The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon
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.
The Bone Season introduces a compelling heroine and 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.
First things first, this is an adult fiction novel, not YA, so keep that in mind. The characters are adults for the most part and the writing style is not as flippant. The beginning of this novel was extremely confusing to me due to an entirely unique mythology and a new set of vocabulary to go along with it. This is not a quick read where you can skim a little and still get the gist. I am in no way saying this is a bad thing, quite the opposite in fact. I absolutely love getting lost in new worlds and this novel took a new take on an old topic: clairvoyance. The author provides a chart explaining the different types of clairvoyants in her new world, as well as a map of her alternate reality London. I would constantly flip back and forth to these as a reference. She also has a glossary at the back of the book, my only snipe being I wasnt aware of it until I had finished the book. That would have made things easier!
I really enjoyed discovering the world of Scion and clairvoyants, however there were several issues I had with this novel. Paige is a decent protagonist but I couldn’t find myself connecting to her. The supporting characters in Seven Dials irritated me but that was nothing compared to the Rephaite Warden. The Rephaim are otherworldly creatures with no respect for human life except to be used as soldiers or their own life sustenance. Sure, there are female Rephaim and their leader is a woman. Sure, there are female Rephaim masters with voyant slaves that are treated horribly. But I couldn’t get over the dynamic between Warden and Paige as abusive and misogynistic. I understand that in this society Warden is the master and she is his slave. However, Warden treats her better than other slaves are treated allowing her to speak derisively towards him, not punishing her for missing curfew, and intervening when other Rephaim seek to do her harm. But Paige is still a prisoner, he still exerts his control over her and the way Warden acts suggests that Paige should be grateful for his “little mercies” even as she is being held against her will and forced to use her gifts for the Rephaim’s purposes. He is still cold and calculating. Towards the end of the novel it becomes apparent that Warden has ulterior motives for helping her while still treating her as his slave but at this point in the story it is not enough to redeem him. Paige, wary, becomes more trusting of him and it is reminiscent of Stockholm Syndrome. While not quite developed, there are romantic undertones set up that I hope are not explored in following books.
- Creative new mythology in an alternate timeline of London where clairvoyants are real
- Maps! Charts! Glossary of created and reinterpreted terms! I love a novel that is so committed to their world to flesh it out and provide these aids to readers
- Paranormal/Dystopian/Spooky Ghost Vibe
The Not So Good
- Warden’s rationalizations for abusive and cold treatment while suggesting any kindness should be extremely appreciated
- While this novel establishes that the Rephaim view the clairvoyants and other humans as less than, the relationships reminded me too much of abusers of women and their controlling and isolating behavior
I still enjoyed this novel and am interested enough to start reading the next in the series The Mime Order. The problems I had with this novel may not affect other readers as much as me, but just go into the novel prepared! Still an entertaining new world where there is a lot of death and no one is safe. Other reviews compare this to Harry Potter but I find that absurd. Much more likely to appeal to readers of the Hunger Games.