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.
This was a good book, there’s no doubt, but I think comparisons to JK Rowling are unfair – invariably, everyone will fall short when it comes to the Queen of Magical Literature. Quite frankly, apart from the British-ness and the proposal for 7 books, I don’t even see the similarities at all.
The Bone Season is set in a futuristic London, where those with clairvoyant abilities are despised and ostracised by the general population, and either end up on the wrong end of a noose, locked away in prisons or working for the criminal underworld. The overbearing corporation-type government regulates aspects of everyday life, all for the good of the people – a standard dystopian concept, it appears.
I know some people complained about info-dumping in the beginning – and whilst it is true that there is a lot of information given to the reader, the worldbuilding is so well done that it didn’t bother me. Indeed, this is one of the strong points of the book – the author really has thought out her world – the location, the different types of clairvoyants, etc.
Of course, all is not what it seems, and things very quickly take a turn for the worse. Without wanting to give away a major plot point, you will end up not knowing which side to root for – both are equally despicable.
Another aspect of the book I admired was that our protagonist, Paige, was not infallible. She got the shite kicked out of her on a regular basis, and suffered for it. Of course, I’m not celebrating the fact that she took some physical abuse – its just that many authors seem to quickly dismiss any physical pain after a major knock, and on the next page the narrators bounce back, as good as new.
There were multiple options for love interests, and I thought I spied a love triangle, but thankfully the author didn’t go there. The slow-blooming romance is done well, I think – a bit Stockholm Syndrome-ish, but the protagonist acknowledges this.
I liked the fact that Paige wasn’t perfect. She kills people. Her actions of rebellion cause others to get hurt. She tries to escape repeatedly, even if her captor is a hottie. (Which for some authors I’ve read, would be an excuse to stay and have lots of babies because oooh look how his hair shines in the sun!)
All in all, I think the Bone Season has a lot of potential. The pace could have been improved somewhat, and I wish I could have gotten greater insight into some of the more mysterious supporting characters. What are their histories? Their motivations? Their loyalties?
Samantha Shannon has created an intriguing world, and is certainly adept at portraying the utter despair of her characters and the cruelty that they experience. Do give this one a go.