miércoles, 23 de diciembre de 2015

Slade House, by David Mitchell

(Disclaimer: English is my second language, so I want to apologize in advance for there may be mistakes in the text below. If you find any, please let me know so that I can correct it. I'd really appreciate it. Thanks.)

Review Soundtrack: I suggest reading this review while listening to Novocaine for the Soul, by The Eels (Spotify, YouTube). 

I don't usually read horror, but the synopsis of Slade House (a haunted house that only appears at certain, specific dates) combined with the fact that the author was David Mitchell immediately interested me. And, in fact, I found this short novel an even more satisfying read than the longer and more complex (but also slightly disappointing) Cloud Atlas.

As expected from almost any work by Mitchell, the form of Slade House is almost as important as its content. In this case, the novel consists of five different short stories or novellas, each set nine years in the future from the previous one, each told in first person by a different narrator, and all of them linked by means of recurring characters and the presence of the mysterious house of the title. 

However, on this occasion, the structure is not so intricate as in other books by Mitchell. In fact, the plot is quite straightforward in all five novellas, making them a bit predictable after you've read a couple of them, but also transforming the experience into a kind of game in which the reader has to work up which are the elements in common between the new chapter and the preceding ones. There are also some connections to The Bone Clocks, for instance, but Slade House can be perfectly enjoyed on its own even if you've not read that other novel (as it is my case).

The strongest virtue of Slade House is, thus, how Mitchell manages to retell several times what is basically the same story, making it different every time. And this is accomplished, mainly, because the voices of the first person narrators are distinct and memorable in each and every novella. I particularly like the protagonists of the first and third ones, but all of them are extremely well-developed and completely three-dimensional. 

The book also has some minor flaws. As I mentioned above, after reading the first couple of chapters, it is fairly easy to guess some of the main twists of the plot. Also, there are some lengthy explanations in the last few stories that stroke me as unnecessary because even a not very attentive reader as myself would have understood the basic workings of the House by that point in the novel.

Anyway, I very much enjoyed reading Slade House and, what is even more important, the novel made me want to also read The Bone Clocks as soon as possible. For all these reasons, I highly recommend Slade House if you're looking for a good, solid haunted house story with charismatic and fully-fleshed characters. I'm sure you won't regret visiting Slade House.    

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