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The Bone Clocks

Cover of The Bone Clocks

The Bone Clocks

A Novel
The New York Times bestseller by the author of Cloud Atlas | Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize | Named One of the Top Ten Fiction Books of the Year by Time, Entertainment Weekly, and O: The Oprah Magazine | A New York Times Notable Book | An American Library Association Notable Book | Winner of the World Fantasy Award

Named to more than 20 year-end best of lists, including
NPR | San Francisco Chronicle | The Atlantic | The Guardian | Slate | BuzzFeed

Look for special features inside. Join the Random House Reader's Circle for author chats and more.
"With The Bone Clocks, [David] Mitchell rises to meet and match the legacy of Cloud Atlas."—Los Angeles Times
Following a terrible fight with her mother over her boyfriend, fifteen-year-old Holly Sykes slams the door on her family and her old life. But Holly is no typical teenage runaway: A sensitive child once contacted by voices she knew only as "the radio people," Holly is a lightning rod for psychic phenomena. Now, as she wanders deeper into the English countryside, visions and coincidences reorder her reality until they assume the aura of a nightmare brought to life.

For Holly has caught the attention of a cabal of dangerous mystics—and their enemies. But her lost weekend is merely the prelude to a shocking disappearance that leaves her family irrevocably scarred. This unsolved mystery will echo through every decade of Holly's life, affecting all the people Holly loves—even the ones who are not yet born.

A Cambridge scholarship boy grooming himself for wealth and influence, a conflicted father who feels alive only while reporting on the war in Iraq, a middle-aged writer mourning his exile from the bestseller list—all have a part to play in this surreal, invisible war on the margins of our world. From the medieval Swiss Alps to the nineteenth-century Australian bush, from a hotel in Shanghai to a Manhattan townhouse in the near future, their stories come together in moments of everyday grace and extraordinary wonder.

Rich with character and realms of possibility, The Bone Clocks is a kaleidoscopic novel that begs to be taken apart and put back together by a writer The Washington Post calls "the novelist who's been showing us the future of fiction."

An elegant conjurer of interconnected tales, a genre-bending daredevil, and a master prose stylist, David Mitchell has become one of the leading literary voices of his generation. His hypnotic new novel, The Bone Clocks, crackles with invention and wit and sheer storytelling pleasure—it is fiction at its most spellbinding.
Praise for The Bone Clocks

"One of the most entertaining and thrilling novels I've read in a long time."—Meg Wolitzer, NPR
"[Mitchell] writes with a furious intensity and slapped-awake vitality, with a delight in language and all the rabbit holes of experience."The New York Times Book Review

"Intensely compelling . . . fantastically witty . . . offers up a rich selection of domestic realism, gothic fantasy and apocalyptic speculation."The Washington Post

"[A] time-traveling, culture-crossing, genre-bending marvel of a novel."O: The Oprah Magazine

"Great fun . . . a tour de force . . . [Mitchell] channels his narrators with vivid expertise."San Francisco Chronicle
From the Trade Paperback edition.
The New York Times bestseller by the author of Cloud Atlas | Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize | Named One of the Top Ten Fiction Books of the Year by Time, Entertainment Weekly, and O: The Oprah Magazine | A New York Times Notable Book | An American Library Association Notable Book | Winner of the World Fantasy Award

Named to more than 20 year-end best of lists, including
NPR | San Francisco Chronicle | The Atlantic | The Guardian | Slate | BuzzFeed

Look for special features inside. Join the Random House Reader's Circle for author chats and more.
"With The Bone Clocks, [David] Mitchell rises to meet and match the legacy of Cloud Atlas."—Los Angeles Times
Following a terrible fight with her mother over her boyfriend, fifteen-year-old Holly Sykes slams the door on her family and her old life. But Holly is no typical teenage runaway: A sensitive child once contacted by voices she knew only as "the radio people," Holly is a lightning rod for psychic phenomena. Now, as she wanders deeper into the English countryside, visions and coincidences reorder her reality until they assume the aura of a nightmare brought to life.

For Holly has caught the attention of a cabal of dangerous mystics—and their enemies. But her lost weekend is merely the prelude to a shocking disappearance that leaves her family irrevocably scarred. This unsolved mystery will echo through every decade of Holly's life, affecting all the people Holly loves—even the ones who are not yet born.

A Cambridge scholarship boy grooming himself for wealth and influence, a conflicted father who feels alive only while reporting on the war in Iraq, a middle-aged writer mourning his exile from the bestseller list—all have a part to play in this surreal, invisible war on the margins of our world. From the medieval Swiss Alps to the nineteenth-century Australian bush, from a hotel in Shanghai to a Manhattan townhouse in the near future, their stories come together in moments of everyday grace and extraordinary wonder.

Rich with character and realms of possibility, The Bone Clocks is a kaleidoscopic novel that begs to be taken apart and put back together by a writer The Washington Post calls "the novelist who's been showing us the future of fiction."

An elegant conjurer of interconnected tales, a genre-bending daredevil, and a master prose stylist, David Mitchell has become one of the leading literary voices of his generation. His hypnotic new novel, The Bone Clocks, crackles with invention and wit and sheer storytelling pleasure—it is fiction at its most spellbinding.
Praise for The Bone Clocks

"One of the most entertaining and thrilling novels I've read in a long time."—Meg Wolitzer, NPR
"[Mitchell] writes with a furious intensity and slapped-awake vitality, with a delight in language and all the rabbit holes of experience."The New York Times Book Review

"Intensely compelling . . . fantastically witty . . . offers up a rich selection of domestic realism, gothic fantasy and apocalyptic speculation."The Washington Post

"[A] time-traveling, culture-crossing, genre-bending marvel of a novel."O: The Oprah Magazine

"Great fun . . . a tour de force . . . [Mitchell] channels his narrators with vivid expertise."San Francisco Chronicle
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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Excerpts-
  • From the book

    June 30I fling open my bedroom curtains, and there's the thirsty sky and the wide river full of ships and boats and stuff, but I'm already thinking of Vinny's chocolaty eyes, shampoo down Vinny's back, beads of sweat on Vinny's shoulders, and Vinny's sly laugh, and by now my heart's going mental and, God, I wish I was waking up at Vinny's place in Peacock Street and not in my own stupid bedroom. Last night, the words just said themselves, "Christ, I really love you, Vin," and Vinny puffed out a cloud of smoke and did this Prince Charles voice, "One must say, one's frightfully partial to spending time with you too, Holly Sykes," and I nearly weed myself laughing, though I was a bit narked he didn't say "I love you too" back. If I'm honest. Still, boyfriends act goofy to hide stuff, any magazine'll tell you. Wish I could phone him right now. Wish they'd invent phones you can speak to anyone anywhere anytime on. He'll be riding his Norton to work in Rochester right now, in his leather jacket with led zep spelled out in silver studs. Come September, when I turn sixteen, he'll take me out on his Norton.

    Someone slams a cupboard door, below.

    Mam. No one else'd dare slam a door like that.

    Suppose she's found out? says a twisted voice.

    No. We've been too careful, me and Vinny.

    She's menopausal, is Mam. That'll be it.

    Talking Heads' Fear of Music is on my record player, so I lower the stylus. Vinny bought me this LP, the second Saturday we met at Magic Bus Records. It's an amazing record. I like "Heaven" and "Memories Can't Wait" but there's not a weak track on it. Vinny's been to New York and actually saw Talking Heads, live. His mate Dan was on security and got Vinny backstage after the gig, and he hung out with David Byrne and the band. If he goes back next year, he's taking me. I get dressed, finding each love bite and wishing I could go to Vinny's tonight, but he's meeting a bunch of mates in Dover. Men hate it when women act jealous, so I pretend not to be. My best friend Stella's gone to London to hunt for secondhand clothes at Camden Market. Mam says I'm still too young to go to London without an adult so Stella took Ali Jessop instead. My biggest thrill today'll be hoovering the bar to earn my three ­pounds' pocket money. Whoopy-­doo. Then I've got next week's exams to revise for. But for two pins I'd hand in blank papers and tell school where to shove Pythagoras triangles and Lord of the Flies and their life cycles of worms. I might, too.

    Yeah. I might just do that.

    Down in the kitchen, the atmosphere's like Antarctica. "Morning," I say, but only Jacko looks up from the window-­seat where he's drawing. Sharon's through in the lounge part, watching a cartoon. Dad's downstairs in the hallway, talking with the delivery guy--­the truck from the brewery's grumbling away in front of the pub. Mam's chopping cooking apples into cubes, giving me the silent treatment. I'm supposed to say, "What's wrong, Mam, what have I done?" but sod that for a game of soldiers. Obviously she noticed I was back late last night, but I'll let her raise the topic. I pour some milk over my Weetabix and take it to the table. Mam clangs the lid onto the pan and comes over. "Right. What have you got to say for yourself?"

    "Good morning to you too, Mam. Another hot day."

    "What have you got to say for yourself, young lady?"

    If in doubt, act innocent. " 'Bout what exactly?"

    Her eyes go all snaky. "What time did you get home?"

    "Okay, okay, so I was a bit late, sorry."

    "Two hours isn't 'a bit late.' Where were you?"

    I munch my Weetabix. "Stella's. Lost track of time."

    "Well,...

About the Author-
  • David Mitchell is the award-winning and bestselling author of The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, Black Swan Green, Cloud Atlas, Number9Dream, and Ghostwritten. Twice shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, Mitchell was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time in 2007. With KA Yoshida, Mitchell co-translated from the Japanese the international bestselling memoir The Reason I Jump. He lives in Ireland with his wife and two children.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from June 2, 2014
    Is The Bone Clocks the most ambitious novel ever written, or just the most Mitchell-esque? We begin in the punk years with a teenage Talking Heads–obsessed runaway from Gravesend, England, named Holly Sykes. She becomes a pawn in a spiritual war between the mysterious "Radio People" and the benevolent Horologists, led by the body-shifting immortal Marinus. Many more characters and places soon find themselves worked into Marinus's "Script" across the book's six sections: there's Hugo Lamb, a cunning, amoral Cambridge student spending Christmas 1991 in Switzerland, where he encounters an older Holly tending bar; then it's the height of the Bush/Blair years, and our narrator is Holly's husband, Edmund Brubeck, a war reporter dispatched to Baghdad. Another flash-forward lands us in the present day, where the middling novelist Crispin Hershey weathers a succession of literary feuds, becomes confidante of a New Agey Holly and her daughter, then has his own unsettling encounter with the Radio People. In the penultimate section, Marinus reveals the nature of the Script—the secret conflict lurking just beneath mortal affairs—and how Holly may be the key to a resolution whose repercussions won't be known until 2043, when the aged Holly rides out a curiously sedate end-time in rural Ireland. From gritty realism to far-out fantasy, each section has its own charm and surprises. With its wayward thoughts, chance meetings, and attention to detail, Mitchell's (The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet) novel is a thing of beauty.

  • Meg Wolitzer, NPR "One of the most entertaining and thrilling novels I've read in a long time."
  • The New York Times Book Review (Editor's Choice) "Astonishing . . . No one, clearly, has ever told [David] Mitchell that the novel is dead. He writes with a furious intensity and slapped-awake vitality, with a delight in language and all the rabbit holes of experience. . . . In his sixth novel, he's brought together the time-capsule density of his eyes-wide-open adventure in traditional realism with the death-defying ambitions of Cloud Atlasuntil all borders between pubby England and the machinations of the undead begin to blur. . . . Not many novelists could take on plausible Aboriginal speech, imagine a world after climate change has ravaged it and wonder whether whales suffer from unrequited love. . . . Very few [writers] excite the reader about both the visceral world and the visionary one as Mitchell does."
  • The Washington Post "Intensely compelling . . . fantastically witty . . . offers up a rich selection of domestic realism, gothic fantasy and apocalyptic speculation."
  • O: The Oprah Magazine "Sprawling yet disciplined, drunk on life but ever cognizant of its brevity and preciousness, this time-traveling, culture-crossing, genre-bending marvel of a novel by the highly regarded author of Cloud Atlas utterly beguiles."
  • San Francisco Chronicle "Great fun . . . a tour de force . . . [Mitchell] channels his narrators with vivid expertise."
  • The Boston Globe "Mitchell is one of the most electric writers alive. To open a Mitchell book is to set forth on an adventure. . . . In his latest novel, The Bone Clocks, Mitchell has spun his most far-flung tale yet. . . . Strange and magical."
  • Entertainment Weekly "Magical . . . [The Bone Clocks] perfectly illustrates the idea that we're all the heroes of our own lives as well as single cogs in a much larger and more beautiful mechanism. [Grade:] A"
  • Vanity Fair "Transportingly great . . . If David Mitchell isn't the most talented novelist of his generation, is there any doubt that he is the most multi-talented? He is, at his best, a superior writer to Jonathan Franzen, a better storyteller than Michael Chabon, more wickedly clever than Jennifer Egan, nearly as fluent as Junot Díaz in multiple dialects, and as gifted as Alice Munro. . . . The Bone Clocks affords its readers the singular gift of reading--the wish to stay put and to be nowhere else but here."--The Atlantic "Mitchell's mesmerizing saga is evidence of the power of story to transport us, and even to stop time entirely."
  • The Miami Herald "[A] literary marvel . . . What we value defines us, The Bone Clocks tells us. Sometimes it's life. Sometimes it's love. It's definitely this book."
  • Los Angeles Times "Mitchell's wit, imagination and gorgeous prose make this a page-turner."--People "Mind-bendingly ambitious . . . The force of [Mitchell's] storytelling makes The Bone Clocks a joy."--Time "A tour de force of the imagination, rewarding the attentive reader with both the intricate richness of its plot and the beauty of its language."--The Plain Dealer "Told with the skill and nuance of a gifted ventriloquist."--USA Today "Mitchell rises to meet and match the legacy of Cloud Atlas."
  • Stephen King "Reading a David Mitchell novel is a little like wandering through a multiplex during that September sweet spot when the best summer blockbusters are screened alongside autumn's more serious fare. The Bone Clocks is no exception. Mitchell's generous imagination saturates every sentence, character, and setting to create a story as thrilling in its language as in its plot. It's my favorite novel I've read this year, and the only one I've already reread."--Anthony Marra "Great story, great words, all good."
  • Esquire "A hell of a great read . . . wild, funny, terrifying . . . a slipstream masterpiece all its own . . . Mitchell is a genre-bending, time-leaping, world-traveling, puzzle-making, literary magician, and The Bone Clocks is one of his best books."
  • The New Yorker "Mitchell is a superb storyteller. . . . One
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