Author: Samantha Shannon
Goodreads Rating: 4.02
Format: ARC from BEA13
It is the year 2059. Several major world cities are under the control of a security force called Scion. Paige Mahoney works in the criminal underworld of Scion London, part of a secret cell known as the Seven Seals. The work she does is unusual: scouting for information by breaking into others’ minds. Paige is a dreamwalker, a rare kind of clairvoyant, and in this world, the voyants commit treason simply by breathing.
But when Paige is captured and arrested, she encounters a power more sinister even than Scion. The voyant prison is a separate city—Oxford, erased from the map two centuries ago and now controlled by a powerful, otherworldly race. These creatures, the Rephaim, value the voyants highly—as soldiers in their army.
Paige is assigned to a Rephaite keeper, Warden, who will be in charge of her care and training. He is her master. Her natural enemy. But if she wants to regain her freedom, Paige will have to learn something of his mind and his own mysterious motives.
The Bone Season introduces a compelling heroine—a young woman learning to harness her powers in a world where everything has been taken from her. It also introduces an extraordinary young writer, with huge ambition and a teeming imagination. Samantha Shannon has created a bold new reality in this riveting debut.
Have you ever picked up a book and felt something like a vibration? Like you could sense it’s greatness before you even read the first page? I’d like to imagine that was how I felt when I finally got my hands on a copy of The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon at BEA. I was certainly bumbling with excitement-or maybe it was a tired tremor from hefting heavy totes filled with books. Whatever the case, I knew I would love Bloomsbury’s new buzz book. I had read an article in Entertainment Weekly a few months ago and was instantly intrigued by the story of the book and it’s author. Samantha Shannon is a young Oxford student and at 21 has not only been published but she was also given a six-figure deal for a seven book series. She’s also being compared to JK Rowling. Since my love for the Harry Potter series is infinite, I knew that this new writer was worth paying attention to. And after devouring the 454 page book, I can say that all the hype and buzz is definitely right.
In the first few pages of the novel, readers are introduced to Scion London the product of an alternate history involving England’s bloody past. Scion London has been compiled in order to fight off Clairvoyance-an unnatural disease that a good part of the population has had inflicted upon them. Clairvoyants are hunted in this bleak future-the year is 2054-and often executed or taken to the ominous Tower. At the heart of Scion London is Paige Mahoney, a clairvoyant who works in an undercover gang called the Seven Seals. She has the very unique ability to dreamwalk, which basically means she can invade other people’s minds. Paige is a tough character-almost too tough. It took me more than a quarter of the book to really get into her headspace and care for her. She certainly is compelling. Even if the novel is written in first person, she keeps herself guarded with defenses that she has learned to cultivate due to her ability. Her friends and co-workers-the other Seals-are colorful and just as mysterious. I fell in love with Nick Nygård rather quickly, as I’m sure many will. We don’t get too much of them, only memories and brief thoughts because the bulk of Paige’s story takes place in Sheol 1. I can’t give away much about Sheol except that it is Scion’s penal colony for Clairvoyants and is held in the ruins of Oxford. The jailers of this city are called Rephaim, creatures that seek to enslave the clairvoyants and feast on their power. Paige is taken to the colony after an accident on an underground and immediately attracts the attention of the Blood-Sovereign and her consort-Warden- who elects to become her keeper-the one who trains and supervises the clairvoyants in their care.
As you can tell from the summary and the short snippet, the world building is quite fantastic. If anything, we get it a little too fast. One can only imagine that Ms. Shannon has so much to say about this world-a horrible future with a literal witch-hunt. I will say that the first 150 pages or so were a bit hard to get through. The influx of information was so rich that I felt it overshadowed Paige’s story. But as I said, there is so much about this world that needed to be told to us. We are thrust into this underground world, with its nooks and crannies of 1-4 Cohort and it’s language. Floxy, Voyants, Archon, Aether, Amaurosis are all a part of the world Paige lives in and Thank God for the glossary in the back. However, once you get over that, the rest of the novel is smooth sailing and as I said earlier, I devoured it.
Ms. Shannon hits her mark with the first big confrontation in the novel-when Paige is sent on assignment. It is perfect-the set-up, the tension, the pacing. I was at a deli downtown in Manhattan on a lunch break, hunched over at a small table, trying to read as fast as possible. The relationships she has set up and how they unravel are also perfect. There are a few characters that really jump off the page. I formed an attachment to a few characters very early on in the book. And once the action starts, it keeps moving. It’s like watching an episode of Buffy, where there are brilliantly placed twists and turns and major character development in the span of a few scenes. Paige grew for me, from the underground criminal to a determined leader. I want to spend six other books with her and the Seven Seals. Warden, the Rephaim creature I mentioned before, is also a figure that Ms. Shannon must be commended for. As a secondary character, he shines. He’s an enigma wrapped in ectoplasm and 200 years of burdened secrets. But I don’t want to tell you too much. All I can say is that he is a perfect character to add to the already stunning story.
There’s so much I could say about this book. I could go on for pages about the worldbuilding. I’d also like to gush about Warden, Nick and the other supporting characters that could easily have their own spin-off series. But I won’t. Because this book is too good to spoil for anyone and I urge you to just buy it as soon as it comes out. You won’t be sorry.
The Courts Decision: