Friday, 17 October 2014

The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

Reviewer: Gillian Hamer, author of The Charter, Closure, Complicit & Crimson Shore (

What we thought: To begin with. Relax. There will be no spoilers in this review. The less you know about this book before you open page one, the better, in my opinion. So, ignore 99% of the media coverage.

I have wanted to get into David Mitchell for some time and with this novel I have finally cracked it. I finally get him, finally love his writing. And I can’t wait to go back and re-read Thousand Autumns, and take on Cloud Atlas and Ghostwritten.

No spoilers, but I am going to answer one question. What is a Bone Clock? The answer isn't found written anywhere in this novel, but by default you just know. A bone clock is simply a human being as they mature and age. By simply looking at a person, you can tell the stage of their life. From birth, via adult strength, through to frailness. We are all bone clocks.

Or at least them are the ‘normal rules’. And as Mitchell fans will know, in Mitchell novels normal rules don’t apply.

In The Bone Clocks we meet a collection of random (seemingly) characters starting and ending with the person I would class as the main protagonist, Holly Sykes. From a 14 year-old tear-away in the 1980s to a wise grandmother in the 2040s, we see her complex life journey through her eyes. There are some great characters here – the devious Hugo Lamb and curmudgeonly author, Crispin Hershey among my favourites – but Mitchell’s real skill in my opinion is in his attention to language and his story-telling skills. Mitchell weaves you into his world like a spider cocooning a fly in its web, and by the time you realise you’re hooked it’s far too late to walk away.

This book is a stayer – one that will linger in your memory for a long time after you close the final page. Without giving anything away, it is Mitchell’s predictions of our future that left me shaken and cold - and there are clearly many hidden messages and layers of intent in the author’s work.

I’ve no doubts this will attract many new fans to Mitchell’s fold, like myself, and equally I can’t believe any dedicated Mitchell fans will be disappointed by his latest work. If you have often thought of giving Mitchell’s work a try, I would recommend this is the novel to do it.

If I had to recommend one ‘must read’ book so far this year, then it would be The Bone Clocks.

You’ll enjoy this if you like : Stephen King, Margaret Atwood, Michael Connolly.

Avoid if you don’t like : Growing old and questioning the basic fundamentals of life.

Ideal accompaniments: Comfort food. For me - a strong G&T and the most chocolatey cake I can find.

Genre: Literary Fiction.

Available from Amazon

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