The Bone Clocks is one of my favorite books I read this year so I was very happy to learn David Mitchell was releasing a side story to it this October. Slade House takes place in the same universe as The Bone Clocks and returning readers will probably very quickly grasp what is going on before those that read it with no prior knowledge.
There is a grimy passage off the beaten path in London called Slade Alley. Every 9 years a small iron door appears in the alley. Beyond the door is a garden and at the top of the garden is Slade House. If you enter that house you will eventually learn that there is no garden, and there is no house, not really. Slade House is a trap, an artificial construct built to catch selected prey for the continued sustenance of its timeless inhabitants.
Beginning in 1978, each chapter is written in the first person and follows a character as they find and enter Slade House. The book is presented so that each chapter is a stand-alone short story that slowly reveals answers to the central mystery. The Bone Clocks was similar in approach, if not structure. It was absolutely oblique offering little explanation for the odd terms it was using and events transpiring for the first ¾ of the book until a gigantic exposition dump is used to catch up the characters and the readers and connect all of the pieces. Where The Bone Clocks focused on a group of humans that were caught in the middle of a war between immortals, Slade House gives us a view of that war from the outside looking in and not understanding what we are seeing.
Your familiarity with The Bone Clocks will impact how much enjoyment you get from Slade House. I enjoyed Slade House but I didn’t love it. It was too repetitive and my knowledge of the other book meant I was largely ahead of the curve as the hows and whys were revealed. There were not many surprises for me here, and once the last chapter started I had a good idea how it was going to end. There is a bit more of the history of the Anchorites revealed but other than that not much new information.
Still, it’s an enjoyable read and Mitchell is as good as ever. I do wish there had been more surprises for returning readers though.