Slade House by David Mitchell
Slade House is one of those books which was quite clearly just written for the sheer hell fun of it. The Bone Clocks is an incredibly ambitious book and Slade House builds on the worldbuilding done there to just have a bit of a laugh. This is one for the Mitchell superfans.
Every nine years, someone is invited to Slade House and never returns. Slade House tells the story of this strange place from 1975 until 2015 as a range of people come to the house and we discover more and more about the mystery at its core. I won’t say more than that. Slade House is a tightly focused book, taking place entirely on one small road in London, with a range of interesting characters narrating their experiences in the house. Probably the worst thing about The Bone Clocks was the jargon heavy and somewhat clumsy worldbuilding, but with that foundation now built Slade House is able simply to have fun with it. Without the need to have someone explain Atemporals and Horologists you can just focus on the story, which is a doozy.
Mitchell captures the camp fun of vampire movies in Slade House, whilst not necessarily pulling back from the horror. It’s a tricky balance to pull off but Slade House does it well. The range of protagonists helps keep things interesting, even though we essentially see the same thing happen about five times. The first character is an autistic boy, whose unique world view is both amusing and touching. The next is a xenophobic divorced policeman. Third is Sally Timms, an insecure and overweight student. Finally there’s Freya, Sally’s much more successful journalist sister. I won’t tell you anything about the final character because…well, if you read it you’ll see why. Every character was enjoyable to follow and was like a classic full Mitchell novel in microcosm.
Slade House is a breezy and enjoyable romp, at least by Mitchell standards. I’m looking forward to Mitchell’s next epic, but I quite like the idea of him putting out the odd lighter novella between them. Slade House is definitely one for Mitchell completionists, although it may rely too much on The Bone Clocks arcana to be accessible to those who haven’t read it. If you have, give Slade House a go!