David Mitchell’s Slade House is a ghost novella, at first glance. Every 9 years, the owner of Slade House appear to capture another victim to continue their reign.
Mitchell develops a sense of claustrophobia through his use of grammar and Alice in Wonderland sizing. He skews the characters’ perspectives through descriptions of doors and land, starting with Wonderland but perhaps ending up with Lovecraft’s thoughts on the idea of the world just being altered enough to be horrific.
Using the time breaks as chapter or sections, the sense of linear time is created but then distorted in between paragraphs. As one might expect from Mitchell, there is a slippage between genres and styles, mixing science fiction and horror neatly with realism and the ghost story.
Readers of Mitchell’s work know that there are often links to his other work and this book is no exception as he considers, in a very brief overview, uses of time in fiction. I am sure that there other links that I have not recognised yet but knowing these is not a barrier to enjoying the novella.
Given the normal time in between his books coming out, this is a little out of the ordinary. It fits into the ghost stories that appear during this period, though I do think that the revival aspect is premature as they have never really gone away. This is not one of his major works but it is a fun read all the same.