Tuesday, May 7, 2024

Review: The Ministry of Time by Kaliane Bradley

The Ministry of Time by Kaliane Bradley
Avid Reader Press/Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: May 7th, 2024
Hardcover. 352 pages.

About The Ministry of Time:

"In the near future, a civil servant is offered the salary of her dreams and is, shortly afterward, told what project she’ll be working on. A recently established government ministry is gathering “expats” from across history to establish whether time travel is feasible—for the body, but also for the fabric of space-time.

She is tasked with working as a “bridge”: living with, assisting, and monitoring the expat known as “1847” or Commander Graham Gore. As far as history is concerned, Commander Gore died on Sir John Franklin’s doomed 1845 expedition to the Arctic, so he’s a little disoriented to be living with an unmarried woman who regularly shows her calves, surrounded by outlandish concepts such as “washing machine,” “Spotify,” and “the collapse of the British Empire.” But he adjusts quickly; he is, after all, an explorer by trade. Soon, what the bridge initially thought would be, at best, a seriously uncomfortable housemate dynamic, evolves into something much more. Over the course of an unprecedented year, Gore and the bridge fall haphazardly, fervently in love, with consequences they never could have imagined.

Supported by a chaotic and charming cast of characters—including a 17th-century cinephile who can’t get enough of Tinder, a painfully shy World War I captain, and a former spy with an ever-changing series of cosmetic surgery alterations and a belligerent attitude to HR—the bridge will be forced to confront the past that shaped her choices, and the choices that will shape the future."

The Ministry of Time is a charming, insightful, and oftentimes bittersweet story that perfectly mixes time travel, a bit of spy thriller (maybe not in an overly action-packed way, however), humor, and even some romance into a story that provides endless entertainment and thoughtful discussion.

I was worried that The Ministry of Time wouldn't live up to the hype that the ARC touts on the back cover ("rights sold in seventeen languages... TV adaptation in the pipeline after a twenty-one-way auction," etc.), but it was actually quite wonderful. I'm also not usually much of a time travel person, but I really did love my time with this book and its characters.

The Ministry of Time is set in the near future when our nameless protagonist is chosen to be a part of a government team working on something incredibly sensitive and secret:; essentially, a time travel program. The ministry has gone back to various moments in history to secure different people and bring them back to the present day to then use them as an experiment to see how these “expats” adjust to the modern day–what metal health issues might they run into? Do their bodies adjust physically or will they begin to deteriorate? What issues do they run into while adapting to modern day life? These are all questions that the ministry carefully analyzes and are what our protagonist is meant to monitor with her own “expat,” Commander Graham Gore, a (now) survivor of the fateful 1845 Franklin Expedition.

What grabbed me the most in this novel was the vibrant and witty narration from our protagonist. She is incredibly sharp, thoughtful, and unabashedly herself in relaying her experiences throughout this experiment. I particularly loved how authentic she felt in her reactions to things that happen, as well as how she interacts with the many varied people that cross her path. Commander Gore is also an absolute delight and I loved his incredibly dry humor that always seemed to show up when you least expected it, but always had the biggest punch. I had so much fun watching Commander Gore adapt to the new world around him and learn  about all the new technologies and newfound ways of life that exist. However, there are some tough moments as Gore grieves the loss of his crew from the expedition, as well as the loss of his own life that is now almost forever lost to him, and I think Bradley handled this topic among the expats incredibly well. 

I really appreciated Bradley managed to effortlessly blend humor (humor that at times actually made me laugh out loud) with deeper contemplations of life and existence, as well as a myriad of other relevant topics, such as racial relation throughout the history and the present and even the differences in economic struggles over time as well. I loved that there was such a blend of genres and that this book doesn’t really fit neatly into any one area.  The Ministry of Time also does an excellent job of exploring the very wide spectrum of human experiences through its characters that come from all different times of human history. It was fascinating to see what common human struggles seem to transcend time, as well as see how people from different times may have approached certain modern day (or future-based) issues that may plague us today. 

There are some moments in this book where the time travel aspects start to feel a little cliche’d, such as how time travel can be used to manipulate outcomes and attempts to change the past, but these are all incorporated in ways that still felt interesting and compelling to the story. There were a few times when things started to feel slightly too convoluted for the story and the action almost felt a bit silly, but overall I think everything felt like it worked smoothly and made sense.

Overall, I've given The Ministry of Time 4.75 stars! I absolutely adored this book and will be sure to keep my eye out for more from Kaliane Bradley in the future. This was such an entertaining read that even if you’re not a fan of time travel, I’d encourage you to give this one a shot.

*I received a copy of  The Ministry of Time in exchange for an honest review. This has no effect on my rating.*

Buy the book: Amazon | Bookshop.org


  1. I love time travel stories and am always looking for a fresh take on it - definitely adding this one to my TBR! Great review!

  2. I may need to buy a copy of this! I've read a few other glowing reviews and now I need it๐Ÿ˜