Book Review: The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell


The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

Sceptre (hardback) 2014

595 pages


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 spellbinding and memorable best. 


I FLING OPEN MY BEDROOM CURTAINS, and there’s the thirsty sky and the wide river full of ships and boats and stuff, but I’m already thinking of Vinny’s chocolaty eyes, shampoo down Vinny’s back, beads of sweat on Vinny’s shoulders, and Vinny’s sly laugh, and by now my heart’s going mental and, God, I wish I was waking up at Vinny’s place in Peacock Street and not in my own stupid bedroom. Last night, the words just said themselves, ‘Christ, I really love you, Vin’ and Vinny puffed of a cloud of smoke and did this Prince Charles voice, ‘One must say, one’s frightfully partial to spending time with you too, Holly Sykes’ and I nearly weed myself laughing, though I was a bit narked he didn’t say, ‘I love you’ back if I’m honest. Still, boyfriends act goofy to hide stuff, any magazine will tell you. Wish I could phone him right now. Wish they’d invent phones you can speak to anyone anywhere anytime on. He’ll be riding his Norton to work in Rochester right now, in his leather jacket with LED ZEP spelled out in silver studs. Come September, when I turn sixteen, he’ll take me out in his Norton.


I loved The Bone Clocks, absolutely loved it. Mitchell’s novel, Cloud Atlas blew me away when I read it a few months ago. The Bone Clocks blows Cloud Atlas out of the water. A little bit anyway. I loved every page of The Bone Clocks. I loved the characters and the blend of reality and myth. The Bone Clocks uses a similar structure to Cloud Atlas, six interconnected stories. The connections were a lot clearer than Cloud Atlas. I thought The Bone Clocks was brilliant, just brilliant. I enjoyed everything about it. I liked how The Bone Clocks was part coming of age story part fantasy part god knows what. The Bone Clocks is one of my reads of the year.

The Bone Clocks is the second David Mitchell novel I’ve read. I may need to read his other books as well. If they’re even half as good I’m in for a treat. 




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