Title – The Bone Clocks
Author – David Mitchell
Fifteen year old Holly Sykes is in a spot. She leaves her home after a horrible fight with her mother and finds out her boyfriend (the one she got in a fight over with her mom and ran out to move in with) is cheating on her with her best friend. Well she cant go back home so she just keeps going. Holly is different than most young girls though, she once could hear voices in her head, visions that melt into the reality of her mind. She has learned to hide them but they are always just there, on the edges of her world.
But the young runaway finds out the world is a lot darker than she imagined. Soon after she leaves her young brother Jacko goes missing and the police, assuming he is with Holly won’t even start searching. Holly rushes back home but Jacko is never found.
Holly’s life is about to change considerably. She has come to the attention of a society of eternal beings and her lost weekend is just the beginning. Holly is caught up in a War between two powerful factions. The Anchorites and the Horology. They are always there, on the periphery of existence. The Anchorites feed on children to maintain their mortality. But only gifted children with psychic abilities, like Holly and her brother Jacko. The Horologists try to protect the children but their numbers are few and the Anchorites grow.
This war rages on and throughout her life Holly is kept hidden from it. But it is always there, effecting all around her, until she can no longer remain hidden and must join in the battle.
The Bone Clocks builds its tale through characters and sub plots until it is joined together in the end in a final battle to save mankind from becoming a feeding ground for the soul eating Anchorites. Mitchell does a wonderful job of creating small stories within the novel that lead into the true plot.
Holly Sykes is a powerful and flawed woman who you will follow throughout her life as others weave in and out of her world. The narration is often in the voice of others and Holly and the eternal battle for the souls of mankind are just a shade in what is happening in these lives. Until, for better or worse, the eternal battle slams into these characters. But Holly herself is a very well developed character and her pain and suffering are as much a part of her as her love and triumphs.
This is fantasy fiction on a grand scale. What the Bone Clocks does so well is that it relies little on the fantasy part of its story but more on the human interaction and drama. When the fantasy does come into play it is always an intrusion. An accident in the story, a sideswipe or head on collision that will change the lives of the characters completely.
Mitchell builds the plot slowly. Depending on his skill and prose as a storyteller to hold you as the grander vision of the Bone Clocks opens up. This might be a gamble for some writers but for Mitchell, it is done with ease and flair. There is never a moment of desperation in the novel that it might lose you. Its sheer confidence in it story keeps you involved and wanting to know more. But Mitchell peels it back slowly until the final chapters where he reveals the true nature of the Bone Clocks.
His timing is impeccable.
Easily, one of the best novels of the year!