Mitchell's 'Slade House' is Scarier Than Your Costume
This book was provided by NetGalley & Random House
While Halloween is hardly a holiday that compels one to retreat to the couch and curl up with a good book, if you read something before whatever event you’re planning to attend that scares you, you’ll be motivated to stay out longer for fear of going to bed. Daylight savings induced dread? You’re welcome; I just provided the perfect solution. Today’s topic is a fantastic new book by an author I’ve previously reviewed on the site, the inimitable David Mitchell. He released a 600-page tour de force, Bone Clocks, just this past June, and was already published again by October 27th, with Slade House. It’s only 152 pages, so you don’t have much of an excuse not to read it.
If you’re not familiar with David Mitchell’s work, it certainly merits an introduction, which I also feel I need to back up with a personal disclaimer. I do not like science fiction or fantasy books. I hated Redwall [duh, it’s about an army of mice?], never got into The Golden Compass series, and let’s not even start on The Lord of the Rings. HOWEVER, David Mitchell’s books involve quite a healthy dose of fantasy, particularly this book. But don't let it deter you; it's all presented in manageable [and skippable] sections. Before I lose you, let’s get to the plot…
The book opens to a young British boy, Noah, and his mother searching desperately for a place called Slade House [therein lies the titular inspiration], where the mother, a music teacher, has been invited to perform for Lady Norah Grayer. They ask a window cleaner down the path where to find it, but he has no idea what they’re talking about [I swear that tidbit becomes relevant]. They find the house, and Noah instantly befriends Jonah, Lady Grayer’s son. Things are going swimmingly for mother and son…until they vanish without a trace. Years later, the window cleaner, who was hit by a taxi and knocked into a coma the same day the now missing mother and son asked him for directions, awakens. In combing through the papers to see what he missed while unconscious, Pink happens upon the mysterious tale of their disappearance; not a single lead had mentioned Slade House. So, Pink goes to the police, where Detective Gordon Edmonds is put on the case. Gordon enters Slade House and finds nothing amiss; in fact, he befriends the woman currently living there—who’s never heard of Lady Norah Grayer—but he never returns. Nothing happens for nine years, until a group of students in a “Paranormal Society” at Cambridge decide to visit the legendary house on Halloween night…and when they discover what goes on behind the black iron Slade House door, none of them return to tell the tale.
If you don’t feel inclined to read the paragraph above, in sum: the story centers around the mysterious disappearances of everyone who enters a place called Slade House and spans a series of decades. It’s a short and satisfying read, though the fantasy stuff gets a bit weird around the end. If we’re being honest, once I got the gist of that side of the plot, I skipped a few pages until the book reverted to normal Fiction ground. If you don’t have time to sit down and knock out 150 pages today, just read this post and pretend you read the book. A trick and a treat.
Other recommended scary reads: The Lottery, The Shining [the movie didn't scare me...the book definitely did], We Have Always Lived In the Castle, In a Dark, Dark Wood [previously reviewed]