Slade House

David Mitchell. Random, $26 (256p) ISBN 978-0-8129-9868-9
Mitchell’s latest novel is his shortest and lightest to date, and it functions as a sort of entry-level offering from the author of hugely ambitious novels such as Cloud Atlas and The Bone Clocks. Unfortunately, it gives Mitchell’s fans far too little of a good thing. Tucked into an alley behind a British dive bar is the sprawling and mysterious Slade House, inhabited by the soul-eating, shape-shifting Grayer Twins. In episodes that begin in 1979 and end in the present, they lure a succession of human hosts into their Wonderland-like abode. First there’s a geeky teen and his mother, then a hard-boiled detective and a crew of New Wave ghost hunters, followed by a backstory-heavy section framed as an interview with an expert on the case. All will eventually enter the mind-bending architecture of Slade House and engage in psychic warfare with its denizens. There is a solid haunted-house book in here somewhere, but it’s wedged intermittently into a surfeit of quirk, repetition, and esoteric dialogue that’s very hard to take seriously without a more solid foundation. It all builds up to the requisite wizard duel between the Twins and the formidable Iris Marinus-Levy, who will be familiar to readers of The Bone Clocks. The high degree of self-reference—and the skipping through genre and time—is trademark Mitchell, but the constant rehashing of what is already a pretty thin plot means that this offering fails to really stand up on its own, or to add anything new to the Mitchell-verse. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 07/13/2015
Release date: 10/27/2015
Genre: Fiction
Compact Disc - 978-1-101-92367-2
Hardcover - 240 pages - 978-0-345-81019-9
Hardcover - 978-1-4104-8374-4
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