Cover Image: The Ministry of Time

The Ministry of Time

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

I’m stingy with my 5-star reviews. Sometimes, I wonder if I’m too stingy - is there really that much of a difference between a 4.5 and a perfect 5? Such were my thoughts before reading The Ministry of Time, which was, hands down, one of the best books I’ve read in 2024. Tense, action-packed, laugh-out-loud funny, and swooningly romantic, it’s the kind of book that stands a cut above the rest - the kind of book that more than earns that extra 0.5.

This is the story of Bridge, our unnamed narrator, a civil servant tasked with monitoring the expat known as “1847” or Commander Graham Gore. Graham is an “expat” in a heavily metaphorical sense: he’s from the 1840s, and has been brought through time to test the limits of time travel. A repressed Victorian, Graham grapples with the challenges of adjusting to concepts like “ washing machine,” “Spotify,” and “the collapse of the British Empire.” Over the course of their time together, Graham and Bridge develop a tentative friendship - and, eventually, heartbreakingly, something more.

This book absolutely destroyed me. Bridge has such a compelling and charming narrative voice, and her relationship with the expats was an absolute treasure. I couldn’t put this book down: at one moment, I was laughing out loud over Graham’s discovery of Motown; the next moment, I was sobbing over the expats’ visit to a museum.

The strengths of this book lie both in the writing and the characters. This is a difficult book to quantify: pitched as a science fiction romance, it’s equally a found family spy thriller. Personally, I could take or leave the science fiction/thriller elements. I did, on occasion, skim over a paragraph or two of science so I could get back to the meat and potatoes of it all: the love story.

It’s not a spoiler to say this is a love story. It’s a love story in the Fleabag “this is a love story” kind of way. It’s a love story between Bridge and Graham, but it’s equally a love story between Bridge and Maggie, Maggie and Arthur, the expats and the present, and the expats and their past. This is a book that mulls on what it means to craft a narrative, to live in the shadow of empire, and whether it’s even possible to change history given that history is, after all, a semantic construction. As a historian, I was floored by how much empathy and care was given to these questions, but as a reader, I was equally blown away by how real Graham, Arthur, Maggie, and, of course, Bridge felt.

This is a book that emotionally destroyed me. I laughed, I cried, and the final page left me so emotionally upended that I found myself staring at the cracks in the ceiling. I’ve heard there’s a BBC series (!) produced by A24 (!!), and I cannot wait.

If you’re a fan of history, science fiction, romance, thrillers — any and all of the above, really, I am begging you to read this book. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go listen to some 19th century sea shanties while I stitch my heart back together.

Was this review helpful?

4.5 stars

I loved this book so much. The prose is so well written. The phrases and descriptions used are incredibly unique, but nothing feels out of place or like it's trying too hard, which is really difficult to effectively pull off. The prose was still very easy to read and the plot was interesting. It was well paced and at not point did I feel like it was stagnating.

The characters were all so compelling. Even if I didn't like them, I was still interested in each character. There were tiny little things thrown here and there that were really interesting minor details that gave some of those smaller characters depth. I did wish there was a little but more with the sister but I also think what we were given as so interesting where I'm sort of okay with there not being more?

Some of the plot twists were predicable and some were very unexpected. I thought the themes (memory/knowledge, guilt, power, identity/community) were really interesting. Bradley definitely put time and thought into engaging with these ideas.

The only reason I haven't given it a full five stars is because I have slightly forgotten about it over the past few weeks. It doesn't haunt me in the way a 5 star read should, but I think when I reread it (which I know I will want to soon), I will find more in the novel and it could get a full give stars then.

Thank you to NetGalley and Avid Reader Press for the eARC!

Was this review helpful?

The Ministry of Time is thrillingly ambititious; a blazing, inventive, hilarious and heartbreaking novel. I realise that's a lot of descriptors but it really did tick all the boxes for me. Bradley's debut is part time travel romance, part spy thriller and part exploration of the legacy of British Colonialism, and the author somehow manages to blend these disparate elements nearly seamlessly.
A deeply romantic sci-fi that also manages to raise interesting questions about colonialism, The Ministry of Time is achingly slow burn and deliciously satisfying.

The Ministry of Time is light on plot, but big on concepts: set in a near-future (?) Britain, it's a story told to us by The Bridge, a young British-Cambodian woman who works for the aforementioned ministry. The Ministry of Time is a secretive branch of the government that has recently discovered time-travel. They have gathered 5 "expats" from various different time periods and want to see what happens to them. Civil servants, including our narrator, are drafted in - under intensive NDAs - to help the expats adjust to the new time periods that they find themselves in. What nobody really anticipates - least of all the Bridge herself - is a slow-burn and intensive romance to build between herself and Commander Graham Gore, her expat, who is fresh from the Antartic winter of 1847.

This is a really introspective book, a slow-burn romance, and a wild ride. It can be difficult to get your head around - I would have loved a hard copy to annotate and make notes in - as there is a plethora of characters, locations and times to get to know. Different characters have wildly different ways of speaking, and some of the expats have several nicknames that kept me on my toes to keep up with who was who. It's not a perfect book by any means, especially given Bradley's high-wire act to keep all of her genres in the air. But she largely pulls it off, and also does a great job of building the world and its characters so no-one feels one-dimensional. I will say that it is dense, and requires a lot of thought - it's not a difficult read but it did take me a long time to get through as I had so much food for thought.

Dense but never boring, it's also a really, really funny novel! Bradley imbues The Bridge with a dry sense of humour that I couldn't get enough of, and it really made the character sing for me. The expats are funny in a fish-out-of-water way (obsessed with the scenes where Maggie learns about dating apps) but they're sweet, too. Once the slow-burn romance kicked in, it became clear that The Ministry of Time is an unabashedly romantic novel. There were scenes that had me kicking my feet (the christmas telephone call!!!!) and the central couple's chemistry jumps off the page. Obsessed tbh.

I also found the novel's tackling of Britain's colonial legacy really excellent, and biting. Authors of colour are tackling knottier issues of race these days, it seems, and this is the second 2024 debut I've read that carries it off with aplomb. The unpacking doesn't impact on the plot massively, in terms of action, but does massively impact the relationships The Bridge has with others in the novel.

I was blown away by Bradley's mish-mashing of genres: it's audacious, and thrillingly unique, so I am willing to overlook the flaws in the novel. Not perfect, but pretty damn close.

Was this review helpful?

A deeply romantic sci-fi that also manages to raise interesting questions about colonialism, The Ministry of Time is achingly slow burn and deliciously satisfying.

This novel is a Romance in the way Pride & Prejudice is a romance, in that while the romance is a driving force of the story, the novel is also about more than just the love story. The plot itself isn’t the strongest (in fact, for most of the story, the there isn’t really a plot, just on-boarding Lieutenant Gore into modern life and the narrator’s pining for him), but the sub-plot regarding the narrator’s wrestling with her heritage (in that she’s falling for a guy who was part of the colonialist regime, and as she is a mixed-race person of colour, she has to reconcile with that) is compelling and very relevant to today’s world. The romance aspect itself is wonderful.

I will admit, when I first started the book, I was like, “First person? Nooooo,” because I often find first person in Romance to be rather unbearable. I think because I prefer to watch the romance bloom on both sides of the couple, to watch when and how they fall for the other person, rather than someone’s horny thoughts. But, I will say, once I got about ten percent in, the first person tense started working for me, and when I reached the end, first person ended up making perfect sense for the novel.

This is because the book is an epistolary novel. The narrator is writing to someone directly about what happened to her and the reason why she is doing so, and how this plays into the aforementioned plots and subplots is very interesting when you consider this structure as the story begins to wrap up. It also allows for a hopeful yet open-ended ending that, honestly, is kind of perfect. It’s one of those “I heave a great sigh” kind of endings.

In terms of the romance itsel, anyone who loves Mr. Darcy will love this, because Lieutenant Gore is absolutely swoon-worthy because he’s a dude who learns from his mistakes and changes for the better (also, brooding). He’s inherently a “good guy” but obviously has some outdated ideas about society, yet, he adapts and his prudishness is kind of romantic. The love story is amazingly slow burn, but, unlike the classic romance tales, we actually get a few sex scenes (and, quite honestly, one of the best first kisses I’ve read in a long time. I read it like five times) and unlike spicy Romances of today, we’re not subjected to long descriptions of sex that, at least in my opinion, are kind of boring. While I’m not opposed to sex scenes, I’m more into the build-up towards them as opposed to descriptions of the sex itself. This book has the perfect balance of what I prefer and some spice, so in my eyes, it's rather perfect.

Also, this book, rather indirectly, deals with history. Lieutenant Gore is one of the people - a real life person - who died as part of the Franklin Expedition. If you’ve had the pleasure of reading The Terror, are a history buff, or have watched the AMC show The Terror, you’ll know the story. There’s also a subtle reference to Wilfred Owen, one of the WWI poets. I studied them in university and I absolutely love them, so that was a great addition and made perfect sense - it also subtly alluded to Arthur’s own mental state. The inclusion of these aspects was a real treat for me, a history nerd.

If you enjoy “fish out of water” elements, you’ll also get a kick out of this, because most of the novel is acclimatising Gore and a few others from their societies to the modern world. I find this incredibly fun, so if you also like this, you’ll love that aspect.

The writing is also lovely. The narrator herself is a bit of an old soul, so while the writing is contemporary, it retains an almost literary feel at times that reins in the story nicely.

Overall, if you couldn’t tell, I adored The Ministry of Time. If you like time travel stories (in the sense of people from the past being brought into the modern times), romance, and just an engaging story with interesting characters, you will likely enjoy this very much.

Was this review helpful?

This was lovely mix of many genres, I don't know that I've read something that encompassed my favorite elements from historic fiction, spy thriller, romance and time travel so well. It was a wild ride from beginning to end full of twists, unpredictable humor and well rounded characters!

Was this review helpful?

While I started out enjoying this story and the premise was fascinating, the myriad of characters and all the names they went by: first name, last name, year they were pulled from, or even just last two digits of the year they were pulled from became very confusing. So I did struggle to finish it and enjoy it. I did really like some of the characters such as Commander Graham Gore. And the overall story was, as I said, fascinating. Recommended for those who have a lot of time to read and a long attention span.

Was this review helpful?

I was very excited for this book based on the synopsis and some early reviews, but unfortunately it was a bust for me. I was absolutely not meshing with this writing style. It felt clunky and hard to get into. I loved the concept so this was wildly disappointing, but I personally struggled to follow this story.

Thank you to the publisher for granting me access to an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions remain my own.

Was this review helpful?

I have never looked up so many words while reading a book in my life. While I enjoy expanding my vocab, I thought at times that some words were used unnecessarily (hello patella instead of kneecap).

Despite that, I really enjoyed the writing of this book! It was a pretty slow pace and took me longer than it typically would to read a book of this length, but I found the writing compelling. I was fairly engaged the entire time but it could have had a bit more plot earlier on to make the book more interesting. The end by contrast was super fast and I almost felt like I needed to reread it to wrap my head around everything that happened in the last 15% of the book. It got confusing with so much happening after a slower pace for the majority of the book. I felt like it could have been improved by adding in more of the action earlier on.

Overall, this book seemed like something I’d absolutely love but I just ended up feeling a little luke warm about. The ending was alright but I didn’t feel that there was as much of a conclusion as I would have liked.

Thank you NetGalley for the arc in exchange for my review.

Was this review helpful?

Unpopular opinion alert: I don’t understand the hype around this book.

Having nothing to do with the Spanish series of the same name (the title and time travel are literally the only similarities) the genre mash-up of time-travel, historical fiction, and romance is unique to say the least. Set in almost present-day Britian, the Ministry of Time is tasked with exploring how adjusting small events in history impact out timelines. When the Ministry begins to gather ‘Expats’ from various time periods, civil servants are assigned as ‘bridges’ to help them adjust to the new time period by assisting, living, and monitoring them. So, what happens when we take people out of their intended time periods? The Ministry is here to find out.

The majority of the story is more an introspective look into the year a Bridge spends working and living with the Ministry and their Bridge. We also get some narrative flashbacks to our main Expat – Commander Graham Core, who died on Sir John Franklin’s 1845 expedition to the Arctic. We spend the majority of the book getting a look into the lives of the pair, and how they’re forced to confront the past while navigating the choices of their futures.

We do meet some very interesting characters, but their vastly different dialogues and the switching between their names and them being labeled by the year they were taken from, made it hard for me to keep track of them. The story also spends much of the time explaining things more than showing, and I just felt like too much time was spent just floating through the first year.

I absolutely hate reading books that make me feel dumb. I’m not a genius but I do consider myself to be fairly intelligent. This book made me feel so dumb. Not only did I have a hard time keeping track of characters (especially our ‘expats’) but I’m glad I read this in my Kindle app, because I needed to look up like 46 words every page. That’s an exaggeration but you get the point. I thought about DNFing this book multiple times but was told the ending would be worth it.

The majority of the ‘action’ is crammed into the last 20-15% of the story and it gave me a bit of whiplash to suddenly be ‘on the move’ and out of that original lull. I still have almost fairly idea how the time travel system worked and what exactly certain characters at the end’s (no spoilers) end goal. It was too much work to get through this book than I currently wanted. Instead of a quirky romance, that I got from Sharkheart last year, this story is more focused on a slow burn romance.

It’s a slow read, and while this isn’t a speculative fiction piece of work, if you enjoy books in that genre or lengthy character driven stories, you’ll probably find you enjoy this work. However, if you’re a more plot-based reader, like me, or are looking for something fast paced or more actual time travel related this is not your book. Initially 2 stars but rounded up to 3 just because the concept is interesting, and it’s obviously written well. It just wasn’t for me.


The Ministry of Time comes out May 7, 2024! Huge thank you to Avid Reader Press for my advanced copy in exchange for my honest opinion. If you liked this review please let me know either by commenting below or by visiting my instagram @speakingof.books or on Tiktok @speakingof.books

Was this review helpful?

This was a really interesting, quirky book about time travel that takes place in near-future Britain. A civil servant becomes a "bridge" for a Victorian polar explorer who has been rescued from death in the Arctic, and she is tasked with living with him and acclimating him to the modern world. This story is chaotic, with a great cast of characters and some unexpected twists and turns. It manages to be funny and sad and very engaging, and I look forward to future books from Bradley. Thank you to NetGalley and Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster for a digital review copy.

Was this review helpful?

The Ministry of Time sounded like the kind of book I would enjoy as I like the genre of Sci Fi and am fascinated by the concept of time travel. However I couldn’t get into it at all I am sad to say.
I found the characters of both Graham Gore and his ‘bridge’ who helps him navigate his new era as an historic expat to be a little flat. There are pockets of humour in the book and interesting thoughts but a lot of it felt a bit slow and I wasn’t sure sometimes if it was the reader who was being ‘educated’ or the time traveler.
Unfortunately I didn’t finish but I will be buying a copy for the library as I am sure our patrons will enjoy it.

Was this review helpful?

What a unique story! The Ministry of Time is a book about a government agency that brings a handful of people, labeled “Expats” by the Ministry, from the past into the current day. The story is written as a first person narrative and follows a Ministry agent known as a “Bridge”, an agent responsible for the social assimilation of the Expats brought into the modern era. The story heavily focuses on her day-to-day interactions with one of the Expats named Graham Gore, a royal Navy officer and Arctic explorer from the 1800s.


What I enjoyed:
It felt realistic. This book followed the day to day lives of the individuals they brought over and their Bridges, specifically Graham and his Bridge. It went in-depth about how each character would react to different things we find common today.
It has an underlying spy mystery and some weird scientific elements that kept me reading. The Ministry is a sketchy organization that doesn’t reveal its plans, so I just had to find out what was going on.

What I didn’t love
It was so hard to get through the historical journal segments that start each chapter. I am just not a history buff, so every time I reached one I groaned. I thought the book would be more about the adventure of time travel, or have more heavy sci-fi elements.
Though I loved the realistic elements, it was really mundane at times. There are parts of the book where not much is happening. The Ministry has to do a lot of tests on the expats, or a character is just going through a hard time, or they are just sitting around the house. Dredging through those boring parts was difficult. I also thought the romance felt a little rushed. It went from zero to 100.
At times they called characters by the years they are from rather than their name. I felt completely lost during those conversations.

Overall, it is an interesting story and you can tell the author did a tremendous amount of research for this book. Thank you NetGalley and Avid Reader Press for sending this book for review consideration. All opinions are my own.

Was this review helpful?

A page turning read, thriller, historical, science fiction combined, and a book I couldn't put down. I was attracted to this as I have a fondness for Jodi Taylors St. Marys series where historians investigate major historical events in contemporary time . In these books you are unable to remove a contemporary or item from the past to present unless it /they were destined to die/be destroyed. It was good to see this premise was followed by the Ministry of time as the people that were selected would have been set to die at the point of their extraction.
The British government have access to a doorway through which is a machine which enables time travel. To test out this acquisition they snatch historical figures from a range of timelines and world locations to see what the impacts of time travel may be. The expats of time are referred to by the year of their 'rescue' rather than their names - a neat trick of dehumanising them to the level of an experiment.
Our narrator is a mixed race (Cambodian/British), single female and applies for the role of 'Bridge' who act as the guardian and guide to modern society for the chronologically displaced expats. Our bridge assists Arctic explorer Commander Graham Gore, plucked from 1847 and the disaster of the Franklin expedition to the Arctic. Over the year the expats start by meeting each other, then living with their bridge and as they progress with navigation of the modern world are allowed to experience this directly.
I loved the complex relationships of people from varied timelines, with different codes of morality, ethics and behaviour interact. The nascent romance between Gore and his bridge, the joy of discovering new experiences in the modern world, and the emotional turmoil that betrayal, love and fellowship can bring.
I recommend this unique book, pacing is perfect with appropriate context to the past for Commander Gore. My thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for access to this ARC. All views are my own.

Was this review helpful?

I am stunned at how well this book cut across so many genres - sci fi, time travel, romance, historical fiction, thriller, spy novel. It is certainly one of the most unique books that I have read in a long time.

It feels impossible to give a cohesive summary of the plot but essentially time travel exists and "the Ministry" (a kind of big, we-suspect-to-be-bad government agency) save five "expats" from across history and bring them to modern-day London. They live with their "bridges" who are agents meant to manage their transition to the future. The focus of the book is primarily on one bridge, a civil servant, and expat - Commander Graham Gore who was indeed a real person and officer in the British Navy who was lost on an Arctic expedition in the 1800s. Their relationship is built upon fascination, longing, and secrets that unravel spectacularly as the story barrels along.

When I finished this book, I kept turning over the phrase "History is written by the winners." Somehow, this book also tackles structural and systemic challenges in society that permeate every timeline. But there is such a gorgeous emphasis on the individual - that even if someone was not recorded in history or is relegated to a footnote, they were still there and meant something to someone. I truly loved this book and can't wait to see what Kaliane Bradley does next.

Was this review helpful?

Science Fiction Fantasy in which a woman's tasked with trying to help a man who's time-traveled from 1847 adapt to the modern world but soon things get very complicated.

1/5 stars: Bradley's writing and character work are nicely done. But I was really hoping for something a lot more fun and lighthearted and instead got a very serious book touching on some very tough topics; so take care and check the CWs. I really loved Commander Graham Gore's character, so I tried sticking it out but this book just wasn't for me; leading me to DNF it at 54%.

I received this eARC thanks to NetGalley and Avid Reader Press, Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster in exchange for an honest review. Publishing dates are subject to change.

Was this review helpful?

“If you’re a fan of Outlander, spy novels, time travel books, or just really innovative and fun storytelling, The Ministry of Time is definitely for you.” —Town & Country, “45 Must-Read Books of Spring 2024”

YES! I am a fan of all these things and I loved this book. It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty close. Bradley is a fantastic storyteller. The premise is unique and the writing is smart and clever. I had to dust off my dictionary for this one! Bradley tackled some weighty issues with varying degrees of success. It’s a fascinating book that I’d love to discuss with friends. And it’s already been optioned for tv. I can't wait to watch this one!!

Was this review helpful?

Boy does this live up to the hype! I'm so excited for the wider reading world to get their hands on THE MINISTRY OF TIME - what a very special book.

Was this review helpful?

"The Ministry of Time" by Kaliane Bradley is a refreshing take on time travel, blending genres seamlessly. The characters and plot are engaging, with a touch of light romance adding depth. The story is driven by a strong narrative arc, with well-developed characters. Bradley's skillful storytelling keeps readers hooked with its adventurous and humorous tone. Overall, it's a compelling read that offers a unique angle on the time travel genre

Was this review helpful?

Graham Gore, an artic explorer from 1847, is plucked out of history by a mysterious "Ministry of Time" to live in 21st century Britain. The unnamed narrator is assigned as Graham's "bridge" to help him acclimate to the new time. They live together and she reports back data on how he is adjusting to the Ministry. Something fishy is going on, though, and our narrator and Graham get sucked into a thriller-type situation where they have to figure out who the good and bad guys are and how they factor into the intrigue.

Truly genre-bending, this book has science fiction, thriller, mystery, and romance all wrapped into one. This had me literally lol-ing in parts but it still had its serious and action-packed moments. Very original!

Was this review helpful?

Fascinating, spectacular — reflective and cerebral while also full of heart, and ultimately action-packed. This book hooked me in the first quarter, kept me engaged and curious, and went in direction that I totally didn’t expect by the end. I loved how developed and nuanced each character was — side characters included. Each ex-pat and ministry worker felt human and real, with their own idiosyncrasies and strange, unique personalities, all deftly wrought by Bradley. I was blown away by the plot and structure, as well as the line-level writing. This is a remarkable debut, and has something for just about everyone — historical detail, time travel, interesting and layered interpersonal dynamics, a slow burn romance, spies, suspense, twists… The prose and pacing made this one a slow burn all around, but it burns so brightly.

Was this review helpful?