LONGLISTED FOR THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE 2014
One drowsy summer's day in 1984, teenage runaway Holly Sykes encounters a strange woman who offers a small kindness in exchange for 'asylum'. Decades will pass before Holly understands exactly what sort of asylum the woman was seeking . . .
The Bone Clocks follows the twists and turns of Holly's life from a scarred adolescence in Gravesend to old age on Ireland's Atlantic coast as Europe's oil supply dries up - a life not so far out of the ordinary, yet punctuated by flashes of precognition, visits from people who emerge from thin air and brief lapses in the laws of reality. For Holly Sykes - daughter, sister, mother, guardian - is also an unwitting player in a murderous feud played out in the shadows and margins of our world, and may prove to be its decisive weapon.
Metaphysical thriller, meditation on mortality and chronicle of our self-devouring times, this kaleidoscopic novel crackles with the invention and wit that have made David Mitchell one of the most celebrated writers of his generation. Here is fiction at its most spellbinding and memorable best.
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 specters. Spurned by her boyfriend and fueled 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.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Great plot, great characters, a bit too much made up language
This is a story of good against evil. It follows the life of Holly Sykes from childhood- where she first encounters the sinister 'anchorites'- to adult where she helps the well-intentioned 'horologists' to save the world from their evil intentions.
The plot is cleverly written and spans several decades of Holly's life from the 1970s to the 2040s, and centuries past as it becomes clear some of her companions and their enemies have lived for hundreds of years. The dialogue used attempts, and succeeds to some extent, to describe the language of the anchorites and horologists, and life in the future but the sheer amount of made up language makes some reading heavy going.
I found this book engrossing, I read it first many years ago, and re-reading it was like a reunion with an old friend. To allude to a minor theme in the book, I found incidents and moments within which were like treasured memories. It is a fantastical, futuristic, apocalyptic but ultimately optimistic detective story. I really enjoyed it, again. Thank you David Mitchell, I am looking forward to doing the same with Ghostwritten.
A joy to read from beginning to end. Expertly written. Highly recommended