Genre: Postmodern, Fantasy
Narrative Style: First person from different but interlinked points of view.
Synopsis: Holly Sykes sometimes hears voices and has strange visions she calls ‘daymares’. She appears to attract psychic phenomena. Little does she realise what she is doing when she offers an old woman called Esther Little sanctuary. As a result, she is drawn into a war between the Horologists and their enemies the Anchorites.
Reading Challenge: Full House Reading Challenge: Genre – Attractive Cover
This is a bit of a weird category for me. I don’t really take that much notice of a book’s cover. It’s not something that factors into the buying process particularly. I usually have a good idea of what I want when I go into a bookshop. And if I don’t then an attractive cover could easily be overridden by a dull synopsis. Or vice versa. The result of this was me searching through my books for what would pass as an attractive cover. There were less then you might expect.
This is my third David Mitchell so I knew what to expect: multiple narrators, spirtual nonsense about reincarnation, linking stories where you have to spot the connection. On all three counts, I wasn’t disappointed.
For the most part, I enjoyed this book. Mitchell writes different voices well – they are all distinctive and realistic. My favourite out of The Bone Clocks narrators was Crispin Hershey, author and artistic snob who is dealing with some of the worst reviews of his career. However, as I found with Ghostwritten, not all narrators are equally loveable and some sections of this book were easier to get on with than others.
I also found some of the spiritual details a little hard to take on board. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against all fantasy or anything like that. Just it was most enjoyable when the spiritual ideas were in the background. But when one of the narrators is a horologist and more details are revealed about what exactly is going on, I found it harder and harder to suspend my disbelief.
I was a little let down by the means by which Holly escaped the Second War. Although the reader is prepared for her survival by the knowledge that her little brother was really a horologist and had given her some of the means for her escape in the form of a labrynth necklace. The final detail of the golden apple just felt like a step too far.
Also, Hugo Lamb who until this point has been unbearably selfish and mean, psychopathic almost, suddenly has a complete change of heart. It is suggested that this is because he loved Holly but this did not feel convincing to me.
The ending was also disappointing. Holly’s final section shows a world that has destroyed itself. The Internet is all but gone, food rations are in place and there has been a nuclear reactor meltdown which is causing radiation problems. All of the details in this section were convincing and I was ready to give a higher rating. However, once again, a sudden piece of good luck allows survival to Holly’s children, if not Holly herself. As with the golden apple that saves Holly earlier, the sudden appearance of the Icelandic vessel is a bit of lazy plot device, a deus ex machina by any standard. Although the reappearance of Marinus, Holly’s saviour, was to be expected, this was heavy handed.
For all that, this is an interesting book which is largely well-written. The characters are rounded and their voices were unique. They all had well-developed personalities. Of course, the idea of reincarnation is fascinating and something that Mitchell is clearly interested in. However, it is not something I can really believe in, even in a fictional context and so that spoiled things a little for me.