Slade House is the most recently published novel by David Mitchell, the author of Cloud Atlas. It got rave reviews in the papers and I liked his first book, so I thought I might as well try it. Slade House has a similar layout to Cloud Atlas in that each chapter (and their’s only six) is a different story. They all fall under the same story umbrella and concern two characters in particular, but each chapter has its own beginning, middle, and end. Unlike Cloud Atlas, Slade House, is a ghost story that takes place throughout the past three decades. This is what really intrigued me about the work and the main reason why I purchased it.
As I said, there are six chapters to Slade House, and each involve a person or group of people who gain entry into Slade House from Slade Alley that is only available every nine years. The house is occupied by two twin: Jonah and Nora Grayer. We don’t learn of their names until the the third chapter or so. And their lives’ story isn’t revealed until the second to the last chapter. I won’t go into it right now, but lets just say the Grayer twins are exceptional individuals who have magical gifts. In a nutshell, in order to live forever, the Grayers have to suck a spirit out of specific people every nine years. This spirit sustains their life forms for nine years until they have to get a new one, which is mainly where the book comes into play.
Mitchell’s style of writing is exceptionally fluid and short and concise. The book is only 238 pages and it took me maybe five days to totally read. I really enjoy the concept that every chapter is a story in and of itself. It allows for quick reading in that you can read one chapter at a time and complete a whole story. This is especially the case when it comes to ghost stories for each chapter tells a separate disappearance of an individual. Mitchell has a way of telling tales and I really enjoyed this book and how he wove the tales together to make an umbrella story.
The only real complaint I have about the novel is the lack of explanation and confusion over magical terminology. The history of the Grayer twins was really interesting, but there were quite a few magical things that they mentioned that are crucial to the story that I didn’t quite understand or were underdeveloped. How they made their bodies and concocted the world to fool their victims was lost on me. I think Mitchell could have spent more time on developing this portion of the story for it was pivotal.
In the end, I really enjoyed it and liked this book much more than Cloud Atlas. If you are in the mood for a ghost and magical story that doesn’t get weird like some of the science fiction stories I have read, totally pick this one up. It is an interesting story, something that hasn’t been done in the past and is a fast read (double plus). Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.