Title: The Bone Season (The Bone Season #1)
Author: Samantha Shannon
Genre: Fantasy, Dystopia, Science Fiction
Publication Date: August 2013
Rating: 3.5 stars
Synopsis (from goodreads):
The year is 2059. Nineteen-year-old Paige Mahoney is working in the criminal underworld of Scion London, based at Seven Dials, employed by a man named Jaxon Hall. Her job: to scout for information by breaking into people’s minds. For Paige is a dreamwalker, a clairvoyant and, in the world of Scion, she commits treason simply by breathing.
It is raining the day her life changes for ever. Attacked, drugged and kidnapped, Paige is transported to Oxford – a city kept secret for two hundred years, controlled by a powerful, otherworldly race. Paige is assigned to Warden, a Rephaite with mysterious motives. He is her master. Her trainer. Her natural enemy. But if Paige wants to regain her freedom she must allow herself to be nurtured in this prison where she is meant to die.
I’m always nervous to read books that have a lot of hype surrounding them. I don’t want to feel let down and so it was with some trepidation that I started to read The Bone Season. The first in a seven part series, this debut novel by twenty-one-year-old Samantha Shannon is an adventure into a world similar but so very different from our own. The story begins in 2059, London with Paige Mahoney, a nineteen-year-old clairvoyant dream walker. Clairvoyants (or ‘voyants’ as they are also known as) are forced into the criminal underground or risk being caught and locked up by the Scion – the current ruling body of the continent.
Whilst she may be on the other side of the law, Paige has a nice set up. Working for Jaxon (Jax) Hall and breaking into other people’s minds from a distance for their secrets and information, Paige is safe from the reach of the Scion. That is until an incident causes everything to change. Paige gets captured and taken to the Tower. And things are just getting started.
There’s so much that goes on in this novel. The blurb doesn’t even begin to touch on Paige’s troubles. There’s an alien race known as the Rephaite who ‘feed’ on the voyants and need them to keep alive. Their way of life and their parasitical nature is simultaneously obscene and compelling. I loved how this book began. Paige is one of the good guys – despite working for an underworld lord like Jax and some of the things she has to do to keep alive throughout the novel. She’s intelligent and resourceful and well-intentioned. But she’s not a pushover and she does have her flaws. There were times when I felt like some of the circumstances around Paige were a little too fortuitous and convenient (like the length of stay in the Tower compared to others) but I understand that these things were essential for the overall big picture.
The other characters are just as interesting and three-dimensional as Paige. Jax – who isn’t seen very much in this first book but has so much potential – fascinated me. And then there’s Warden. He’s mysterious and it’s unclear as to what his endgame is just yet but you just know that it’s going to be worthwhile continuing reading to find out. There are a whole cast of other characters I could go on forever about. What I like most about them is that every character – human or Rephaite – has their own agenda. Be it world domination or just being alive to see the sunset tomorrow – Shannon has done an amazing job of bringing them all together in a way that feels right for each individual character.
As should be expected in the first novel of a long series is some world building – and there is a fair amount of it in The Bone Season. Whilst essential to help build the plot and understand the race who inhabit the universe that’s been created, there were times when I did start to feel a little overwhelmed with just how much was going on. That said – the Seven Orders of Clairvoyance, the mysterious Rephaite colony in Oxford and criminal syndicate in which Paige worked – are all beautifully created with a lot of depth and detail.
This is a long novel and I was impressed with the level of research that you could tell went into the story. I’ve heard people call this book a young adult novel but that’s not how I’d describe it. I think it’s an adult book which many teenagers would enjoy. It gets quite dark sometimes with Shannon treating the characters she created quite badly at times but there is still an element of hope. I can’t wait for the second book which Shannon is currently writing to be released and have high hopes of what is to come next in this series!
Purchase the novel from:
Last night I had the pleasure of being apart of a panel that The Reading Room put together in order to conduct an online interview with Samantha Shannon. She was absolutely lovely, taking the time to answer all of our questions. I’ve posted the video below in case you want to check it out!