The Ministry of Time by Kaliane Bradley

Reviewed by Antonella Townsend

I have long since thought the publishing industry’s insistence that novels fall into a genre straight-jacket somewhat unnecessary, not to mention unimaginative.  Breaking through the mundane, Kaliane Bradley’s debut novel The Ministry of Time creates its own mixed-genre benchmark.

Written in the first person, our narrator is a bi-racial, jaded, civil servant, who falls in love with a British Naval Officer Graham Gore.  But there is a bit of an age gap – some 200 years. Gore was in fact the First Lieutenant on Sir John Franklin’s ill-fated expedition to the Arctic in 1845, freezing to death while hunting for provisions.  However, in this novel Gore has been dragged through a time portal arriving in future 2047 Britain.  Hence, The Ministry of Time could be classified as a historical, rom-com, sci-fi, speculative fiction novel.   And, it’s a page turner – murder and mystery abound!

Bradley’s pace gallops along, but the prose does not suffer in the process, neither does the humour.  This is an amusing, well-written, thought-provoking novel, infused with a wide range of intelligent social political commentary that seamlessly keeps in step with plot and character.

A time machine has been discovered and the newly formed Ministry of Time is now researching the effects time-travel might have on humans.  Commander Graham Gore was not the only expatriate to be hauled into the twenty-first century for the sake of experiment.  There are several others, each from varying eras, all of whom were rescued from imminent death, consequently relocating them from the past should not impact the course of future history.  That was good thinking, takes care of a few time-travel mind bender problems. And, as The Ministry’s thinking goes, should they die in the process, it isn’t really murder.  The expats are struggling with issues of ‘hereness’ and ‘thereness’ problems, be it in mind, soul, or body, no one really knows, what after all constitutes a human. Because of ‘thereness’, and conveniently for the plot, they do not register on MRI or airport scanners.  To help with assimilation, improving their ‘hereness’, each have been assigned a ‘bridge’: a Ministry employee who lives with them.  The bridge’s job is to monitor progress and report back to the Wellness Centre.  Our nameless, narrator is assigned to the handsome Graham Gore and the inevitable happens.  Bradley is adept at the sexy scene.  But so much happens before that, after all Gore is at heart a Victorian man and our narrator is floundering. In this, Bradley’s characters are relatable; flawed, forced by circumstances to evolve in order to endure what’s happening in a crazy 21st century.  The portal itself is under threat from those with good and bad intentions, government departments are at war with one another, characters and readers alike are left wondering who to trust in all the murder and mayhem, not to mention twists of corkscrew proportions in the latter stages.

Surprisingly, suspending disbelief requires little effort here as current events that readers will be all too aware of are transported into the narrative.  Consequently, there are a broad range of serious issues weaved into the texture of novel: language, colonialism, slavery, racism, racial identity, climate, gender, sexuality equality and even care.  In this, Bradley’s flair and wit remains robust.

The Ministry of Time hits all the right notes to produce an entertaining yet thought-provoking novel.

A brilliant debut by Kaliane Bradley.

The Ministry of Time

By Kaliane Bradley


Hachette Australia


ISBN: 978 139972 635 1



ISBN: 978 139972 634 4



ISBN:  978 139972 637 5



ISBN:  978 139 972638 2



🤞 Want to get the latest book reviews in your inbox?

🤞 Want to get the latest book reviews in your inbox?

Scroll to Top