Award-winning British novelist David Mitchell has traditionally been acclaimed for his historically based, humorous masterworks that intertwine multiple stories into one.
For example, his best-known piece is “Cloud Atlas,” whose structure is a ship’s log inside of a composer’s diary inside of a mystery novel inside of a comedy movie inside of an oral tradition inside of a recorded confession.
Sounds pretty convoluted, right? Well, with his latest novel, “Slade House,” released on Oct. 27, Mitchell has changed his modus operandi to include a much shorter, horror-themed novella.
Looking at it in isolation from his other works, “Slade House” is a very entertaining and accessible book. It is a series of vignettes of people who disappear into a mysterious haunted house on “Slade Alley.”
As its stories don’t intertwine too much, this new gem doesn’t hurt the reader’s head as much as Mitchell’s previous novels tend to. And younger readers will be more attached to the events of this portable, yellow-bound book, which is grounded in the supernatural rather than in AP World History—one of Mitchell’s previous novels takes place completely in a Dutch trading port in 18th-century Japan.
Looking at this new book in light of his whole career, it definitely represents a departure in style for Mitchell, as it is his second work to include elements of the paranormal, exemplifying his diversity as a writer. The witty dialogue and engaging prose that have become his staples are still present but in a completely novel fashion.
Above all, “Slade House” is a physically pleasing object to hold, with thick perforated pages and a spongy cardboard cover that has a small window to reveal a map of the haunted house in which the spooks transpire.
Even if you can’t get yourself a copy soon enough to get the Halloween experience that it was meant to convey, “Slade House” is certainly a light and entertaining read, especially as a diving board from which to spring into the literary waters of Mitchell’s more serious, involved works.