On January the 31st (or 31th, as many of my students would have it), the Hyogo Book Club met to discuss David Mitchell’s Slade House. It was published on October 27th, 2015, mere days after the 12th book club meeting (for which we read Natsuo Kirino’s Real World) and of some significance to the novella’s plot.

Set in the same universe as Mitchell’s best-selling novel The Bone Clocks (though perhaps all of his books are in the same universe), the aforementioned novella is an eerie tale of twins prepared to do anything to stay together, including the abduction of those who wander onto their residence. I hadn’t read The Bone Clocks until after finishing Slade House, and I think I’d recommend the same to those who’ve read neither. Slade House is bite-sized (perfect for a lazy afternoon at school for the ambitious and voracious reader) and I found the last chapter leaving me wanting more information on one of the characters introduced. The Bone Clocks happily filled that yearning and was an altogether heartier and more satisfying morsel than its dainty companion.

Fortunately for all of us (especially those of us leaving this summer), Book Club is not like Hotel California or Slade House: we can come and go as we please. Last-minute cancellers beware: should a future meeting have too many people and we find ourselves in an unaccommodating restaurant, you’re first on the chopping block. Those who met at Tits Park were privy to the skull-and-crossbones drawings added to the members list. Following this merry jig, we sauntered over to Cafe Ovest.

Once there, we settled into our seats before wrecking the place with a half-considered notion of putting our tables together. This resulted in a T table, which was pretty overwhelming when everyone was talking at once. Also overwhelming was the presence of 15 foreigners who, at best, had a chaotic ordering system (or lack thereof). Despite this, the waiters managed awkward neutral expressions and brought out everything eventually (even the drinks!). The food itself was pretty middling, with oily pasta and what I’m told was a moist strawberry cake. Other than desserts, though, there are few vegetarian or vegan options for those of you who swing that way.

Those of the club who finished Slade House had generally favorable things to say about it, and it received an average of 3.9 stars out of 5. The tone is creepy and draws you into itself, while the characters are interesting, though at least one was incredibly dislikable. The two criticisms most of us had were the overarching predictability of the plot and the clumsy world building in the fourth chapter. Other than that, it is enjoyable (and won’t take away too much of your time).

On April 17th, we’ll be meeting at an undisclosed location to discuss Burial Rites by Hannah Kent. Get in on this murder tale here.

“Set against Iceland’s stark landscape, Hannah Kent brings to vivid life the story of Agnes, who, charged with the brutal murder of her former master, is sent to an isolated farm to await execution.

Horrified at the prospect of housing a convicted murderer, the family at first avoids Agnes. Only Tóti, a priest Agnes has mysteriously chosen to be her spiritual guardian, seeks to understand her. But as Agnes’s death looms, the farmer’s wife and their daughters learn there is another side to the sensational story they’ve heard.

Riveting and rich with lyricism, BURIAL RITES evokes a dramatic existence in a distant time and place, and asks the question: How can one woman hope to endure when her life depends upon the stories told by others?”
(from Amazon)

Brittany Teodorski