Review: The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon


Title: The Bone Season

Author: Samantha Shannon

Published: Bloomsbury August 2013

Status: Read from August 17 to 19, 2013 — I own a copy {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

I wouldn’t advise beginning The Bone Season with the intention of reading just a few chapters before bedtime or you may find yourself still turning the pages at dawn as I did. With all the hype surrounding this novel written by twenty one year old debut author, Samantha Shannon I have to admit I was a little wary going in but The Bone Season, though not perfect, is an impressive and engrossing fantasy novel.

Set in future London following a timeline that splits from ours in the early 1900’s, The Bone Season introduces nineteen year old Paige Mahoney. Paige is a dreamwalker, fighting to survive in a world where possessing any clairvoyant ability is considered high treason. Forced underground, London’s clairvoyant’s have formed criminal enclaves and Paige has given her allegiance to Jaxon Hall, who collects those ‘voyants’ with the rarest and most useful talents.
During a rare journey to visit her father in London’s suburbs, the train Paige is traveling on is boarded by Scion Underguards searching for voyants and Paige is forced to flee but quickly caught, drugged and taken to the Tower. Paige expects to be executed, for no one that has been taken by the Scion has ever returned but is horrified to learn that captured voyants are handed over to a enigmatic otherworldly race that call themselves the Rephaite, to serve them as slaves or food or soldiers. Paige’s unique ability results in her being assigned to the Blood-Consort, Arcturus Warden, whom she is expected to obey unquestioningly. Paige though is not the type to meekly accept the strictures of her new life in Oxford, she wants to go home and she is determined to take as many other voyants as she can with her. TheBoneSeason_ReadingRoom_300x250

The plot of The Bone Season is actually quite straightforward and though there aren’t a lot of surprises, I still found it compelling. There is plenty of tension and a good mix of action and intrigue with just a touch of romance (thankfully left nearly to the end of the novel).

I liked Paige as the heroine – she is smart, resourceful, feisty and both her talent and her personality is interesting. Despite the inherent contradiction she has a core of incorruptible humanity, she cares even when it is in her best interest not to.
We learn only a little about her employer, Jax, and her colleagues given that she spends most of the book separated from them, but I am looking forward to getting to know more about them. Paige’s allies and enemies in Sheol I are reasonably well drawn but obviously temporary.
Warden is necessarily enigmatic, his allegiances unclear and his motives suspect. The issue of trust between Paige and Warden is a crucial element of the story and I think Shannon develops this very well.

The world building of The Bone Season is creative and interesting, though at times a little dense. I found it took a little while to get it all straight but I was intrigued by the variety of clairvoyant talents introduced ranging from Cartomancers to Binders and the ways in which the voyants are linked to the aether – the plane of existence where spirits dwell. The introduction of the enigmatic Rephaite, hidden in Oxford, adds another layer of interest especially as exactly what they are is shrouded in secrecy.

Despite it’s length, The Bone Season is well paced without much of the the forced compression most stories are hostage to. I think the writing is impressive, especially given Shannon’s age and experience. She is a natural storyteller and though a little more polish wouldn’t hurt, the flaws in the narrative are minor. I would think it would be harder for Americans than readers from the Commonwealth to understand some of the slang used in The Bone Season, though a glossary is available to be made use of.

The Bone Season is easily one of the most enjoyable paranormal/distopyian novels I have read, though admittedly I have read few – distopyia is not usually my thing. I’m excited about the development of the series and hope that Samantha Shannon can live up to its potential. I will definitely be picking up the next book.

Available to Purchase From

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7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. curlygeek04
    Aug 20, 2013 @ 22:37:16

    I felt much the same way, I really enjoyed this one even though, as you say, the story is pretty straightforward. I liked your point about the trust issues being one of the more interesting parts of the story.



  2. Rita_h (My Home of Books)
    Aug 21, 2013 @ 03:21:37

    Thanks for the great review! I just watched a tv news segment highlighting Samantha Shannon and raving that this is for lovers of The Hunger Games. I cannot wait to read it, but think the comparison is not doing it a favor, as this story needs to stand on its own merit. I’ve only read one other review of this and she also enjoyed it. On top of my wishlist!



    • shelleyrae @ Book'd Out
      Aug 21, 2013 @ 13:26:00

      Hmm I’m not too sure about that comparison, but publicists can’t help themselves hyping one book with another sometimes. I think it stands well on its own.



  3. Belle
    Aug 21, 2013 @ 16:34:33

    I’m so glad this is living up to the hype.



  4. Belle Read
    Aug 26, 2013 @ 14:41:41

    Thank you for your review. I could use a good page turner.



  5. Teddyree
    Aug 26, 2013 @ 16:30:27

    So glad you enjoyed it too Shelleyrae, I read a lot of Dystopia and this was a favourite. Hoping the next installments live up to the standard set, I now have high expectations 🙂



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