This is a semi-spoiler free review. I’m not giving away any big details but I do divulge information and discuss relationships that are formed well after the first few chapters.
“This was what my spirit longed to do, to wander in strange lands. It couldn’t stand being trapped in one body all the time. It had wanderlust.”
I first read The Bone Season when it was released in 2013 and have read it a few times since so I wanted to finally write a review of this glorious first novel by Samantha Shannon.
Whenever someone asks me for a book recommendation, without skipping a beat I positively shout out, “The Bone Season!” It is so fantastically written with a gripping plot and characters so intensely realized you start to wonder if they are real people. This book didn’t leave my hand for the whole two days I devoured it. Can you picture me holding it, eyes glued to the pages while I poured my morning coffee, fed my cat, drove to work? Okay I’m totally joking about that last part, please don’t read and drive! But my point being that I lived some kind of half life while reading it. I lost myself in the futuristic streets of Scion, the antiquated and dimly lit halls of Magdalen tower in Oxford.
The concept of The Bone Season is so intriguing and I can’t wait to see how it plays out over the projected seven novels in the series. In an alternate future, London, England has been conquered by Scion, a government which has deemed clairvoyance to be the biggest threat to humankind and therefore illegal. Simply by existing, clairvoyants, or voyants, are at the risk of arrest for treason. A Dickensesque syndicate of voyants has retreated to the shadows and the gutters, forging a meager living in the streets and black market. Paige Mahoney is a dreamwalker, a rare type of voyant, and also the right hand to Jaxon Hall, mime-lord to their section of the syndicate.
Paige is suddenly kidnapped and drugged, and wakes up in the lost city of Oxford, kept a secret by the Scion government. The goings on in Oxford prove to be mysterious and sinister when Paige discovers that it is a penal colony where harvested voyants are sent to serve a life long sentance for their crimes by becoming slaves to other worldly creatures, the Rephaim. Their main purpose is to assist the Rephaim in keeping terrifying, flesh-eating creatures called the Emim from crossing into earth from the Netherworld.
The Rephaim believe themselves to be vastly superior to humans and therefore have no qualms about taking on the brutal role of slave master – dealing out verbal and physical violence to their human slaves. Yet one Rephaite, Arcturus, called by his title of Warden, has taken an interest in Paige’s gift and has chosen her to be his sole human ward. He offers a level of protection when Paige’s peers are beat and starving, he trains with her and helps her uncover new abilities with her clairvoyant gift. Cautiously they begin to form an understanding that hints at the possibility of great trust.
I see a lot of complaints about info dumping and a slow moving plot but I really want to talk about how I truly believe this is one of the things that makes this book so deliciously satisfying. The details that Shannon has poured into this novel creates such a rich and whimsical world. The world building and supernatural culture is so fully realized, I find myself falling so deep into this story that I have to give my head a shake to come back to real life.
And the characters. They are quirky and flawed and make shitty choices and struggle to trust each other and are just absolutely wonderful. I have fallen in love with fiery Paige with her sharp and sarcastic Irish tongue. Nick, with his sweetness and loyalty, and that feeling I get that everything is going to be okay when he’s around. Jaxon, I just love to hate. He is unapologetically arrogant and hilariously sophisticated, and so damn interesting. And I can’t forget Warden – quietly powerful and the potential for a very great ally. I hope to find out much more about his character and what goes on under his unruffled exterior.
The romance here is a very small sub-plot but no less grand in it’s sweetness. It’s a slow build. Frustratingly slow sometimes, because we know way before the characters do that it’s inevitable. But it plays out so naturally and beautifully and the tiny moments that we are given are so moving. In all honesty, they have become one of my favourite fictional pairs ever.
Have you started this series yet? What are your thoughts so far?
My Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Title: The Bone Season
Author: Samantha Shannon
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Young Adult, New Adult