Thursday, 27 June 2013

The Bone Season - Samantha Shannon


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.

Are you ready for the next big series? Because this is going to be it. The first in a new seven book series by a young British author discovered in a creative writing class at Oxford, The Bone Season is very much the new, hot thing. Not to mention the movie rights have already been picked up.

I had no idea what The Bone Season was when I picked up an ARC at BEA but the cover intrigued me and I had kept hearing more and more about how big it was going to be. Intrigued, I started it pretty quickly and found myself drawn in, spending hours on the couch because I simply couldn't put it down.

The best thing about The Bone Season is the sheer power of imagination it took to write it. Even more so than in most of the other dystopian books that have come out in the past five years or so, Shannon has created a completely immersive world, the kind that shows instead of tells and gives you feelings more than words. She also has created an entire new vernacular, based mostly upon Victorian slang, to the point where, for a good while, you're not entirely sure what any of the characters are talking about. There's a glossary in the back for some of it but mostly you pick it up as you read. It's a bit hard to push through at first but once you begin picking it up, it stays with you.

Shannon has created an entire world of psychics which is also beyond brilliant. Although it takes a bit to figure out who's who, it's actually quite interesting to see what each different kind of voyant can do and how that affects them and the world. The idea of auras, of dream walking, of soothsaying is something that everyone is familiar with at a very basic level but this new hierarchy, complete with a rewritten history of Victorian England and onward, shows not only a interesting new world but the talent that Shannon possesses. Not only am I excited for more in this series but I'm excited for more by Shannon in general.

Paige, our heroine, is pretty refreshing mainly because she's tough as nails. One of my favorite things about her is that, even as she warms up to people, she stays true to herself. For example, even when she starts to think that Warden, her "master," might be not all that bad, she still tries to escape whenever an opportunity arises. Because, hey, of course you would. There's none of that hemming and hawing that other heroines go through. Paige puts herself first and that's what she needs to do.

Other characters are also great. Warden is perhaps a bit dry but I do admire how much he puts up with. Paige's gang back home are some very interesting side characters, from her fairly creepy boss to her friend from childhood, each of them memorable in a way that some books with multiple characters can't pull off. 

I just have to mention again how amazing Shannon's new history is. I'm always impressed by people who write alternate histories and this one works particularly well. The major changes from our world start in Victorian England, giving the present (which is our future) an odd Victorian feel to it. I also loved the references to past Irish riots (which are called the Molly Riots causing me to giggle every time) which feel completely in line with the timeline she's established.  

This book is the first in a series and I will admit that I'm not entirely sure how it's going to stretch through seven novels. It seems like a three or four book story at most. But I like Shannon and if she can pull something out in her second novel that shows me how this is going to continue forward, I'm all for it. I have a feeling she's going to do it. Watch out for this book because pretty soon, it's going to be everywhere.


The Bone Season comes out August 20th from Bloomsbury.

1 comment:

  1. The Bone Season is a highly complex novel with an incommensurable set of characters and an intense plot line. While the first quarter can be fairly daunting- with ranges of bumps such as platitudinously boring snippets and info dumping- The Bone Season has a lot to give and promise for future instalments.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.

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