David Mitchell is one of my favorite writers, and this book didn’t disappoint. If you’re looking for a creepy haunted house story, this one is eerie and at times terrifying. This short novel is also a companion to his recent The Bone Clocks, and I think in that regard it’s a little less successful. But then the whole Horology story-line in The Bone Clocks lost me at times so I didn’t really love it here.
Where Mitchell always excels is in imagery and character development. He really makes you feel like you’re there – and believe me, Slade House is not a place you want to be. I loved the characters in this book, from the possibly-autistic boy in the first chapter who is told by his mother to “act Normal”, to the insecure college student in love with her friend, to the journalist who’s just trying to find out what happened to her sister.
Here’s when you might start finding this book disturbing. In the first chapter, a boy is looking for his mother in Slade House, and he walks up this dark staircase looking at the portraits on the walls.
I take two or three steps and draw level with the last portrait.
Which is me. Me, Nathan Bishop…
Wearing exactly what I’m wearing now. This tweed jacket. This bow-tie. Only in the picture, I’ve got no eyes. That’s my big nose, the zit on my chin I’ve had all week, my scarring from the mastiff under my ear, but no eyes.
I also loved the way each chapter builds upon the previous one. At first I thought these were going to be short unconnected stories, but you see quickly how connected they are. And in each one you learn more about what’s happening.
Like most great horror stories, you never know what’s real and what’s not real in this book, at least until it’s too late.
I should say that I love books set in the U.K., as this one is. So that was a plus for me. Mitchell’s books can be pretty heavy on British terminology, which I never mind.
As I said, the connection to The Bone Clocks was sort of the least interesting part of the story for me. This occurs mostly in the last chapter, which was my least favorite. That means this book didn’t end with a bang for me, but the rest of it was just so good it didn’t matter.
Saying more about this book would give away too much. So I’ll leave you with this. If you loved The Bone Clocks, or if you love a good haunted house story, this is a short read that may keep you up at night. Highly recommended.
Note: I received an advance copy of this book from NetGalley and publisher Random House The book will be published October 27, 2015.
I also read this book for the RIP X Event.