This is Mitchell departing – to some extent – from the cats-cradle style complexity of his earlier plots. Where his other novels are kind of stretched across time and space, those dimensions are condensed here into one truly spooky location: that of the elusive Slade House. And while this book doesn’t offer up the thrills and spills of a full on horror story, it really worms its way under the skin.
It probably helps to have read The Bone Clocks first, as that introduces some of the arcane concepts that Mitchell develops here. But what really makes this story so compelling is the author’s chameleon like gift for getting inside the heads of his characters – for exploiting and exposing their weaknesses and insecurities. And while Slade House doesn’t play out on the same global scale as novels like Cloud Atlas, it still presents a fascinating weave of characters and concepts, many of which feed into his other books.
There’s a steady heightening of atmosphere as time reveals the crimes committed in Slade House and the stakes are raised for its anima eating inhabitants. And some genuinely unnerving twists and turnarounds occur as Mitchell’s ghouls manipulate their victims’ sense of reality, and that of his readers. In all, a great return to form after the convoluted atemporal shenanigans of The Bone Clocks.