I’ve now read all of David Mitchell’s novels and I can comfortably say Slade House is the worst.* (I’ve read all of Mitchell’s books because he is a giant of excellence and incredible and even though this book isn’t great you should read all of his books and that’s that.) At first blush a spooky haunted house story, the novel takes a strange – and not well executed – turn when it wraps everything up in the neat mythology of the (exceptional and genius) The Bone Clocks.
In the opening sections that are ‘just’ haunted house/horror, Mitchell is – as always – genius. The writing is sharp, the descriptions vivid and the mood appropriately ominous. But then – whether because he was eager to churn the book out before Halloween or because he couldn’t be bothered – the ending just… happens. And happens by way of referencing the rich and complex and complete world of Bone Clocks and leaves the reader with a tidy bow. Except this only works if you’ve read Bone Clocks. If you haven’t you’re left thinking… what? what what?
So don’t read Slade House. Unless and until you’ve read Bone Clocks. And then if you’ve finished that one and you’re desperate for more of the same world (and the same genius writing) then go ahead and enjoy the soul sucking (there are actual soul suckers) and spooky and haunting and horror.
*Sincere apologies to everyone in book club who had this as their introduction to Mitchell. He’s really so much better than this. I promise.
*Also – T. lent me this book like three years ago and it’s taken me this long to read. Sorry for the long delayed review!