Slade House by David Mitchell

You could describe Slade House as a series of interrelated horror tales, but slade housethe whole is much more than that.

In 1979, troubled teenager Nathan Bishop is getting dragged to a party by his mother. For her, it’s a particular thrill to be invited to a soirée from a vaguely upper-class brother and sister, the owners of Slade House.  What is very odd is the entry way to the estate – a smallish iron door located down an alley that most people ignore.  Needless to say, the Bishops don’t make it home that night.

Flash forward exactly nine years, when recently divorced policeman Gordon Edmonds is investigating a slim lead on the disappearance of Nathan and his mom.  He discovers the same iron door, and a delightfully flirty proprietor in the person of Chloe Chetwynd, a youngish widow who accepts Slade House as haunted, and Gordon as a suitor.  But this one night fling isn’t your typical one.

In 1997, overweight and shy Sally Timms joins an informal group of paranormal junkies whose next target is Slade House.  What they find there is a Halloween party beyond their wildest imaginings – and as it turns out, Sally’s wildest nightmares.

Nine years past this, Sally’s older sister Freya comes to interview an elderly man who knows the back story of Slade House better than anyone.  He tells a far-flung story of supernatural proportions to skeptical Freya, who finds herself accepting the unknown quicker than she’d like.

In the present time, geeky Bombadil gains an audience with renowned psychiatrist Iris Marinus-Fenby, whose interest in the goings-on at Slade House gets her and Bombadil entrance through the now-famous iron door.   But Slade House – always morphing into the fanciful – changes into something its owners never intended it to be.

Booker Prize-nominated Mitchell writes a subtle, yet scarily good yarn that addresses the desire for immortality and the lengths that some will go to attain it.   I have to admit saying “Whoa!” after reading it.  The book takes typical horror conventions and twists them into something new.  And the author gets into his character’s heads so nicely.  You feel the angsts of a disgruntled teenager, a bitter divorced cop, a picked-on college fat girl.  The tone of the book is very British-y, but that’s fine by me.

Choose your invitations carefully.

(William Hicks, Information Services)

 

 

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One Response

  1. I skimmed your review as I’ve just started this one! Looking forward to it.

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