There is something uniquely thrilling about opening the first page of a David Mitchell novel. The never knowing where he is going to take you. Slade House is a companion novel to the 2014 masterpiece, The Bone Clocks and it doesn’t disappoint. At around 240 pages, it is considerably smaller than Mitchell’s usual epics but that doesn’t detract from the quality of characters that frequent the pages.
This book should be kept until you have a weekend free one October, when the nights are drawing in and rain is lashing against the windowpanes to set the mood as you set foot on the strange path of the goings on at Slade House.
Mitchell is a hard one to review because his works carry such imagination that it would be to do his talent disservice by reducing the plot down to a few hundred words.
What is worthy of mention is his continued knack of characterisation. Mitchell has that rare gift of being able to write from the point of view of pretty much anyone. He has displayed this in earlier works, most famously Cloud Atlas. His quirky style of stitching together short stories is so accessible. Mitchell himself comments that he would not be able to hold one big story in his head so he writes a number of short stories that are linked together. He is probably being a little coy about his abilities but this approach serves to give the books an addictive quality that is unique. The reader sits there with pots by the sink, washing in the machine and missed calls on their phone repeating, “I’ll just finish this bit then I will leap into action”, only to find the next bit as alluring as the last and before they know it, it’s getting dark and bedsores are imminent.
That is the best type of writing, addictive, guiltless and thought provoking. Long may Mitchell continue to enthrall us with his bizarre world that could, just could, be true.