Slade House by David Mitchell

A review by Nalini Haynes

Slade House is a spider’s web inhabited by two supernatural creatures who must feed every 9 years on the last Saturday of October. Halloween story, anyone?

Nathan’s mother dresses him up to take him to a recital at Lady Gray’s house. They’re struggling after Nathan’s father left them to move to Rhodesia and remarry. Nathan’s mother instructs him to pretend to affluence, a contradiction of explicit training he’s receiving, presumably because he is on the autistic spectrum (although he seems to understand metaphors).

A beautiful web, a luscious garden, beckons them in to the trap. Nathan’s mom goes indoors to meet her hero while he plays with another boy in the garden.

Cruel supernaturals terrify him before they kill him to enhance his flavour.

Nine years later, another victim falls prey to their trap.

Five stories between each of which 9 years pass, bringing us to the last Saturday of October in 2015, and a story of a new victim, with a twist. The perpetrators are developed as characters via the protagonists’ adventures.

I usually say I’m not a fan of horror. I draw a distinction between dark fantasy and horror, a line that, perhaps, is misplaced because I loved Slade House; it’s riveting, a story that beckoned me to return, claiming my attention, while I was displaced (from reading) by necessary chores.

After wending my way through this short novel, I was both a bit surprised and entirely satisfied by the end.

From the award-winning creator of Cloud Atlas comes a horror story to satiate Halloween celebrants, perfect for All Hallows Read (although not for young children). If you enjoy Doctor Who or Angel (Joss Whedon)–level horror, Slade House is for you. Highly recommended.

  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
  • ISBN: 9781473617377
  • Publication date: 27 Oct 2015
  • Page count: 240
  • Imprint: Sceptre (Hachette)

Slade House