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***Please be aware this is a book club discussion, so there is the possibility that my review or the comments left by others will contain spoilers***
Slade House is set between 1979 and 2015. There are five sections of the book and each section is set in a different time period. The location of each section always remains the same. As you may have already guessed, it is always set at the spooky Slade House. The book details the mysterious circumstances that a variety of characters are drawn towards Slade House.
I should probably be honest with you and provide a disclaimer that, I am a huge David Mitchell fan. From reading Cloud Atlas to number9dream to the Bone Clocks. I’ve adored everything of his that I’ve read. Slade House is no exception.
Slade House some how manages to be hilarious, thrilling, haunting, historical and clever all at the same time. The first section (The Right Sort) surrounding young Nathan and his mum is particularly witty and had me laughing out loud. A fine example of Mitchell’s humour in this book would be the line: “he was handsome in a sort of gay model Hitler Youth way”. I’m going to remember that line, so that I can refer to someone as that one day (I might be mindful of my audience though).
This book mainly leaves me reeling. Reeling that someone can be so talented and so clever and have such a vivid imagination to write such a book. As I’ve mentioned before, I generally don’t like fantasy books, but for me Mitchell is the right side of fantasy for me. It’s the backbone of this story, but it doesn’t dominate so much that it is the whole entire book.
Each section has it’s merits, but I particularly enjoyed the first section and the You Dark Horse You section with journalist Sally Timms. That section left me astonished and had me rereading it as soon as I’d finished it.
Most of the time you liked the main character in most of the sections and had a lot of sympathy for them (even before they learn their fate). Detective Gordon Edmonds from the The Shining Armour section, is probably the least likeable character, but you still somehow feel sorry for him. Inevitably, it’s the characters that continue through each section, siblings Norah and Jonah Grayer, that you despise the most and root for their demise throughout the book.
In conclusion, if you’re a fan of David Mitchell (and in particular The Bone Clocks), you will not be disappointed. It is a short read, that will keep you gripped and interested until it’s harrowing conclusion. Think Stranger Things mixed with a little bit of Black Mirror.
Questions to Consider
1. Slade House is broken up into five parts and is narrated by five different characters, all in the first person. Which of their voices were you most drawn to and why?
2. Despite their differences, the narrators are all “engifted” and therefore targets of the Grayer twins. What do you think “engifted” means? What might qualify someone as “engifted”?
3. Did you notice any recurring patterns in the storytelling across all five parts?
4. With each new “guest” you learn more and more about Slade House and the Grayer twins. What about their abilities and story was most unsettling to you?
5. On page 146, Freya Timms thinks “Grief is an amputation, but hope is incurable hemophilia: you bleed and bleed and bleed.” Do you agree? In what way is this true for characters in the novel?
6. On page 175, Fred Pink counters Freya’s argument for why immortality wouldn’t be kept a secret. What does Fred’s explanation say about human nature? Do you agree?
7. Throughout his life, many people dismiss Fred and his beliefs and research. What might his experiences say about the way society treats those who are labeled as mentally ill?
8. Norah and Jonah’s history is extraordinary, but also marked by loss. Did you ever find them sympathetic? When and why?
9. You don’t learn much about what Norah and Jonah do in–between each nine–year cycle, but we do know that they have a great degree of freedom and many resources at their disposal. Would you be tempted by their nomadic but gifted existence?
10. Were you surprised by Norah’s actions at the end of the novel?
11. What’s the most frightening book you’ve ever read, and what is the most spine–chilling movie you’ve seen? Are there differences between literary fear and cinematic fear?
April’s book is Animal by Sara Pascoe. I’ll be starting the conversation for this on Tuesday 1st May.
A list of all the books we’ll be reading for the first half of 2018 can be found here
I’ve finally sorted out my Goodreads page, so as a few people have asked, you can view it here