The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

In his award-winning 2004 novel, Cloud Atlas, British author David Mitchell interwove six disparate stories to form a narrative tapestry, taking the reader on a journey from 1850 to a post-apocalyptic future. Mitchell clearly realised from the positive reception that he was on to a good thing, for his new novel, The Bone Clocks, interweaves six disparate stories to form a narrative tapestry that takes the reader on a journey from 1984 to, well, a post-apocalyptic future. Despite this repeated formula, Mitchell has created in The Bone Clocks a tale that sizzles with life and, in this reviewer’s opinion, possibly outstrips its predecessor.

Unlike Cloud Atlas, The Bone Clocks has a clear protagonist: the rebellious, clairvoyant Holly Sykes, whose life is thrown into tumult from a young age by the disembodied voices of the ‘Radio People’ and the enigmatic Ms Constantin. From this absorbing beginning, Mitchell introduces a number of intricate characters – from the conniving Hugo Lamb to the vainglorious Crispin Hershey – all of whom affect the direction Holly’s life takes. Mitchell’s mastery of narrative voice really shines here; each of his characters is unique in tone, thought and action, and no character fails to draw the reader into their own private world of intrigue.

It is difficult to classify The Bone Clocks by genre; Mitchell enjoys blending them as much as he does narrative arcs. I think it would be safe to say that The Bone Clocks has something for everyone. And, if you’re already a Mitchell fan, there is the added bonus of discovering characters already encountered in his previous works: yet another dimension to an already captivating novel.


Samuel Zifchak works as a bookseller at Readings Carlton.

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The Bone Clocks

The Bone Clocks

David Mitchell

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