The Bone Clocks | David Mitchell

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.

What a journey!

My first attempt at a David Mitchell book has left me glowing, gloating & groaning.

Glowing – in the delight of having found a ‘new-to-me’ author – I now have a whole back list of books to look forward to. Glowing – from delight in finding such an absorbing, magical story that swept me across generations and times and worlds.

Gloating – that I was reading this year’s Booker winner (until the shortlist was announced & he was missing from it!)

Groaning – that now I’ve finished The Bone Clocks, I miss it terribly. I miss Holly. I miss being in Mitchell’s world. Groaning – about the Crispin chapter – what purpose? why? It didn’t seem to add anything new to the Script, except for a little romantic angle and a trip to Australia.

The Bone Clocks is about the purpose of life, relationships, good vs evil, freewill, doubt, time & timelessness, memory & the environment. All told with a hearty paranormal, science fiction twist.

The Bone Clocks also helped me to finally understand the purpose of twitter!
Sharing my favourite quotes with others reading the book at the same time added to my sense of journey & immersion in the story.

The Australian edition has an extra few pages of  “In conversation with David Mitchell” that talks about the Australian settings in the book. He describes Rottnest Island as

an extraordinary location…that deep, burnished, glassy blue of the Indian Ocean, so unlike the ginger-beer-coloured English Channel of my childhood; the brain-broiling, skin-frying sun, drier and more dangerous than in Japan; and when a quokka lolloped across the road, I nearly fell off my rented bike.

Mitchell also talks about meeting Australian award-winning writer, Kim Scott, who is a Noongar Elder and his time back-packing around Australia. He believes that timelessness comes naturally to the Australian environment,

The quality of light at dawn, and the alien (to my ears) birdsong and, how, in Europe, you have to go a long way and look selectively to find a view where nothing tells you what century you’re in. In many regions of Australia, by contrast…, you can easily find a view containing no clues whatsoever about any century.
I loved this book from start to finish – even the slightly flawed sections.
Holly was a character I cared for deeply. Her journey became my journey.But now that I’ve finished it…what next? What should my next book journey be? Perhaps I will leave my ‘what next’ in Mitchell’s very capable hands…because I’ve always loved a little bit of ambiguity!
For one voyage to begin, another voyage must come to an end, sort of.
  • Longlisted Man Booker Prize 2014
  • Winner World Fantasy Award 2015

11 thoughts on “The Bone Clocks | David Mitchell

  1. I finished the book this weekend and also loved it (it was my 4th Mitchell novel – only 2 left, eek!) The Crispin character did feel a bit questionable but I didn't mind him much, not sure if the goal was to show change in a human, at first I was certain he would never change his ways. I loved the message of the novel as well. My favourite will remain The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, though.


  2. I started de Zoetrope several yrs ago but couldn't get into it. Since then I've heard a few people say the beginning was a bit of a struggle, but the rest was so worth it. Which one do you think I should try next?


  3. Some of the reviews for this book have not been as glowing as mine. My interpretation is that this is one of Mitchell's more accessible books (ie not as difficult) as some if his others. Therefore, a good one for a Mitchell novice to start with.I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!


  4. I've been very tempted by this one as well and now even more so. I'm glad you enjoyed it so much. It's been a while since I've read a book I missed after finishing it. It's always so nice when it happens.


  5. Very true about de Zoet – I kept asking my boyfriend and whining \”When does it get good?\” but it was so worth it. If you liked The Bone Clocks I would suggest Cloud Atlas, it also has complicated structure and several story lines.


  6. Book hangovers are the best, because they mean you've just finished a great book, but also the worst, because you are faced with that very difficult question of \”what next.\” I hope you find something good to follow up with. I've yet to read anything by David Mitchell. I have actually paid little attention to The Bone Clocks until now. It seems that I have to give it a close look now.


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