend checking out this short but spooky book, especially if you’re in the mood for a Halloween-appropriate read! (Side note: I’d recommend reading this book as close to its release date as possible, as I feel like they chose an October 27th release for a reason…)
Verdict: This is honestly one of the best books I’ve read this year in terms of how much I loved it and how much it has impacted me personally. It’s a fun, short read, but it’s also gripping and “unputdownable” at the same time. Everyone should read it right now – it might just surprise you.
Read if: You’re a fan of haunted house stories, want to read more of David Mitchell’s “multiverse,” you want to see how a Twitter story evolved into one of my favourite books of the year.
Are you a fan of haunted house stories? Are you a David Mitchell fan? Will you be reading Slade House?