Back in 2014 David Mitchell used Twitter to tell a short story, and in 280 tweets over the course of a week he showed the right way for an author to engage with social media. The story that emerged from this process was called The Right Sort and it’s the first chapter of Mitchell’s seventh novel, Slade House, published last year.
Slade House is Mitchell’s take on the classic haunted house story. Every nine years a tiny door appears on Slade Alley, behind which is a huge house surrounded by a beautiful garden. The house is only accessible for a day, and when it vanishes it takes someone with it, leading to unexplained disappearances. The novel is told in five chapters by five different narrators, from 1979 to 2015, and through their eyes we come to understand that Slade House is an illusion, set up as bait to lure in victims for the house’s owners.
In true Mitchell style, characters and references from his other novels appear throughout, and the book is widely seen to be a companion piece to 2014’s The Bone Clocks, featuring the Anchorites and Horologists from that fantasy world.
A very dear friend of mine bought me the most gorgeous hardback US first edition and I raced through the 238 pages in a couple of hours. It’s a creepy little book which reminded me at times of The Turn of the Screw and Les Enfants Terribles, but with a lot more humour.