THE CHIMES – Anna Smaill


Published by Sceptre

Source: Bookbridgr

A boy stands by the roadside on his way to London, alone in the rain.

No memories, beyond what he can hold in his hands at any given moment.

No directions, as written words have long since been forbidden.

No parents – just a melody that tugs at him, a thread to follow. A song that says if he can just get to the capital, he may find some answers about what happened to them.

The world around Simon sings, each movement a pulse of rhythm, each object weaving its own melody, music ringing in every drop of air.

Welcome to the world of The Chimes. Here, life is orchestrated by a vast musical instrument that renders people unable to form new memories. The past is a mystery, each new day feels the same as the last, and before is blasphony.

But slowly, inexplicably, Simon is beginning to remember. He emerges from sleep each morning with a pricking feeling, a sense there is something he urgently has to do. In the city Simon meets Lucien, who has a gift for hearing, some secrets of his own, and a theory about the danger lurking in Simon’s past

Well I can honestly say I have never read anything quite like this before. Set in a dystopian world that exceeds my imagination, where memory no longer exists and the written word is referred to as ancient code, and everything, I mean everything is music. Music is not just the language, it is thought, it is emotion, it is life. This is initially quite difficult to grasp, and even more difficult to explain – not least because of the language in the book that is kind of brand new, and yet not – in fact it is almost an absence of language altogether. And it is simply captivating, and instils an urgent desire to find out just what the hell is going on?!!

We follow Simon, a boy who ventures into London following the death of his mother. Simon has nothing but a bag of objectmemories, items that an individual can attach their own memories to as they cannot be kept in the mind; and a song from his mother, a song that he has to find and follow in order to uncover a mystery that he does not yet know exists.

In London, Simon joins a gang of pactrunners, and is taken under the wing of the mysterious and intriguing Lucien, who tries to help Simon to do the most prohibited of all things; remember – and when this happens, they are both set on a path that will forever change the world.

THE CHIMES is simply gorgeous. Anna Smaill uses prose that is just exquisite, lyrical, and aptly melodic. There are just not enough eloquent superlatives to do this writing justice. It will draw you in and shake your core ideas of the world and spit you out again. And it really does spit you out; without giving too much away, I found myself furiously turning blank pages at the end of the book, looking to see if the final pages had somehow fallen out. It was over! And I’m still not quite sure if I was disappointed with the ending, or disappointed that it ended! I am most certainly mourning the words.

This is somewhat of a Marmite read – I think you really will either love it or hate it. It is not an easy-read. You cant read this on the train, or whilst cooking dinner, or whilst everyone else is watching TV. To fully appreciate this story and the beauty of its words the children must be in bed, the husband must be off doing something elsewhere. You must have silence, and calm. Only then can the full magic of THE CHIMES envelope you.

A captivating, ingenious, and awe-inspiring work of pure beauty. Let the music play!

My thanks to the publisher for providing this book for review.

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