House of Mystery: Slade House Review

By Lilly Metcalfe

Staff Writer

A magical estate, soul-sucking vampires and disappearing victims are all key elements in “Slade House,” a novel by David Mitchell that ties them all together in an eerie tale of five characters that independently experience the supernatural.

The tale takes place in chronological order from 1979 to 2015. The purpose of the author inserting the dates in the novel is crucial in emphasizing the age of the owners of the Slade House and is used to create suspense.

Every few years, one of the five people tell their tale of discovering Slade Alley. Shortly after their discovery of the mysterious British alley, they disappear and their souls are stolen from them. After the first victim, the reader is intoxicated with the suspense of whether or not the next four will be able to make it out. This heightened level of suspense is due to the gripping narration of the victims describing their final moments before they were murdered.

The story is full of mystery and most readers will be clueless as to why these people are being lured into a death trap until the conclusion. This may discourage some, but it does make one want to continue reading to discover the answer.

The resolution, though, could have been done better. It felt as if the author scraped together some explanation and hastily placed it in an awkward section of the story. It was not hinted toward at any time in the novel, unlike most novels. Mitchell’s approach was not successful because he did not leave any “bread crumbs” in the mystery. The very end of the novel was even stranger, as it consisted of one confusing and long run-on passage.

Mitchell did accomplish something interesting and unique, however—before the novel was released, he posted the first chapter on Twitter. He did this to control how fast the audience read it and to help them digest the material. Whenever he was inspired on what should come next in the story, he posted another Tweet.

Even though Mitchell became successful enough to complete an entire novel, starting a writing career through social media may not be for everyone.

The novel seems to make two main statements. The first is that humans are determined to survive as long as they can and the second is that the human mind can do amazing things but can be easily tricked. It was interesting to witness both subjects explored in the protagonists and antagonists.

Overall, the novel was different from most others as it leaves readers in continual suspense. There were some aspects that could be improved upon, but as a whole it was a nice read to view different perspectives of the victims and the antagonist at the end.

The flyer gives this novel a 6/10.

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Comments

  1. This reads like a book report by a student who only skimmed the text and didn’t bother to learn anything about the author ahead of time.

    First of all, this isn’t Mitchell’s first book, and he didn’t launch his writing career via social media. He’s a well regarded author who released a short story via twitter to promote his previous book, The Bone Clocks.

    That’s crucial because this book takes place in the same universe as The Bone Clocks, and yes, there WAS a significant “trail of breadcrumbs” leading to the novel’s last chapter. If you’d actually read the book, or paid attention, that would have been clear. The first four people who are lured into Slade House are prey, but the fifth is a predator who presented herself as prey.

    The “owners” of the house are immortals who lure unsuspecting victims inside, create elaborate and cruel traps for them, then when the victim is in the depths of despair, the owners swoop in and consume their souls. They do this because they feed on the souls to fuel their immortality, and they feed once every nine years — thus the importance of the dates and the structure of the novel.

    This is made clear from the very first chapter, and the fourth chapter practically shouts it out in glowing neon, which is why I’m seriously skeptical that you actually read the book.

    Also, you confused stylized prose for run on sentences. The section you mentioned is intentionally written that way to convey that the narrator was in shock and experiencing rapid degradation of her mental faculties. The sudden shift from the highly structured, clever narration of an exceptionally intelligent — yet supremely overconfident — character to confused, disjointed narration is meant to convey to us, the readers, just how badly the character had been injured.

    I don’t mean to be harsh, but it’s not fair to dismiss a book like this if you didn’t take the time to read it.

    Like

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