Review: The Chimes by Anna Smaill

TheChimesPublished by: Hachette Australia
ISBN 13: 9781444794533
Published: February 2015
Pages: 289
Format reviewed: Manuscript format from publisher (that’s a first!)
Site: Author Site
Goodreads: Book Page
Stars: Three out of Five

The Chimes is a novel about what might happen if the written word were replaced with music. (Taken from the author’s website.) This is a hard book to describe – the only thing I want to babble is how beautiful the cover is, look at it!

We meet Simon from the first page, a man who has lost his memory and has come to London on a quest because of his now late mother. The whole world lacks their memory, and orders are to live life the same each day, something music aids them with. Simon is our protagonist because he begins to gain a memory, something blasphemous in this world. He also meets Lucien who contains countless secrets, who becomes part of his life because of his theories of Simon’s past. This is a dystopian novel that appears to be a literary novel – quite like Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel – managing to bring dystopian through to fancy writing rather than the usually sniffed at straight fantasy genre.

This is a beautiful book, written with musical terms throughout that replace certain words entirely. This however, makes it a little hard to read and get into if you’re not a musical person – it’s a struggle to fall into the narrative, but once you do you’re rewarded with a truly beautiful novel. It’s lyrical, it’s a work of art. This also makes it hard to review because all you can really say is that it’s a book you should read, and that you should get yourself through the first hundred pages in order to be rewarded – anything further you say about the writing or characters ruins the crescendo of it all somewhat.

This is truly a special book, it’s just a shame about how accessible it is (and the info dump in the middle also that isn’t as smoothly handled as it could have been with dramatic editing) but… all that aside, it remains a book that needs to be shared and should be read. It’s ethereal, dreamlike and special indeed. You can tell the author breathes music and that she’s also a poet – it shows.

So basically – get this book, persevere with it. It’s worth it.


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