Published by Random House
Publication date: October 27th 2015
At least once in every reader’s life a book comes along where they think ‘I wish the author had written more about that.’ For fans of David Mitchell that wish often comes true, thanks to his ability to resurrect characters in different iterations and insert them in subtle ways from one novel to the next. In his last novel, The Bone Clocks, there was a supernatural element on the periphery of the human plot. This subplot was interesting in and of itself, but far removed from the crux of the novel until the final third of the book when it exploded (literally). At the time, I felt as if the human world was plot enough, but did think Mitchell’s new supernatural world of immortality was compelling. Now, in Slade House, he introduces Norah and Jonah Grayer, attractive predatory twins who also follow the Shaded Way and need human souls in their quest for eternal life. Told in chapters set every nine years for when they feed, Slade House is a book of psychological terror and physical horror showcased in Mitchell’s inimitable prose.
In Slade House there is nothing so déclassé or obvious as brain eating zombies. Norah and Jonah are elegant practitioners of the fine art of mind control and visual deception. To this end Slade House is the orison—a pseudo-reality or hologram-like world—where their “birth-bodies” are kept in stasis in a room known as the Lacuna. Humans of the right sort (those who are psychically gifted) are lured into the Slade House reality by showing them what they want to see. Once inside, there is no way out and all that is left is for the Grayers to suck said human’s soul out of their body as the paralyzed and partially dead donor watches their own soul depart. Gruesome and delightful if you like being scared, appalled, and fascinated all at the same time. But this act of killing is almost the least interesting part of Slade House. Instead, it is Mitchell’s orison, the reality bubble he weaves around the world of Norah and Jonah and their lives that is so mesmerizing. Like the candle flame found in their Lacuna staring into the pages of Slade House is hypnotizing, the words luring you further into the story until the thought of putting it down is impossible.
Many of the concepts and terminology found in The Bone Clocks are also in Slade House, but both novels stand alone. Mitchell’s effortless creation of the silky evil that is Norah and Jonah as they become whatever their victims need before they reveal themselves befits a novel of much greater heft than the 220 pages that comprise Slade House, but don’t be fooled, this novel packs such a wallop of edgy, literary terror and surprise that nervous laughter is the companion to a clenched gut. This is perfect reading for dark and stormy nights so let someone else hand out the candy this Halloween, you’ve got better things to do.
Sarah's Book Shelves says
I’ve never read Mitchell (I know, horrible!) and thought about giving him a shot wit h this one since it’s shorter, but was told I really should read The Bone Clocks first. But, I don’t know, I’m not really into supernatural or paranormal or magical realism or all that stuff, so I’m not sure I’d love this. Although, you did love it, so… 🙂
Hhhmmm…no judgment on not reading Mitchell! 😉 If paranormal is not your thing than Bone Clocks might be better because it had a great female protagonist. I don’t agree that you need to read it first to read Slade House. Mitchell has been re-using characters since his first novel (always in amazing ways) but I haven’t read all his books and I still love the ones I have.
I think you have convinced me to pick this up!
Well, darn you, Catherine. I don’t know why, but I have been on the fringes of David Mitchell for years. Got Black Swan Green from the library, loved a few of the first lines, but couldn’t make myself go further. Bone Clocks was on the list forever, but folks make it sound SO strange that I haven’t had the gumption to dive in. Plus, 8,000 pages long is always a strike in my book. So now, here’s this one, under 200 pages, and a great review. I may have to bite the bullet and make this my first Mitchell. Thanks for pulling me in!
That’s so much pressure! Mitchell is a slow starter for me in all his novels. Cloud Atlas is my favorite. This is just a quick scary novel without a gore element.
Cloud Atlas just sounds like it would be so much work. I’m definitely putting Slade House on my list, if you want to try and talk me into CA you’re more than welcome. 🙂
Monika @ Lovely Bookshelf says
I STILL haven’t read Mitchell, and every time I read a review of one of his books, I’m certain I’ll love his writing. This review being no exception! I’m completely intrigued.
I’m feeling in much better company learning how so many well-read pals have also never read Mitchell. This review is great and Slade House is short enough that I may give this one a go and leave the club. We shall see!
Cynthia Robertson says
Like the other visitors here, I haven’t tried Mitchell. But now you’ve convinced me. I’m going to pick up Bone Clocks first, and if I get through that one and enjoy it, I’ll definitely be reading Slade House after. Cloud Atlas intimidates me. I’m not sure why. I’ve seen the movie, and liked it well enough. But felt it was a bit repetitive and that the book itself might be confusing, or bore me.
Beautifully worded review, Catherine. Your way with language always delights.
I don’t disagree with anyone who has been leery of Mitchell- he’s a slow starter. I would say that the book Cloud Atlas is better than the movie. The feeling is less of repetition and more of circles closing or dots connecting- if that makes sense!
I REALLY HAVE TO READ HIS STUFF! I must stop procrastinating!
You’ve been busy! You’ll get to him. Slade House is a good one because it’s smaller than most of his other stuff but will give you an idea of his style.
sylvie sevigny says
Hello,thank you for your excellent review. I absolutely LOVED this novel, I have been trying to encourage friends to read Slate House. Mostly I find some intimidated by David Mitchell’s larger novels.
So far it is one of my favorite books this year.
P.S. I just started my blog after many years away from blogging the books I read. It is in it’s infancy 🙂
Congratulations and thanks for stopping by! Mitchell’s writing is, for me, gorgeous, but I know a lot of people have trouble getting into his novels. He is a slow starter.