‘Slade House’ by David Mitchell – Haunted, but Humorous

‘Slade House’ by David Mitchell (2015) – 238 pages

 

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Slade Alley is an easy-to-miss back lane off of Westwood Road.  Once on Slade Alley you will come upon a black iron door, only two-feet by two-feet, on the side of a dwelling that you must crawl through to get into Slade House.  But once you are inside, the rooms are huge and ornate despite the house having been bombed to rubble during World War II.

Here is a haunted house story.  A pair of ancient shape-shifting twins, Jonah and Norah Grayer, live in Slade House, and every nine years they must find an Engifted soul to drain from a human in order to rejuvenate themselves.   Thus all the chapters occur nine years apart (1979, 1988, 1997, 2006, 2015) as another unsuspecting soul stumbles into Slade House.

Here is another example of the many entertainments playing horror for laughs which are so prevalent today.  David Mitchell is a delight at setting up these situations, and ‘Slade House’ is great fun to read.  Only a few of us readers would expect more from David Mitchell than a mock-horror romp.

Even the cut-out window on the cover of the book tells you it was designed to move product.   This is an attempt to earn some big money by one of our best writers.  And why not?  Why should the big money in the book publishing business be restricted to hacks?

‘Slade House’ is a lark, a pastiche.  For what it is, this humorous haunted story is remarkably well done. I have little doubt you will enjoy reading it.  The question is whether or not one of our very finest writers should be spending his time writing such tried-and-true material.  Perhaps he should, in order for our literary writers to reclaim the mantle of popularity.  We certainly do not need another novel of contemporary suburban angst anyway.  But at the same time I have a vision of David Mitchell sitting at his desk writing ‘Slade House’ in his sleep.  This haunted house and its trappings were probably not much of a challenge for him.

Perhaps he can make enough money off of ‘Slade House’ so he can write something more original next time.

 

Grade: B+

 

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7 responses to this post.

  1. LOL I hadn’t been paying enough attention when I bought my copy of this, which I did on the strength of Cloud Atlas and Mitchell’s other good (but not brilliant) novels. (Cloud Atlas is on a pinnacle of its own, IMO).
    I’m almost dreading reading Slade – I was looking forward to it until I started to hear the doubtful murmurings about it.
    If it turns out badly for me as it has for others, it will be counter-productive for Mitchell because he will become a wait-and-see author instead of an automatic buy-it author.

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    • Hi Lisa,
      I have not yet gotten around to ‘Cloud Atlas’, which I know is too bad for me. ‘Slade House’ is easy to like, but I expect a bit more from a writer such as David Mitchell. To me it was somewhat reminiscent of Stephen King, perish the thought. But, above all, ‘Slade House’ is likable, and it should do well in the Christmas sales.

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  2. I love Mitchell, glad to hear this one is enjoyable since it seems like something so out of the usual for him. Maybe he wrote it because he needed a break from the kinds of books he usually writes?

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    • Hi Stefanie,
      ‘Slade House’ is an entirely likable book which should do well in the Christmas market. The only other David Mitchell I’ve read was ‘Black Swan Green’ which I thought was better than Slade House, because it was more original. I must read ‘Cloud Atlas’ one of these days.

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  3. I love Mitchell, but I’m not enthused by the release of this book. I think it’s too early. I want to miss reading him, so I guess I’ll put off reading this until he starts working on something new.

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    • Hi Angus,
      That sounds like a reasonable strategy to me. ‘Slade House’ might be more of a Christmas present than a novel. It might be a good introduction to David Mitchell for people who ordinarily don’t read David Mitchell.

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