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Slade House

by David Mitchell

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Horologists (3)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
2,3272184,527 (3.79)1 / 252
Follows the narrative of five different people who disappear through a mysterious door in an unassuming alleyway that leads to Slade House, owned by a peculiar brother and sister, and vanish completely from the outside world. Down the road from a working-class British pub, along the brick wall of a narrow alley, if the conditions are exactly right, you'll find the entrance to Slade House: a surreal place where visitors see what they want to see, including some things that should be impossible. Every nine years, the house's residents--an odd brother and sister--extend a unique invitation to someone who's different or lonely: a precocious teenager, a divorced policeman, a shy college student. But what really goes on inside Slade House? For those who find out, it's already too late.… (more)
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English (211)  Piratical (1)  Dutch (1)  German (1)  Chinese, traditional (1)  Catalan (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (217)
Showing 1-5 of 211 (next | show all)
We're back in the world of 'The Bone Clocks', and things are not going well for our narrators. Once again the story is gripping, except when it goes into the details of how things work. It's more like hard sci-fi in that sense. Sometimes you just let the reader be ignorant. That's the way it is in real life. There are no explanations! ( )
  billycongo | Jul 22, 2020 |
(From www.pingwings.ca)

Received from the publisher via Netgalley, for free, for review consideration. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

I loved the premise of Slade House. This is the first David Mitchell book that I’ve read (although I’m still working my way through The Bone Clocks).

This was a really quick read! I liked the way each chapter followed a different character, and each chapter built on the previous ones. I also enjoyed the way the story moved through time, with each set in a different decade.

The writing was great, and there were some creepy moments (although I wouldn’t call this a scary book, so don’t be put off if you’re interested in Slade House but worried it will be too scary). Recommended! ( )
  kimmypingwing | Jul 7, 2020 |
I'm pretty sure my mind just imploded. ( )
  angelgay | Jul 1, 2020 |
Inside a black door
near the top of the staircase
a portrait of you. ( )
  Eggpants | Jun 25, 2020 |
I enjoyed this spooky, clever book and marveled at the way David Mitchell managed to trick me every time. He's a master of creating little worlds and taking on new voices, and I always enjoy stepping into them, if only for a chapter. ( )
  nancyjean19 | Jun 3, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 211 (next | show all)
**** 4 out of 5 stars
Review by: Mark Palm
Not Another Haunted House.

The one thing that I have come to expect from David Mitchell is that you never know what you are going to get. That is true once again with Slade House. Nominally a haunted house novel, Slade House reminded me of the story of the Blind Men and the Elephant. The one who touched it’s tail thought that it was a rope, the one that touched it’s ear thought that it was a fan, the one that touched it’s leg thought that it was a pillar. They are all wrong, but they are somehow all right as well.

The story starts with Nathan Bishop, a teenaged boy and his musician mother, who enter Slade House expecting a party, and are greeted by Jonah, a teen-aged boy who seems to have unusual abilities. We can’t quite be sure at first, because the section is narrated by Nathan, who is on valium, which makes his perception strange, as he says. As the story continues, however, and grows more and more surreal, we discover that strange and horrible things are indeed happening in Slade House. Unfortunately for Nathan and his mother, the revelation comes too late.

NIne years later a tough but conceited cop, Gordon Edmunds, is looking into the disappearance of the Bishops and he is lured into Slade House by an attractive young widow, Chloe Chetwynd. At dinner, the two witness ghosts. Once again things get decidedly surreal, and our protagonist is manipulated by their desires into becoming a victim of the strange beings who call Slade House their home. This pattern occurs again and again as we learn that the entities are Norah and Jonah Grayer, who need souls to feast upon. To go into more detail is impossible without dropping a ton of spoilers, but Mr. Mitchell rewards the patient reader, as each section of the story peels away a bit of the mystery. That’s part of the rub, though. For me, not knowing the story made the earlier sections exceptionally creepy. It was satisfying to learn more and more, but as I did I found the book to be a bit less effective.

Mr. Mitchell’s prose, written in the first person through various characters, is exceptional. Each is unique in tone and pace, and all are believable. The biggest problem that I had with Slade House is that I didn’t really feel that it stands that well on it’s own. It is creepy, and effective, and prior knowledge of The Bone Clocks makes Slade House a more effective novel. Still, it’s definitely original, and definitely worth your time.

Full reviews available at http://www.thebookendfamily.weebly.co...
 
“Tonight feels like a board game co-designed by MC Escher on a bender and Stephen King in a fever,” observes a spooked member of a university’s paranormal society in David Mitchell’s manically ingenious new novel, Slade House. It’s hard not to read the assessment as the author’s compressed verdict on his own Halloween-timed offering, but the book is much more besides.

Each fresh product of Mitchell’s soaring imagination functions as an echo chamber for both his previous ideas and his oeuvre to come, components in the grand project he calls his “uber-novel”. But while entire doctoral theses, complete with Venn diagrams, are being written about Mitchellian intertextuality, readers anticipating the heft of his earlier multi-narratives Ghostwritten, Cloud Atlas and most recently The Bone Clocks can step off the ghost train right here.

If this faux-scary, read-in-one-sitting crowd-pleaser has a single mission, it is to enjoy itself. Think The Bone Clocks’s naughty little sister in a fright wig, brandishing a sparkler, yelling “Boo!” – and highlighting an element of Mitchell’s talent that has been present but underexploited from the beginning of the writer’s award-studded career: a rich seam of comedy.

Only one year has elapsed since The Bone Clocks was published. The fact that Slade House germinated from a Twitter short story and blossomed into a work of just over 200 pages with such speed is evidence that time flies when you’re having a good time in a Wonderland of your own creation. Down Mitchell’s rabbit hole, the warren’s Supernatural Wing has expanded.

The good-versus-evil spirit war enacted in The Bone Clocks was its most overwrought and frustrating element, but there have always been ghosts in the Mitchell machine. Now, in a fresh riff on an old theme, the writer parodies his phantoms. Faustian pacts, shape-shifters, “psychovoltage”, soul-theft, reality bubbles, a liquid called banjax (a name almost as cheesy as Avatar’s Unobtanium), and characters who say, “I’d lay off the particle physics, doc, if I were you”: they’re all at the fun house party, flexing their similes and tooting their paper whistles.

While time separates the novel’s five stories, set at nine-year intervals from 1979 to the present day, place unites them. It is to Slade House, accessed via a tiny iron door in an alley, that twin soul-vampires Norah and Jonah Grayer lure their living prey. Will the deftly sketched characters we come so swiftly to care about, sometimes despite ourselves, ever emerge from the Tardis-like space they innocently enter?

“Our scoutmaster told me to get lost, so I did, and it took the Snowdonia mountain rescue service two days to find my shelter,” declares Nathan Bishop, 13 years old, and clearly on the autistic spectrum. He and his mother have been invited to a musical soiree at Slade House. Is the Valium he popped to blame for his hallucinations there, or is something more chilling at work?

Fast-forward to 1988, where sleazy, racist CID man Gordon Edmonds is researching a lead on the Bishops’ unexplained disappearance and romancing a fragrant widow. Nine years later, students from a Paranormal Society field trip enter the equation and, to add more grit to the Vaseline, as the now-vanished Edmonds would phrase it, they become fatally imperilled too. In 2006, the sister of one of them circles the same drain.

As the novellas merge and climax in the present day with the re-emergence of a key character from Mitchell’s back catalogue, familiar shadows – from Harry Potter, Tom’s Midnight Garden, The Matrix, Les Enfants Terribles, The Truman Show, “The Fall of the House of Usher”, The Turn of the Screw and The Rocky Horror Picture Show – dance on the wall. To re cast one of Nathan Bishop’s observations: if I had 50p for every cultural nod, wink and meta-reference I’d have to get out my calculator.

“When something is two-dimensional and hackneyed, this is how to fix it: identify an improbable opposite and mix it, implausibly, into the brew,” Mitchell once told the Paris Review. Vending-machine horror tropes, believable characters, wild farce, existential jeopardy, meta-fictional jokes: into the cauldron they go. Mitchell is at home in this kitchen. Along with the movie industry, he knows that playing goosebumps for laughs is a winning formula. Horror says aloud what religious doctrine often prefers to sidestep: if you believe in cosmic good, you cannot ignore the notion of cosmic evil. Supplement fear with hilarity, and the unbearable becomes bearable. In the gathering darkness, David Mitchell’s illuminated pumpkin lamp is smiling a huge, crazed smile.
added by browner56 | editThe Guardian, Liz Jensen (Oct 29, 2015)
 
David Mitchell’s novels are flecked with meaningful coincidences, to borrow Carl Jung’s description of synchronicity. Characters recur from one of his books to the next. So do images and ideas.

Mr. Mitchell’s best-known and most ambitious novel is “Cloud Atlas” (2004), a suite of interfolded novellas that skip purposefully between eras and temperaments. It seemed, in that novel, that there was nothing this writer could not do. Intellect, feeling, narrative brawn — his kit bag opened and both the Johnstown flood and a rescue skiff poured out.

His most recent novel, “The Bone Clocks” (2014), was nearly as ambitious but felt like a misfire. His gifts were put in service of a plot — there were psychic powers, creepy villains, an epic showdown between good and evil — that felt soft and formulaic.

This was a pastiche of second-rate fantasy fiction that actually read, quite often, like second-rate fantasy fiction. Mr. Mitchell’s intertextual gamesmanship — the recurring characters and so on — began to seem, as a friend said to me, “less like Yoknapatawpha and more like Marvel.”

Mr. Mitchell’s slim new novel, “Slade House,” is a sequel of sorts to “The Bone Clocks,” although it’s closer to being a sly footnote. It first came to life as a short story, “The Right Sort,” which the author published in 140-character snippets on Twitter. It’s grown into something more.

On a macro level, “Slade House” plunges us again into a battle between two blocs of immortals. One group consists of soul vampires; humans must die for them to live. The other is vastly more pleasant.

On a micro level, this can make for malevolent fun. A pair of immortal twins, Jonah and Norah, occupy — or appear to occupy — a grand old pile in downtown London, accessible only through a small metal door in an alleyway. It opens very rarely, and when it does, it admits a victim.

Once they’ve found an acceptable soul to suck, the twins share it as if it were a milkshake into which two straws have been sunk. We’re given tasting notes. “A sprinkle of last-minute despair,” Jonah comments, “gives a soul an agreeably earthy aftertaste.”

After killing and inhaling the soul of a loutish cop, “The twins gasp and let out soft groans like junkies shooting up when the drug hits the bloodstream.” By the time the officer saw something, it was too late to say anything.

“Slade House” is told in five chapters, spaced nine years apart. The first takes place in 1979, the last in 2015. In each chapter, a victim enters the compound. Muggles will not do. The twins need “engifted” humans with potent “psychovoltage.”
Mr. Mitchell tips this book into some dark corners. One character is made to viscerally understand how suffering is much worse if someone you love disappears rather than simply dies.

“Grief is an amputation,” this woman says, “but hope is incurable hemophilia: You bleed and bleed and bleed. Like Schrödinger’s cat inside a box you can never ever open.”

Mr. Mitchell remains a fluent and, when he wishes to be, witty writer. It is hard to disapprove of a novel in which one of the most likable characters is a young woman named Sally Timms, clearly in homage to a lead singer in the venerable British punk band the Mekons.

As this book moves deeper into the fripperies of its ghost story, Mr. Mitchell is savvy enough to have his characters, every so often, blow raspberries at the expense of all the solemnity. “This is all sounding a bit ‘Da Vinci Code’ for me,” one says. And: “What I see is the wackometer needle climbing.”

Alas, the wackometer needle does climb. Characters deliver big chunks of artless exposition so readers can keep up with metaphysical nuances. The dialogue often has a Lovecraft-meets-Hardy Boys flavor: “Something bad’s happening in this house, Sal. We need to get out.”

“Slade House” is Mr. Mitchell’s shortest and most accessible novel to date, and you don’t have to have read “The Bone Clocks” to comprehend it. Readers who come to this book first, however, will get only a slivery glimpse of this writer’s talent. Our seats are the intellectual version of “obstructed view,” as cheap theater tickets sometimes say.

The biggest drawback of “Slade House” might that it simply isn’t very scary. These characters aren’t alive enough for us to fear for them when they’re in peril. With the possible exception of Sally Timms, we’re not invested in them.

As it happens, I read this novel alone and mostly at night in a fairly remote cabin in upstate New York. There’s no cellphone reception here.

I’m as susceptible to scary stories as the next person. After seeing “The Blair Witch Project,” I wouldn’t go on my back porch alone at night, even to smoke, for two months. But “Slade House” slid right off me, even as the wind howled outside.

In “Cloud Atlas,” Mr. Mitchell wrote: “Power, time, gravity, love. The forces that really kick ass are all invisible.” Fear belongs on that list, too.
added by browner56 | editNew York Times, Dwight Garner (Oct 22, 2015)
 

» Add other authors (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
David Mitchellprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bagnoli, KatiaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Oldenburg, VolkerÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Epigraph
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Whatever Mum's saying's drowned out by the grimy roar of the bus pulling away, revealing a pub called The Fox and Hounds.
Quotations
Grief is an amputation, but hope is incurable haemophilia: you bleed and bleed and bleed. (p. 142)
The wackometer needle is stuck on 11. (p. 171)
Think about it: about the squalid, shitty reasons that people murder each other in large numbers now. Oil; the drug trade; control over occupied territories and the word 'occupied'. Water. God's true name, His true will, who owns access to Him. The astonishing belief that Iraq can be turned into Sweden by deposing its dictator and smashing the place up a bit. (p. 172)
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Book description
Keep your eyes peeled for a small black iron door.

Down the road from a working-class pub, along a narrow brick alley, you just might find the entrance to Slade House. A stranger will greet you by name and invite you inside. At first, you won't want to leave. Later, you'll find that you can't. Every nine years, the residents of Slade House extend an invitation to someone who's different or lonely: a precocious teenager, a recently divorced policeman, a shy college student. But what really goes on inside? For those who find out, it's already too late...

Spanning decades, leaping genres, and barreling toward an astonishing conclusion, Slade House is a haunted house story as only David Mitchell could imagine it.

Haiku summary
Welcome to Slade House:
eat, drink and be merry, but
you will never leave.
(passion4reading)

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