I bought Slade House as an Audible Daily Deal for two reasons: 1. Relatively short ghost story with intriguing premise, yay!; 2. I am a dumb-butt and genuinely thought I’d read and enjoyed something by David Mitchell before… aaand I was thinking of The Five People You Meet In Heaven by Mitch Albom. Oops.
Still, I’m entirely glad I did, because Slade House is a wonderfully creepy little story that I could happily have listened to for much longer. Horror is one of my big two genres, right up alongside crime fiction, but it’s very rarely actually scary. I think the last book to keep me up at night was The Living Dead anthology edited by John Joseph Adams, and that was a good five years ago. Slade House didn’t quite give me nightmares, but it was genuinely atmospheric and frequently caught me out with each terrifying new twist.
The premise is repetitive but solid: every nine years, someone new is lured to the mysterious Slade House, never to be seen again. The penultimate chapter is essentially a massive infodump of backstory, but it still packed a powerfully creepy punch. I didn’t realise until after finishing that Slade House has ties to Mitchell’s previous novel, The Bone Clocks. There are some clearly developed concepts – apertures, operandi, lacunas – that I understand originated there, but I think they’re all explained well enough to make sense within just the context of Slade House.
As mentioned, I listened to the Audible version, narrated by Tania Rodrigues and Thomas Judd. Their performances were commendable – their command of voices was such that I was genuinely surprised to realise there wasn’t a bigger cast. Overall, Slade House made for an excellent listen, and I’ll definitely be on the lookout for more by David Mitchell in future.
[Read from 15-18 November 2016]