Imagine walking into a house that you never realized was there before, and by the time you realize that you are in great danger, it’s too late to leave. That’s the basic premise for David Mitchell’s horror story, “Slade House.”
Described by The Guardian as “‘The Bone Clocks’s naughty little sister in a fright wig,” the novel follows a house run by twins with mystical abilities who, every nine years, open it to lure specific individuals to feast on their souls; souls from such unique and different individuals that are satisfying in the ongoing goal for immortality for the twins. Three individuals- an offbeat teenage boy, a divorced police officer, and an insecure college freshman- fall victim to the duel tyrants, before their origin story begins to unfold, and the beginning of the end starts to take shape.
“Slade House” derives from a short story Mitchell published via his Twitter account in 2014, shortly before the release of his sixth novel, “The Bone Clocks.” Reading through it now, one may see how the short story has evolved into what has become the first part of this mind-boggling horror story. I completely missed out on the short story by the time I realized what he was tweeting, which was why I went into this book with generally no expectations.
Horror is not exactly my cup of tea. The act of being scared just for the sake of being scared has never been to my appeal. But similar to the victims of the Slade House, by the time I realized what I was getting myself into, it was too late to turn back… and that was actually fine by me, for I wanted to keep going forward. “Slade House” is an ultimate page-turner, for the end of every part makes you want to know what happens next. Even by the time I arrived on the last page, I was still wondering what happens next.
Apart from its dark story, the novel has all the elements that fans of Mitchell’s work will be able to fall right into; such as head nods to people, places and events from his previous novels, jumping through time, interconnected characters, and the continual build-up from “The Bone Clocks” of a soul-infested war that even the most innocent of bystanders get caught up in.
It’s a haunting tale that, I also feel, haunts a little too long. Three out of the five sections of the book follow three people as they fall victim to the soul-eating twins, and it’s only the last two where we see the beginning of a resolution. If anything, I would have included an additional section to the fall of the tyrants, just to even out the pacing and the storyline a little bit.
Some may argue otherwise, but I found “Slade House” to be another thrilling read by Mitchell… and something tells me that this won’t be the last we hear of these characters.