Slade House

Really, the only thing I know about David Mitchell is that he wrote a book called Cloud Atlas and it became a movie wherein actors portrayed people of a race not their own, which is supremely messed up, especially since this is the twenty-first century.  Then again, celebrities are bound to show up in brownface, blackface, and yellowface for Halloween this year.

Now more than ever, I'm beginning to understand hermits.

However, it's not David Mitchell's fault that they decided to make actors be made up as different races in the movie.  I believe the concept of Cloud Atlas has to do with souls moving through time but in different bodies.  Mitchell seems quite enamored of this concept of the soul, and it forms a central part in his new novel, Slade House.

I am not in love with this book, as I passionately have loved so many others.  Rather, I feel that we have formed a deep and warm relationship, something cozy and dear.  Horror stories tend to do that to me, I'm afraid.  No wonder all the online tests say I'm a Slytherin.  However, this is the very thing to read on a windy autumn night, preferably with tea.  Cats and dogs are, of course, optional, and I am limited by my lease (NO PETS).  While Slade House won't completely creep you out, it will leave you in a kind of pleasant daze induced by the neat little story hidden within the tiny gate to Slade House.

Every nine years, on Halloween night, a small, narrow door becomes visible in Slade Alley.  The majority of people would never notice it; then again, the majority of people would never be in Slade Alley to begin with.  Personally, I wouldn't go into a twisty-turny dank alley near a scuzzy pub without a platoon of Marines backing me up, but this character study is of desperate people.

In 1979, young Nathan Bishop and his mother Rita, a pianist, hurry down the street in their best clothes--bought from charity shops--to a party held by Lady Norah.  Nathan is autistic, but is pleased to find a boy around his age, Jonah, at the rather vast Slade House.  How does the house fit in the middle of that block again... no matter.  Jonah doesn't judge Nathan.  They just play.  But it's only a game for one of them, truly.  And his twin sister.

Every nine years, someone sees the door.  That person is never seen again.  They are connected by a man named Fred Pink--a workman who spoke to Nathan and Rita right before they entered Slade Alley.  Gave them directions, even.  But then, poor Fred stepped into the street and was hit by a lorry and fell into a coma.  For nine years.

In addition to Fred Pink, visitors to Slade Alley should beware of a jogger in orange and black.  Cats stalk the alley and Slade House itself.  Possibly.  What is real and what is illusion?

Or rather, in the words of Norah and Jonah, what is the orison this time?  The shadow-house?  The puppets inhabited by the souls of these two twins seeking immortality?

Although it may feel as though Mitchell reveals his hand too early in the game, after reading the book, you'll realize that he's been playing you all along.

His characters, even though they appear briefly, are strongly drawn and vivid.  The atmosphere is stunning: moody and foggy and so very London--and yet eerie and otherworldly.  And who doesn't dream of finding a concealed door to another place and time?  Slade House will teach you to think twice about opening it.

I received an ARC of this title from Netgalley.


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