"Slade House" by David Mitchell

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It appears this soul-sucking story had more legs and arms and disposable bodies than David Mitchell could get rid of in The Bone Clocks. This piece comes to us as the mantissa to Mitchell’s acclaimed novel published earlier this year. It’s come out just in time for Halloween, and it’s yet another highly professional set of pyrotechnics.

The author revisits Dr Marinus from Bone Clocks, and this time she carries out her vigilante justice against the Grayer twins, who have lived for 120 years or so … These are spooky tales with spooky effects, always carried off with assurance to spare, but I begin to wonder if Mr. Mitchell is approaching something a little deeper, about our fear of death and longing for immortality. But these companion-pieces seem too dependent on fun special effects and thrilling plot twists to try to pin anything more on them. He has always sailed very close to a current of fairness and moral behavior - see Cloud Atlas and The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet - and this pint-and-half pint of stories has the same slant.

I liked Slade House. Its closeups of characters before they’re dispatched have great verisimilitude to lives lived and emotions suffered, and the spooky effects are pulled off well. This book does feature a badass hero giving the normal comeuppance to a couple of dirtbags; the whole amounts to an exercise in waiting for this payoff. I expect Mr. Mitchell’s next effort will be on new topics, with new characters (well, maybe not all new), and different metaphysics.

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