Slade House by David Mitchell
Slade House came into being on twitter. A short 280-tweet story formed and from there Mitchell found his way into his latest novel. Slade House is a short novel and could be read as a collection of stories, all revolving around a mysterious house hidden away in Slade Alley.
Beginning in 1979 and ending in 2015, the book opens with the aforementioned twitter story, fleshed out and developed for the novel. Young Nathan and his mother are invited to a soiree at the house, a police detective investigates some old missing persons cases and is invited into the house by a beautiful widow, a bunch of university students find themselves at a party there, a journalist follows a story that leads her to Slade Alley, and a psychiatrist researching an academic paper is given information that requires a visit.
Slade House is a ghost story of sorts, but the world Mitchell creates is far stranger than that. Readers familiar with his previous novel, The Bone Clocks, will know the world of this novel well as it mines the same territory, with time and space behaving in unusual ways and souls entering bodies not their own. Mitchell writes well, and apart from a couple of clunky moments of exposition-heavy dialogue this weird and imaginative tale is compelling.
Slade House can be read as a stand-alone novel but readers might get more from it by reading The Bone Clocks first. Mitchell has a habit of referencing his other books, with places and characters appearing again in later novels. A little gift, perhaps, to readers in the know, and astute readers here will recognise a character from The Bone Clocks and have a clue to the ending before it arrives.
Readers might also like to check out @I_Bombadil on twitter where one of the characters from Slade House has taken on a life of their own and the next novel may very well be unfolding tweet by increasingly strange tweet.
Deborah Crabtree is a bookseller at Readings Carlton.