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 barrelling 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.
First my dilemma – how to classify this intriguing little book? Horror is maybe too strong a word for this – or maybe I am just desensitised to the horror here by my other readings, paranormal – yes an element of ghostly other world here definitely, science fiction – a little maybe – there is the extra “dimension” in the narrative but not set in the future, fantasy – again a little of this here too….perhaps speculative fiction is the best fit? I like this definition by http://www.greententacles.com/articles/5/26/ :“Speculative fiction is a term, attributed to Robert Heinlein in 1941, that has come to be used to collectively describe works in the genres of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror…Speculative fiction is also more than the collective title for works of horror, science fiction, and fantasy. The term also embraces works that don’t fit neatly into the separate genres. Tarzan. Television’s Early Edition. Stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Tales that span the science fiction, fantasy, and horror genres. Stranger in a Strange Land. The Twilight Zone. Stories by Edgar Allen Poe. Tales that have been labelled simply as ‘weird’ or ‘adventure’ or ‘amazing’ because there was no proper place to put them. Stories on the fringe.
When you’ve come across a story or movie or game that both is and isn’t science fiction, fantasy, and/or horror, then you’ve discovered speculative fiction.” [Emphasis added by author – me 🙂 )
Slade House is a work of intriguing speculative fiction – a narrative that evokes fear, tribulation and concern. As you read you just know something is not right, that the main characters should not enter that building, should leave quickly, and shouldn’t be so trusting… that something bad is going to happen… and of course it does! David Mitchell manipulates his characters beautifully, exposes their weaknesses and egos and hopes and then… tramples on them. Intriguing and enjoyable reading with a couple of delicious twists but for me the ending was just not powerful enough, did not make me gasp or fret or deliver the punch I was expecting. Yet still enjoyable – a book I will recommend and has made me add David Mitchell’s previous book The Bone Clocks to my wish list.