Slade House by David Mitchell
Born out of the short story David Mitchell published on Twitter in 2014 and inhabiting the same universe as his latest bestselling novel The Bone Clocks, this is the perfect book to curl up with on a dark and stormy night.
Turn down Slade Alley – narrow, dank and easy to miss, even when you’re looking for it. Find the small black iron door set into the right-hand wall. No handle, no keyhole, but at your touch it swings open. Enter the sunlit garden of an old house that doesn’t quite make sense; too grand for the shabby neighbourhood, too large for the space it occupies.
A stranger greets you by name and invites you inside. At first, you won’t want to leave. Later, you’ll find that you can’t.
This unnerving, taut and intricately woven tale by one of our most original and bewitching writers begins in 1979 and reaches its turbulent conclusion around Hallowe’en, 2015. Because every nine years, on the last Saturday of October, a ‘guest’ is summoned to Slade House. But why has that person been chosen, by whom and for what purpose? The answers lie waiting in the long attic, at the top of the stairs…
“Manically ingenious … Each fresh product of Mitchell’s soaring imagination functions as an echo chamber for both his previous ideas and his oeuvre to come.” Liz Jensen, Guardian
“Chilling and dazzling … but the real skill of the book is in its emotional impact. Mitchell makes you care about each of the narrators.” Scotland on Sunday
“Packed with heady ideas and pulsing with dark energy . . . both dazzlingly inventive and compulsively readable.” Financial Times
“An elegant fright-fest of the highest order . . . Mitchell masterfully, humorously, combines the classic components of a scary story – old house, dark alley, missing persons – with a realism, when describing the lives of the victims, that is pacy, funny and true.” Melissa Katsoulis, The Times
“A deliciously creepy story to be read for plot and for pleasure, with your heart racing, and your eyes involuntarily skipping forwards to find out what happens.” Sunday Times
“Genuinely good, genuinely scary.” Harry Ritchie, Daily Mail
“[Mitchell] seamlessly brings together his clashing parallel realities through wordplay so dazzling it seems to defy its own gravitational rules.” Metro
“Mitchell’s most pleasurable book to date, which also features some of his finest writing.” Literary Review
“Plants died, milk curdled, and my children went slightly feral as I succumbed to the creepy magic of David Mitchell’s Slade House. It’s a wildly inventive, chilling, and – for all its other-worldiness – wonderfully human haunted house story. I plan to return to its clutches quite often.” Gillian Flynn, author of Gone Girl
Dark Matter & the Dinosaurs: The Astounding Interconnectedness of the Universe by Lisa Randall – A horizon-expanding tour of the cosmos that blends what we know about the universe with new thinking, from a gifted scientist and writer.
The Noise of Time by Julian Barnes – Another compact masterpiece from Barnes, which contemplates Art, Power and Dmitri Shostakovich. His first novel since the Booker winning Sense of an Ending.
The Widow by Fiona Barton – Billed as this year’s The Girl on the Train – definitely a thriller to watch.
The Portable Veblen by Elizabeth McKenzie – An exuberant, one-of-a-kind novel about love and family, war and nature, new money and old values by a brilliant New Yorker contributor.
Mr Splitfoot by Samantha Hunt – A New York Times Editors’ Choice and January 2016 Indie Next Pick. A contemporary gothic from an author in the company of Kelly Link and Aimee Bender, Mr. Splitfoot tracks two women in two times as they march toward a mysterious reckoning.
My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout – An exquisite story of mothers and daughters from the Pulitzer prize-winning author of Olive Kitteridge.
Their Promised Land: My Grandparents in Love and War by Ian Buruma – Through his parents’ letters, historian Ian Buruma has created a spellbinding homage to the sustaining power of a family’s love and devotion through very dark days.
Literary Stocking Fillers
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There are some great choices for stocking fillers and Secret Santa gifts. A chilling new short story – The Grown-up – by Gillian Flynn of Gone Girl fame, for all the fans who are still waiting patiently for a new novel. Shaking Hands with Death is the moving lecture that Terry Pratchett gave at the BBC Richard Dimblebly Lecture, about the right to choose both a good life and a good death. Neil Gaiman’s beautiful short story How the Marquis got his Coat Back is now also available as a single volume, and Chimamande Ngozi Adichie’s TED Talk about feminism – We Should All Be Feminists – is hugely popular.