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Review: Slade House by David Mitchell

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Slade House

David Mitchell

The sides of good and evil blur in “Slade House”, this slim ghost story novel by David Mitchell (The Bone Clocks, 2014).

“Slade House” comes together through a series of short stories, taking place every nine years from 1979 and ending in 2015. The main connection between each story is the Grayer twins, Jonah and Norah. The twins lure in some special visitors to their house, in order to consume their soul, thus they become known as soul vampires. There are subtle mentions of creatures or beings similar to them that might not be so happy with the things they are doing, and these little tidbits of information are offered throughout each chapter in an attempt to reveal more about the overall story.

Each chapter stands alone well enough, and in fact the novel could be construed as a series of short stories that happen to rollover, one onto the next. All of them are enjoyable to read, they’re a little bit creepy, you want to find out what happens, but there is nothing actually scary about the book. In fact, it reads more like a twisted fantasy, especially when the final two chapters roll around.

The final chapters are where this book takes on the strange and fantastical, but not exactly in a good way. A character divulges large snippets of information meant to help readers understand the metaphysical nuances of the book, when it would be much preferred if the book had simply been elongated in order to naturally reveal this. In the final chapter, the reader is given the tale from the twins’ perspective, when at last the “good” counterpart of their dark and secret society comes calling. This other eternal being preys on the soul vampires, dedicating their lives to making sure the innocent souls preyed upon by the so called vampires are no longer in danger.

Well written and witty, “Slade House” is a great book. I just wish it had spent more time between the two worlds of victim and vampire, instead of being so quickly wrapped up. Also, it seems weird to be rooting for the team that lures innocent people with psychological gifts into their home in order to feast on their souls, thereby trapping them in the home forever instead of allowing their souls to move on to…wherever. I rather think they weren’t truly doing it for selfish reasons, but to acquire knowledge or some ascension to, well I don’t know what. There is a character introduced towards the end of the book that resonates as a severely false note, contradicting what Mitchell seems to have set out to accomplish, thus leaving me with a sour taste in my mouth.

“Slade House” is definitely an interesting book, but it misses the mark by being too self-explanatory, misguided and quickly wrapped up.

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