Title: “The Bone Clocks”

Author: David Mitchell

Year of Publication: 2014

Genre: Fantasy


David Mitchell is an ambitious author. I think that is what draws me towards his work. This novel is similar in many ways to his most popular story, “Cloud Atlas,” in that there are six different stories being told with the backdrop of these stories being the connection between them. It is also similar to “Cloud Atlas” because in each of these stories, a recurring theme is the ability of the soul to traverse death from lifetime to lifetime throughout history.

The backdrop of this novel is a war being waged between two types of individuals, Anchorites and Horologists. Both of these type of people are immortal, but with differences. Anchorites gain immortality by sacrificing the souls of innocently normal people, whereas Horologists are naturally immortal by traversing their soul from life to life through physical human bodies.

But these are not the main characters. Holly Sykes is a girl from a working-class family in suburban England, trying to understand why all of this “weird shit” keeps happening to her. The story follows several characters from 1984-2043, but with Holly frequently reoccurring throughout.

Sykes doesn’t understand everything that happens to her throughout her life, hearing voices and blacking out and speaking in tongues, but she comes to realize that she is a central piece in a war she knows nothing about.

“The Bone Clocks” is a very enjoyable read for those who love storytelling and great character development, but not a great novel for those who are impatient and need continual plot development. The story is definitely told at a slow-pace, with not many answers until the final 150-200 pages. And even after that, there are still questions which remain.

I think this is why Mitchell wrote “Slade House,” which gives the reader a much more in depth view into what is really going on behind the scenes of “The Bone Clocks.” You can check out our review of “Slade House” here, and it is recommended that these novels are read together.

TL;DR: Immortals battle over the ethics of immortality as a backdrop for a girl going through life trying to figure out why all of these weird things keep happening to her.

Verdict: A long read at times, but the storytelling with rich characters by Mitchell is absolutely superb and worth the time, even if this novel leaves you with more questions than answers.