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Slade House
Cover of Slade House
Slade House
A Novel
Borrow Borrow
The New York Times bestseller by the author of The Bone Clocks and Cloud Atlas Named One of the Best Books of the Year by San Francisco Chronicle, NPR, Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, The Telegraph, National Post, BookPage, and Kirkus Reviews
Keep your eyes peeled for a small black iron door.
Down the road from a working-class British pub, along the brick wall of a narrow alley, if the conditions are exactly right, you’ll find the entrance to Slade House. A stranger will greet you by name and invite you inside. At first, you won’t want to leave. Later, you’ll find that you can’t. Every nine years, the house’s residents—an odd brother and sister—extend a unique invitation to someone who’s different or lonely: a precocious teenager, a recently divorced policeman, a shy college student. But what really goes on inside Slade House? For those who find out, it’s already too late. . . .
Spanning five decades, from the last days of the 1970s to the present, leaping genres, and barreling toward an astonishing conclusion, this intricately woven novel will pull you into a reality-warping new vision of the haunted house story—as only David Mitchell could imagine it.
Praise for Slade House
“A fiendish delight . . . Mitchell is something of a magician.”The Washington Post
“Entertainingly eerie . . . We turn to [Mitchell] for brain-tickling puzzle palaces, for character studies and for language.”Chicago Tribune
“A ripping yarn . . . Like Shirley Jackson’s Hill House or the Overlook Hotel from Stephen King’s The Shining, [Slade House] is a thin sliver of hell designed to entrap the unwary. . . . As the Mitchellverse grows ever more expansive and connected, this short but powerful novel hints at still more marvels to come.”San Francisco Chronicle
“Like Stephen King in a fever . . . manically ingenious.”The Guardian (U.K.)
“A haunted house story that savors of Dickens, Stephen King, J. K. Rowling and H. P. Lovecraft, but possesses more psychic voltage than any of them.”Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“Tightly crafted and suspenseful yet warmly human . . . the ultimate spooky nursery tale for adults.”The Huffington Post
The New York Times bestseller by the author of The Bone Clocks and Cloud Atlas Named One of the Best Books of the Year by San Francisco Chronicle, NPR, Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, The Telegraph, National Post, BookPage, and Kirkus Reviews
Keep your eyes peeled for a small black iron door.
Down the road from a working-class British pub, along the brick wall of a narrow alley, if the conditions are exactly right, you’ll find the entrance to Slade House. A stranger will greet you by name and invite you inside. At first, you won’t want to leave. Later, you’ll find that you can’t. Every nine years, the house’s residents—an odd brother and sister—extend a unique invitation to someone who’s different or lonely: a precocious teenager, a recently divorced policeman, a shy college student. But what really goes on inside Slade House? For those who find out, it’s already too late. . . .
Spanning five decades, from the last days of the 1970s to the present, leaping genres, and barreling toward an astonishing conclusion, this intricately woven novel will pull you into a reality-warping new vision of the haunted house story—as only David Mitchell could imagine it.
Praise for Slade House
“A fiendish delight . . . Mitchell is something of a magician.”The Washington Post
“Entertainingly eerie . . . We turn to [Mitchell] for brain-tickling puzzle palaces, for character studies and for language.”Chicago Tribune
“A ripping yarn . . . Like Shirley Jackson’s Hill House or the Overlook Hotel from Stephen King’s The Shining, [Slade House] is a thin sliver of hell designed to entrap the unwary. . . . As the Mitchellverse grows ever more expansive and connected, this short but powerful novel hints at still more marvels to come.”San Francisco Chronicle
“Like Stephen King in a fever . . . manically ingenious.”The Guardian (U.K.)
“A haunted house story that savors of Dickens, Stephen King, J. K. Rowling and H. P. Lovecraft, but possesses more psychic voltage than any of them.”Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“Tightly crafted and suspenseful yet warmly human . . . the ultimate spooky nursery tale for adults.”The Huffington Post
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Excerpts-
  • From the book

    The Right Sort 1979

    Whatever Mum's saying's drowned out by the grimy roar of the bus pulling away, revealing a pub called The Fox and Hounds. The sign shows three beagles cornering a fox. They're about to pounce and rip it apart. A street sign underneath says westwood road. Lords and ladies are supposed to be rich, so I was expecting swimming pools and Lamborghinis, but Westwood Road looks pretty normal to me. Normal brick houses, detached or semi­detached, with little front gardens and normal cars. The damp sky's the color of old hankies. Seven magpies fly by. Seven's good. Mum's face is inches away from mine, though I'm not sure if that's an angry face or a worried one.

    "Nathan? Are you even listening?" Mum's wearing make­up today. That shade of lipstick's called Morning Lilac but it smells more like Pritt Stick than lilacs. Mum's face hasn't gone away, so I say, "What?"

    "It's 'Pardon' or 'Excuse me.' Not 'What?' "

    "Okay," I say, which often does the trick.

    Not today. "Did you hear what I told you?"

    " 'It's "Pardon" or "Excuse me." Not "What?" ' "

    "Before that! I said, if anyone at Lady Grayer's asks how we came here, you're to tell them we arrived by taxi."

    "I thought lying was wrong."

    "There's lying," says Mum, fishing out the envelope she wrote the directions on from her handbag, "which is wrong, and there's creating the right impression, which is necessary. If your father paid what he's supposed to pay, we really would have arrived by taxi. Now . . ." Mum squints at her writing. "Slade Alley leads off Westwood Road, about halfway down . . ." She checks her watch.

    "Right, it's ten to three, and we're due at three. Chop-chop. Don't dawdle." Off Mum walks.
    I follow, not stepping on any of the cracks. Sometimes I have to guess where the cracks are because the pavement's mushy with fallen leaves. At one point I had to step out of the way of a man with huge fists jogging by in a black and orange tracksuit. Wolverhampton Wanderers play in black and orange. Shining berries hang from a mountain ash. I'd like to count them, but the clip-­clop-­clip-­clop of Mum's heels pulls me on. She bought the shoes at John Lewis's sale with the last of the money the Royal College of Music paid her, even though British Telecom sent a final reminder to pay the telephone bill. She's wearing her dark blue concert outfit and her hair up with the silver fox-­head hairpin. Her dad brought it back from Hong Kong after World War Two. When Mum's teaching a student and I have to make myself scarce, I sometimes go to Mum's dressing table and get the fox out. He's got jade eyes and on some days he smiles, on others he doesn't. I don't feel well knitted today, but the Valium should kick in soon. Valium's great. I took two pills. I'll have to miss a few next week so Mum won't notice her supply's going down. My tweed jacket's scratchy. Mum got it from Oxfam specially for today, and the bow ­tie's from Oxfam, too. Mum volunteers there on Mondays so she can get the best of the stuff people bring in on Saturdays. If Gaz Ingram or anyone in his gang sees me in this bow tie, I'll find a poo in my locker, guaranteed. Mum says I have to learn how to Blend In more, but there aren't any classes for Blending In, not even on the town library notice board. There's a Dungeons & Dragons club advertised there, and I always want to go, but Mum says I can't because Dungeons & Dragons is playing with dark forces. Through one front window I see horse racing. That's Grandstand on BBC1. The next three windows have net...

About the Author-
  • David Mitchell is the award-winning and bestselling author of The Bone Clocks, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, Black Swan Green, Cloud Atlas, Number9Dream, and Ghostwritten. Five of his six novels have been nominated for the Man Booker Prize and in 2007 Time magazine named him one of the 100 most influential people in the world. With KA Yoshida, Mitchell translated from the Japanese the internationally bestselling memoir The Reason I Jump. He lives in Ireland with his wife and two children.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    July 13, 2015
    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.

  • Kirkus

    Starred review from September 1, 2015
    At the end of life, does a writer's every word flash before his or her eyes? One might be forgiven for wondering just that on reaching the last page of Mitchell's (Cloud Atlas, 2004, etc.) delicious ghost story-which is more than just a ghost story, it being Mitchell's world in which readers are merely living, and more than delicious, too. When we meet sensitive, confused 13-year-old Nathan, a target painted on him for every schoolyard bully and hauled from place to place by a Valium-popping, near-berserk, newly divorced mum, he's fretting about having to dress up for a fancy do: "If Gaz Ingram or anyone in his gang sees me in this bow-tie," he mopes, "I'll find a poo in my locker, guaranteed." Perhaps better a poo than what awaits Nathan at Slade House, where possibly malevolent, certainly scary forces await in the form of a brother and sister who, as said brother assures us, "are a different species....We pass ourselves off as normal, or anything we want to be." Ghosts or monsters or possibly aliens or even vampires, Jonah and Norah Grayer and their eldritch doings are not the most interesting part of this book. The more compelling aspect, for Mitchell fans, is to watch him shape-shift and narrator-shift across the body of his work, beginning with circumstances reminiscent of Black Swan Green and ending with bursts of language befitting Cloud Atlas ("This system o' the Grayers, it won't run off the mains. It runs off o' psychovoltage. The psychovoltage of Engifteds"). There are even a few characters who drift in from other books, including Marinus from The Bone Clocks, who turns out to be a nervous Nellie in the face of the banjax suckers.... Though there's something of an inside joke happening on every page, Mitchell serves up a story that wouldn't be out of place alongside The Turn of the Screw. Ingenious, scary, and downright weird.

    COPYRIGHT(2015) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Booklist

    September 15, 2015
    In this slim and compelling novel, literary-fiction stalwart Mitchell offers his most accessible book yeta haunted-house story in the vein of such classics as The Turn of the Screw and The Haunting of Hill House. Written as five distinct chapters, each set on the last Saturday in October, spaced nine years apart, the novel follows the nefarious exploits of the Grayer twins, who inhabit the eponymous home, hidden in a narrow alley behind a pub. Each chapter is told through the point of view of the poor soul who has been unknowingly summoned to the home as a sacrifice to the twins. Readers will appreciate how, over the 36-year span, characters and story threads overlap to craft a unified psychological tale. Mitchell gives readers the same genre-blending, intricate plotting, and thought-provoking story lines as he does in his more ambitious works (The Bone Clocks, 2014), but here his scope is smaller and his focus limited mainly to producing the intensely unsettling tone. Suggest to fans of Audrey Niffenegger, Karen Russell, and Steven Millhauser, and expect it to be read as a Halloween staple for years to come.HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Expect this superb haunted-house tale to draw less critical acclaim, but perhaps a broader cross section of readers, than Mitchell's early, more demanding novels.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2015, American Library Association.)

  • Library Journal

    September 1, 2015

    It would have been better if Nathan Bishop and his mother, Rita, had never found the house off Slade Alley, where Rita had been invited to perform piano for some distinguished guests, including Yehudi Menuhin. They might have missed it altogether had it not been for a helpful passerby directing them to the small iron door through which they found the impressive home of Lady Grayer. After that October in 1979, mother and son were never seen again. Following a lead to their disappearance nine years later, Det. Gordon Edmonds entered through the same improbable door in the wall, met and interviewed the attractive owner, and was also never seen again. Since that time, every nine years on the last Saturday in October, another disappearance occurs. Behind these mysteries are Jonah and Norah Grayer, telepathic twins who seek to achieve immortality through the souls of the recently disappeared. VERDICT In Mitchell's (The Bone Clocks) assured hands, this unsettling supernatural tale is deliciously inventive and hard to put down. [See Prepub Alert, 4/16/15.]--Barbara Love, formerly with Kingston Frontenac P.L., Ont.

    Copyright 2015 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Library Journal

    May 1, 2015

    Fans of Mitchell's The Bone Clocks and Cloud Atlas will recognize the interlocking narrative structure and literary-fantastical bent of this new work, featuring a house set behind a black metal door lacking keyhole or knob and found at the end of a nondescript alley. People who walk through that door--including the five characters here, their narratives separated by intervals of nine years from 1979 to 2015--are never seen again. Pitched as his most accessible book yet, but, really, who doesn't want to just drink up all of Mitchell's writing?

    Copyright 2015 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • San Francisco Chronicle "Devilishly fun."--The Washington Post "Entertainingly eerie . . . Slade House boils down to [David] Mitchell's take on the classic ghost story, complete with his version of a haunted house. . . . The last thing we expected from Mitchell is simplicity, but here it is, burnished to a hellish bronze."--Chicago Tribune "A ripping yarn . . . Like Shirley Jackson's Hill House or the Overlook Hotel from Stephen King's The Shining, [Slade House] is a thin sliver of hell designed to entrap the unwary. . . . As the Mitchellverse grows ever more expansive and connected, this short but powerful novel hints at still more marvels to come."
  • The Guardian (U.K.) "Like Stephen King in a fever . . . manically ingenious."
  • San Antonio Express-News "Diabolically entertaining . . . dark, thrilling, and fun . . . One needn't have read any of Mitchell's past books to enjoy Slade House. Those who do crack it open will find inside a thoroughly entertaining ride full of mind games, unexpected twists, and even a few laughs."--The Daily Beast "A smart, spooky thrill ride . . . If you haven't yet read Mitchell, choosing this novel just might make a believer of you."--Milwaukee Journal Sentinel "Mitchell is one of the best writers going these days, and Slade House will haunt you for days--and nights."
  • Gillian Flynn, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Gone Girl and The Grownup "Plants died, milk curdled, and my children went slightly feral as I succumbed to the creepy magic of David Mitchell's Slade House. It's a wildly inventive, chilling, and--for all its otherworldliness--wonderfully human haunted house story. I plan to return to its clutches quite often."
  • Anthony Doerr, author of All the Light We Cannot See, winner of the Pulitzer Prize "I gulped down this novel in a single evening. Intricately connected to David Mitchell's previous books, this compact fantasy burns with classic Mitchellian energy. Painstakingly imagined and crackling with narrative velocity, it's a Dracula for the new millennium, a Hansel and Gretel for grownups, a reminder of how much fun fiction can be."
  • Dean Koontz, #1 New York Times bestselling author "David Mitchell doesn't break rules so much as prove them inhibitors to lively, intelligent fiction. Slade House is a fractal offshoot of his remarkable The Bone Clocks, an eerie haunted-house tale that takes as much from quantum mechanics as from traditional supernatural lore, a spellbinding chiller about an unnatural greed for life and the arrogance of power."
  • Adam Johnson, author of Fortune Smiles and The Orphan Master's Son, winner of the Pulitzer Prize "What can't David Mitchell do? Slade House is a page-burning, read-in-one-sitting, at times terrifying novel that does for the haunted-house story what Henry James did for the ghost story in The Turn of the Screw. It has all the intelligence and linguistic dazzle one expects from a David Mitchell novel, but it will also creep the pants off you. Just as Slade House won't let go of its unsuspecting guests, you won't be able to put this book down. Welcome to Slade House: Step inside."
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