Review: The Bone Clocks

Posted June 11, 2015

I received this book for free from bookbridgr, Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Bone Clocks The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell
Published by Sceptre Genres: Literary, Magical Realism
Format: Paperback
Source: bookbridgr, Publisher

Run away, one drowsy summer's afternoon, with Holly Sykes: wayward teenager, broken-hearted revel and unwitting pawn in a titanic, hidden conflict.

Over six decades, the consequences of a moment's impulse unfold, drawing an ordinary woman into a world far beyond her imagining. And as life in the near future turns perilous, the pledge she made to a stranger may become the key to her family's survival...


The Bone Clocks is a book that spans over 60 years. Each chapter deals with a different character, at a different time. These characters are seemingly unrelated at first, until it becomes apparent that Holly Sykes is a common thread throughout.

Now let me say that this was my first experience of David Mitchell’s work and to be honest, at the start I was scared. I really wasn’t sure what I was reading. Beginning with a chapter about Holly Sykes that seemed like a story of a typical adolescent, I thought I had the measure of this novel. Erm, no, not even close. By the end of this chapter, strange, unexplained things were happening and I honestly was starting to question whether I had the brain capacity for this book.

When the second chapter launched into the details of Hugo Lamb’s life I was totally confused. I really didn’t “get” this book. At this point I watched an author spotlight on David Mitchell by one of my favourite BookTubers, MercysBookishMusings and things started to make a bit more sense. She explained Mitchell’s style that he enjoys writing novellas and incorporating these novellas into a whole novel; that these novellas all connect together in some way and that slowly the connections become apparent.

I’m so glad I watched this video as I started to relax more and just enjoy The Bone Clocks journey. These individual chapters, or novellas, are so full of information, so well formed that at times I quite forgot that I was reading about a different character than in the last chapter.

There was one character that I struggled with and that was Crispin Hershley. I’m quite sure that at the start of his story we aren’t meant to like him, but I found it a hard slog to read through to the point where he became tolerable. Aside from Crispin, the other characters had me completely absorbed. They were all so different, with incredible, fully formed stories, and somehow Holly Sykes was woven into their lives – I loved that!

Now, that might sound enough, but there is FAR more to this book. Beginning with these unexplained things that I really didn’t understand, there is a whole fantasy (or perhaps magical realism is the more appropriate phrase?) side to this book. Mitchell weaves threads and sows seeds throughout this novel that eventually begin to make sense. By the end of this book, I couldn’t believe I was still reading the same story that contained Holly the adolescent.

This book is extremely clever. Mitchell’s writing is quite incredible and I can’t believe he packed so much detail into 600-odd pages.

I’m being deliberately vague about the actual contents and themes of the book as I feel that is a journey that should evolve through the novel itself. What I will say is that if you feel “lost” at the start of this book just go with it, enjoy the characters for their individual, incredibly detailed stories and all will eventually become clear.

I’m definitely looking forward to reading more of David Mitchell’s work. I think Cloud Atlas will be next for me.

Have you read The Bone Clocks or any of David Mitchell’s work? I’d love to hear your thoughts.