Slade House (2015): David Mitchell

★★★

If you’re looking for Slade House, you have to keep your eyes open. The way in is through a little black metal door, set into the wall of narrow Slade Alley, and it can be hard to find. To be precise, it only reveals itself once every nine years on the last Saturday in October. But don’t worry too much about that. If you’re looking for it, chances are you’ve been called. The door will open at your touch and reveal a wonderful garden leading up to an old stone house. You might, for a moment, wonder how these grounds fit into the modern estates you walked past on the way, but this won’t matter for long. You’ll be drawn in, captivated and entranced by the house and its inhabitants. And then, before long (or perhaps it will seem like a long time), you’ll suddenly discover that there’s no way out. Paradise has become prison. And something is coming to get you…

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Cloud Atlas: David Mitchell

★★★★ ½

I’m delighted to be able to kick off the New Year with a post on a real stunner of a book, which I expect will already be familiar to most of you. There are a few literary adaptations coming out in the cinema over the next couple of months and so in principle this gives me an opportunity to revisit the books that I have read and to track down those I haven’t. Cloud Atlas is one of those I hadn’t read before: it came out when I was at university, but I was never particularly attracted to it because all the reviews I read simply lost themselves in hyberbole about its conceptual brilliance and neglected to give me any real sense of the story. Eight years later, having found a copy for £1.50 in a charity shop, I’ve come to realise that actually the critics were right. The concept is brilliant.

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