First things first – I still haven’t read The Bone Clocks. But if anything this companion book has encouraged me to just hurry up and get on with it. My enjoyment of Slade House was not diminished by the fact I hadn’t read The Bone Clocks, though I may go back and read it again to better appreciate the connections I will have missed.
Even if you never intend on reading The Bone Clocks, I would still more than recommend Slade House. It’s one of those stories that’s made all the more effective by its simplicity and its short but succinct chapters. The premise is of a mysterious house, to which unsuspecting victims are lured once every nine years, in order for its paranormal inhabitants to use their souls to feed their immortality. The book is split into five chapters, each exploring a different victim and their journey to Slade House, beginning in 1979 and ending in 2015.
It’s difficult to describe why I liked this book so much without giving too much away. So here are a few brief points.
- It was nice and short. I read it over the course of a few days but it could easily be read in one sitting if you have the time. But this didn’t detract from the plot or characterisation. It made a refreshing change from all the trilogies and weighty tomes that seem to be around at the moment. I feel like it’s almost impossible sometimes to find a standalone book within the fantasy/magical realism genre. Like Slade House itself, this book seemed to blink in and out of existence while still leaving a lasting impression.
- It was deliciously creepy from the word go. The first victim, Nathan, is a sad little boy and I just knew that things weren’t going to end well for him…
- I expected each chapter to be quite samey and the book as a whole to be quite repetitive, as I knew the same thing would happen to the next victim. I thought that the whole thing might end up therefore being a bit of a disappointment. But I was very wrong. There’s a lovely little twist in chapter 4, and the 5th and final chapter was a different perspective altogether.
- The novel evolved from Twitter Fiction – a short story I read on Mitchell’s Twitter feed and wrote about a couple of years ago. I love it when a story just won’t sit still, when it takes on a life of its own and becomes something more, as often happens when writing.
Ghostly beings, ghost hunters, unsuspecting victims, a neat little Victorian backstory, a twist in the narration and a disappearing house, all wrapped up in a couple of hundred pages – and a delightful front cover that just begs to be opened.