Prepare to be chilled, electrified and entertained - a gem of a novel from 'one of the most brilliantly inventive writers of this, or any country' (Independent).
Walk down narrow, clammy Slade Alley. Open the black iron door in the right-hand wall. Enter the sunlit garden of an old house that doesn't exactly make sense. A stranger greets you by name and invites you inside. At first, you won't want to leave. Too late, you find you can't....
A taut, intricately woven, reality-warping tale that begins in 1979 and comes to its turbulent conclusion at the wintry end of October 2015. Born out of the short story David Mitchell published on Twitter in 2014 and inhabiting the same universe as his latest best-selling novel The Bone Clocks, this is the perfect book to curl up with on a dark and stormy night.
©2015 David Mitchell (P)2015 Hodder & Stoughton
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"Good, but a bit disappointing for this fan....."
I usually rate Mitchell's books 5 star with no hesitation. My favourites are Jacob de Zoet and Cloud Atlas, I very much liked Bone Clocks, but I have enjoyed all the others on audible so much more than Slade House.
Since finishing my listen I have learned that this has been described as "an expanded short story." Not sure whether this helps explain my disappointment, but certainly I felt it lacked some of the richness of his more substantial novels. It still has one of Mitchell's trademarks - the multiple linked storylines, and there is plenty of wit on display as we steadily learn more about the psychic goings-on down the dark alley that occasionally leads to Slade House.
So, perhaps my problem was the narration, especially the first section. An adult trying to sound like a young person is rarely convincing and in this case, I found it grating on the ear. And I thought both narrators too often gave emphasis to the wrong word or phrase, which left me feeling they either didn't understand what Mitchell has written - or maybe that they were under too much pressure to get the job done without going back for edits.
If you are already a fan, and especially if you have read and enjoyed The Bone Clocks, do have a listen and make your own mind up. But if you are new to Mitchell's wonderful books, I would recommend listening to at least one of the others I have mentioned before this one.
"A pre- The Bone Clocks novel"
Intriguing and easy to listen to, with superb narration. It will be particularly interesting for those, who have already read The Bone Clocks.
"Classy Supernatural Tale"
This is a genuinely enjoyable tale with no little depth to it which includes a repeating cycle as its main theme. This is no Groundhog Day experience though, each time through the cycle is seen from a different perspective. Most of the repetition is in the form of haunting "signposts" which chill the reader but seem superfluous to the characters.
The narrators are excellent, Thomas Judd does such a good job that I am disappointed when Tania Rodrigues takes over. Not for long. She carries the story along perfectly taking each of her main characters through their cycle with aplomb and building the tension expertly.
If I have a criticism it's that the last two of the five chapters are not as genuinely chilling as the rest. However, the clever juxtaposition of character perspective is very clever and the reveal in chapter four really did creep up on me.
The ending itself I found satisfying but I think will split opinions a little.
When all is said and done though, in my book this is very worthy of a credit.
"David Mitchell is a Genius"
I don't think DM could write a bad sentence. Every line seems to contain within in it the premise for a whole other novel. His imagination is off the scale dazzling and enchanting. I read Slade House twice savouring the second time because I whizzed through it the first. It's scary, intriguing and brilliant. If you love The Bone Clocks then you'll welcome a snapshot into the claustrophobic world of Slade House. Highly recommended.
"A great listen with a slightly disappointing endin"
Thomas Judd is one of my favourite voice artists and his rendition of "Nathan" at the beginning of this novel is excellent. Slade House is a "short story" but it's a proper novella so there's time for the story to develop even though it isn't overlong.
It's hard to have a favourite, since the overarching characters are the horrible ones. I did like the way that Nathan was written though, and I thought Sally was the most sympathetic.
The performance by Thomas Judd of an aspergers child was extremely sympathetic and very well done.
No, it isn't that sort of book
This is a "horror" story by genre, but it's really a thriller mystery with some ghostly horror thrown in. But for the absolute last gasp paragraph or two I would have given it 5 stars, I just didn't like the ending, but that is totally personal preference.
With each new chapter, a new character is drawn to Slade House.
With each new chapter, a little more is revealed about what is going on in Slade House and this reader/listener tried to anticipate the outcome... but was still surprised.
Repetition is used to great effect. There are some genuine shocks here.
Like all his work. Amazing, read it now. Carries on from the bone clocks with ease
"If you enjoy Mitchell's other novels you'll love this."
I was initially lured into David Mitchell's worlds by Blackswan Green and ever since have eagerly awaited his next novel. This doesn't disappoint. It's a gripping story with the reoccurrence of characters events from the other novels that I always get a bit of a thrill.
The book is divided in to sections each 9 years apart and narrated by a different character. Mitchell really nails both the voice of the character and the feel of the point in time in which they are set.
The audiobook gets the balance between performance and reading just about right.
As good as your average mid season horror/mystery. You won't be bored, but you wont be that surprised either.
Skip to the last sentence of the last paragraph, turn left, back away slowly and that’s my review in a nutshell, no greater harm done to the reader. If you start from the beginning, however, you might notice that I’m rambling. Help is on its way.
The thing is, people keep telling me it’s already a year since ”The Bone Clocks”, David Mitchell’s latest lengthy metaphysical romp à la ”Cloud Atlas”, but I just can’t believe it. Surely it was just yesterday that I finished it, and I had to have it the day it came out. Time is out of joint, surely. Warped, even.
Yet so it goes that again, as my drives to work grow darker morning after another, and the black starlit sky makes it seem like the moon’s floating so close it’s there for the taking, Mr Mitchell starts to reappear in my dreams. This time it’s a shorter piece, a ”companion volume” to last year’s osseous timepiece. One might be tempted to disregard this one as a mere trifling afterthought, but that’s not exactly appropriate. The thing is, no matter how much I like his books, I just found ”The Bone Clocks” too long. I felt like it had said what there was to be said, and still kept saying it. Or then I’m just a git. Be that as it may, the slender appearance of ”Slade House” sure was inviting.
The premise is delicious. A mysterious ghost story of a haunted house that seems to exist in a sort of parallel, metaphysical dimension that’s only occasionally accessible. Wonderful stuff!
The book gets on wonderfully. ”The Right Sort” is irresistibly tasty. The constant sense of something askew lingers behind every page. Everything about it is perfect. ”Shining Armour” is almost as good. These stories attack you right away. No explanations, not even an attempt at a discussion or a friendly warning. It is indeed the sort of work the dark evenings of late autumn and winter were created for. In terms of its metaphysical aspirations it wouldn’t be too dissimilar to Philip K. Dick’s explorations of reality, or Murakami’s wild existential labyrinths. But on the other hand, it aligns itself well with the classical tradition of literary horror, be it Western (Lovecraft, Poe) or Asian (”Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio”, ”Tales of Moonlight and Rain”).
But by the third story, ”Oink Oink”, it has become apparent exactly how deep-rooted ”Slade House” is in ”The Bone Clocks”. This means that ultimately the mystery aspect vanishes, and almost half of the work is spent waiting how the inevitable resolution, itself equally apparent as seen in the context of last year’s novel, will pan out. ”You Dark Horse You” and ”Astronaut” wrap the story up, but now it’s become more exposition than anything, and the nature of the novel has changed dramatically. The suspense is gone.
As such, I admit I’m let down. Three-fifths of a great thing leaves so much to be desired for since you know how good the whole thing would have tasted. I felt like a new and adventurous road was opening up ahead of me, only turning into the one I travel to work every single day. I seriously need to listen to ”Black Swan Green” to try to get back on track, since this is the second Mitchell in a row I’ve been critical about. Help is on its way.
The work of Thomas Judd and Tania Rodrigues warrants mention. Although I’m not too partial to Rodrigues’s delivery of ”Oink Oink”, what’s good about their narration is how they’re treading with a light step, something inherent in the text as well. This feels, after all, a bit like the hypersensory extravagance of ”Hausu” (1977), where everything in the genre comes together, goes through a whirl in a blender and is splattered on the wall in an explosion of style and characterization. At times, though, it feels a bit too elaborate, a similar problem I’m having with Dick Hill’s reading of ”Against the Day”, whose performance everybody seems to love.
I think much will be written about whether ”Slade House” is really a novel, a novella, a collection of short stories or something else entirely. But as a work of fiction, it keeps it short and sweet, at least for the most part. Those who have been enthusiastic about ”The Bone Clocks” will probably be enthusiastic about ”Slade House” much for the same reasons.
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