“The novelist who’s been showing us the future of fiction” (The Washington Post), David Mitchell delivers a kaleidoscopic, serpentine masterpiece that navigates between characters, eras, and realms of possibility to weave its astonishing spell.
An eloquent conjurer of intricate, interconnected tales, a genre-bending daredevil, and a master prose stylist—David Mitchell has outdone himself. The Bone Clocks is a hypnotic Rubik’s cube of a novel that begs to be taken apart and put back together long after the final piece is fit into place.
Following a scalding row with her mother, fifteen year-old Holly Sykes slams the door on her old life. But Holly is no typical teenage runaway: a sensitive child once contacted by voices she knew only as “the radio people,” Holly is a lightning rod for psychic phenomena. Now, as she wanders deeper into the English countryside, visions and coincidences reorder her reality until they assume the aura of a nightmare brought to life.
For Holly has caught the attention of a cabal of dangerous mystics—and their enemies. But her lost weekend is merely the prelude to a shocking disappearance that leaves her family irrevocably scarred. This unsolved mystery will echo through every decade of Holly’s life, affecting all the people Holly loves—even the ones who are not yet born.
A Cambridge scholarship boy grooming himself for wealth and influence; a conflicted father who feels alive only while reporting from Occupied Iraq; a middle-aged writer mourning his exile from the bestseller list: all have a part to play in this surreal, invisible war on the margins of our world. From the medieval Swiss Alps to the nineteenth century Australian bush, from a hotel in Shanghai to a Manhattan townhouse in the near future, their stories come together in moments of everyday grace and extraordinary wonder.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Like Cloud Atlas, The Bone Clocks is a vividly imagined and head-spinning tale. Tempestuous teenager Holly Sykes has a history of hearing voices and seeing spectres. Spurned by her boyfriend and fuelled by spite, Holly embarks on a journey into the Kentish countryside, where she unwittingly becomes a pawn in a violent battle between magical armies. Hurtling forward from its starting point in 1984 to 2043 (where Holly is a grandmother cherishing a simple life in Ireland), Mitchell’s audacious novel is like nothing you’ve ever read before. Blending small human dramas, current events, big ideas and supernatural mystique, The Bone Clocks unveils colourful characters and unexpected twists at every turn.
Is The Bone Clocks the most ambitious novel ever written, or just the most Mitchell-esque? We begin in the punk years with a teenage Talking Heads obsessed runaway from Gravesend, England, named Holly Sykes. She becomes a pawn in a spiritual war between the mysterious "Radio People" and the benevolent Horologists, led by the body-shifting immortal Marinus. Many more characters and places soon find themselves worked into Marinus's "Script" across the book's six sections: there's Hugo Lamb, a cunning, amoral Cambridge student spending Christmas 1991 in Switzerland, where he encounters an older Holly tending bar; then it's the height of the Bush/Blair years, and our narrator is Holly's husband, Edmund Brubeck, a war reporter dispatched to Baghdad. Another flash-forward lands us in the present day, where the middling novelist Crispin Hershey weathers a succession of literary feuds, becomes confidante of a New Agey Holly and her daughter, then has his own unsettling encounter with the Radio People. In the penultimate section, Marinus reveals the nature of the Script the secret conflict lurking just beneath mortal affairs and how Holly may be the key to a resolution whose repercussions won't be known until 2043, when the aged Holly rides out a curiously sedate end-time in rural Ireland. From gritty realism to far-out fantasy, each section has its own charm and surprises. With its wayward thoughts, chance meetings, and attention to detail, Mitchell's (The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet) novel is a thing of beauty.
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Mitchell's best work yet
The Bone Clocks is an extraordinary tale that ticks all the boxes; love, mystery, fantasy, and action. But more than that, it's an incredible demonstration of the farsightedness of Mitchell's brilliant mind, one that hopes to open up the uncomfortable can of worms: climate change. And it does, beautifully, ominously, and insightfully. Bravo Mr. Mitchell: you'll have yourself a lifelong plan.
One of the best and most original books I have ever read.