Title: Slade House
Author: David Mitchell
Genre: Fiction / horror / fantasy
Rating: 3.5 / 5
This was another one of those “thought it looked interesting and shortish and my university library had a copy.” It’s kind of gothic in that there’s a big old creepy house, but I feel like it would appeal more to people who like vampire stories, because that’s basically what it is.
It’s kind of like short stories–a chapter for each character, a complete story in itself, almost–but they are far too interconnected to be just short stories; it’s definitely a novel. But at the same time, it doesn’t feel all that developed either.
I think this would be a great October read. It’s spooky, but it’s not actually all that scary–or at least, not the kind of scary that keeps me up at night or makes me worry in any way. It’s atmospheric and sets a good, creepy tone. It’s about haunted houses and dark magic and some predatory Victorian twins. So yeah, perfect for Halloween times.
The writing was quite good, but I don’t think the story was enough to sustain a book, even if it is kind of short. At first it’s kind of going nowhere, with vague yet heavy-handed foreshadowing for the first three chapters–same story, different people. Then in the fourth chapter, there’s an info dump, and suddenly the fifth chapter wraps it all up, introducing other players/movements it wasn’t even really possible to guess at prior to the chapter, tidily wrapping things up–a little too deus ex machina for me. And anticlimactic. I know that this book is apparently tied somehow to The Bone Clocks–maybe it all would have made a little more sense if I’d read that first, but I didn’t, and the book isn’t labeled as being part of “The Bone Clocks whatever”–I learned they were related after finishing it, from a review. So. Still think it’s kind of lazy.
I just didn’t feel like there was much of a point to it. I enjoyed reading it, especially in the beginning–even parts of the last two disappointing chapter were great. But the reason it “only” gets 3.5 stars despite being a greater reading experience than that is that, ultimately, it just wasn’t very satisfying. And not even unsatisfying in a satisfying way. It felt like it was trying to be satisfying but was kind of contrived on that score.
Definitely read it to give yourself a eerie atmosphere. It is well written and pretty interesting–but the way the whole thing was wrapped up was just…a little less than interesting. Based on the writing, I know the author could have done better with the ending, and I wish he had chosen to. I know it sounds like I’m being kind of harsh, but 3.5 stars is halfway between “I liked it” and “I really liked it,” so… you know… I liked it.