Review

The Bone Season

by Samantha Shannon

My reading has been focused on fantasy the last few months. I tend to waver back and forth between fantasy and historical fiction, so it’s not unusual for me to go overboard on one or the other at any given time. I’ve been fortunate to discover several new authors this year thanks to this reading fixation, and I’m happy to add Samantha Shannon to my list. THE BONE SEASON is a new urban fantasy series, and I’m now patiently waiting for the next book.

Paige Mahoney is a 19-year-old criminal, but not the typical criminal you might think of --- she’s part of an underground syndicate of clairvoyants that trades in information. In 2059, in Scion London, clairvoyance is a crime, and those who exhibit these special skills either become part of the crime-ridden underworld or are locked up for what is deemed the good of society. Essentially, under the thinly veiled guise of protecting others, Paige breaks into people’s minds to mine information for her underworld boss, Jaxon Hall. When she’s captured by a group called the Rephaim, she realizes that the dangerous world in which she lives and willingly participates is nothing compared to living in Oxford.

"As a fantasy enthusiast, I think the world-building is spot on. Overlaying London with a gritty urban fantasy landscape makes for a great setting."

Oxford, which supposedly disappeared over 200 years ago and was wiped off all maps as if it never existed, is now the home and operating ground of the Rephaim, an invasive alien species that feeds on the clairvoyant skills of humans. Paige is now the captive of Warden, a high-ranking Rephaim in Oxford, and is to be trained to use her clairvoyant skills to protect the Rephaim from another alien race that is intent on attack. Paige has a very valuable, and somewhat mythical, clairvoyant skill --- she’s what is referred to as a dreamwalker --- and another high-ranking Rephaim wants Paige’s skill for her own.

Knowing that she needs to trust Warden, but unable to allow herself this necessary feeling, she ends up in trouble and in need of help from the one person she wants to hate more than anyone in the world.

I’ve seen THE BONE SEASON compared to The Hunger Games, and I too can see the likeness. There isn’t much similarity in terms of the plot, but the government-heavy, post-apocalyptic, dystopian setting does bring to mind Panem traits, with an English twist, of course. Scion London is a sad, dark place full of sinister people, but the underworld is fascinating. It’s an interesting combination of aliens, clairvoyants, and a world living in terror but a world not all that different that you can’t relate as a reader. As a fantasy enthusiast, I think the world-building is spot on. Overlaying London with a gritty urban fantasy landscape makes for a great setting. Shannon takes age-old talents, tosses palm readers with aliens, and pours out a whole new world.

I picked up THE BONE SEASON on vacation and couldn’t put it down until I finished. Shannon is a first-time author, a 21-year-old college graduate, in fact, and the novel feels complete, until you get to the ending and find out it’s the first of a planned seven-book series. Don’t let that worry you because you’re going to want more of Paige Mahoney, Jaxon Hall and Warden once the last page is turned. Aliens and clairvoyants in a battle to the bitter end? Yes, bring it on! Needless to say, I’m in for the seven-book duration.

Reviewed by Amy Gwiazdowski on August 23, 2013

The Bone Season
by Samantha Shannon