Book Review: The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon


Title: The Bone Season
Series: The Bone Season #1
Author: Samantha Shannon
Author Info: Website | TwitterGoodreads
Age Group:
Young Adult
Genre Type:
Fantasy, Dystopia, Science Fiction
Publication Date:
August 20, 2013
Pages: 480 pages   
Source: Publisher/NetGalley
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing

It is the year 2059. Several major world cities are under the control of a security force called Scion. Paige Mahoney works in the criminal underworld of Scion London, part of a secret cell known as the Seven Seals. The work she does is unusual: scouting for information by breaking into others’ minds. Paige is a dreamwalker, a rare kind of clairvoyant, and in this world, the voyants commit treason simply by breathing.

But when Paige is captured and arrested, she encounters a power more sinister even than Scion. The voyant prison is a separate city—Oxford, erased from the map two centuries ago and now controlled by a powerful, otherworldly race. These creatures, the Rephaim, value the voyants highly—as soldiers in their army.

Paige is assigned to a Rephaite keeper, Warden, who will be in charge of her care and training. He is her master. Her natural enemy. But if she wants to regain her freedom, Paige will have to learn something of his mind and his own mysterious motives.

The Bone Season introduces a compelling heroine—a young woman learning to harness her powers in a world where everything has been taken from her. It 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. Summary and image form Goodreads.

THE BONE SEASON takes place in an alternate London in the year 2059, and introduces us to a rich and complex world, created from a fantastic fusion of Dystopian and Fantasy. It features the unique and compelling new heroine Paige Mahoney, known as a Dreamwalker, who will have Science Fiction and Fantasy fans thrilled with this new female lead character. Samantha Shannon does not hold back when it comes to world-building, and readers who like their Science Fiction and Fantasy complex and full of substance should be pleased with this bold new debut by Samantha Shannon

SETTING: There are two unique and distinctly different place settings that are in THE BONE SEASON: Scion London and the Sheol I, both will transports you to Samantha Shannon's imaginary world that is controlled and fought over by the Scion, the Syndicate and the Rephaites. The first quarter of the book is set in the Scion Citadel of London, and feels much like a Dystopian, but with a unique twist. Samantha Shannon has created an alternate London, one that is similar in style as the criminal underground movement that ran through London in the early 19th century. This is one the hardest parts of story to wade through due to it vast amount of terminology and information, but also one of the most fascinating. Samantha Shannon did a fabulous job transporting the reader to an alternate London where she created a secret world of organized crime, and based it upon the trade and illegal use of Clairvoyance in THE BONE SEASON. A world that is ruled by gangs, bosses, and crime in the form of the Syndicate, Mime-lords, and Mime-crime. A world that Paige Mahoney calls her home.

The second setting and the majority of the story takes place in Sheol I, which just happens to inhabit the “lost city of Oxford”, and remains as if it were trapped in a time bubble from the 19th century, complete with cobbled streets lined with gas lamps and ancient stone buildings forgotten from time. Once Paige is captured and arrested, the story begins to quickly gain pace, and is much easier to follow. Paige has just stepped off the yellow brick road and entered into mysterious realm ruled by an otherworldly-clairvoyant race know as the Rephaim, who come from an not outer space, but higher dimension called Netherworld. How the Rephaim are able to enter our Earthly realm, what is the meaning behind The Bone Season, and why they capture and need other clairvoyants is the cornerstone of this book, and it appears Samantha Shannon seems to have much more in store for us with a seven book contract, and that this is only the beginning of her storytelling capability.

SUMMARY: Paige Mahoney lives in Scion London and works in the criminal underworld as a Dreamwalker, a rare kind of clairvoyant. In Paige’s world, all forms of clairvoyance have been outlawed, and are punished by death. As part of the Seven Seals, a secret underground cell, her job is to gather information from others. Similar to hacker, only she uses her ability as an clairvoyant, Paige sifts information by breaking (illegally) into others minds. When Paige is captured and arrested, she is taken to a mysterious voyant prison known as the Tower, to await her new fate. Here she meets other clairvoyants who have also been captured and are all part of a strange recruitment known as “The Bone Season.” Held prisoner in the “lost city of Oxford” which is now controlled by a strange and powerful, otherworldly race of creatures known as the Rephaite, whose powers of clairvoyance are beyond imaging. Paige has just been conscripted into their army.

Assigned her new Rephaite “master” Warden, who is in charge of her care and training, Paige must determine who she can trust and who the real enemies are. As Paige is taught by Warden how to harness her powers, it become increasingly hard to define the line of enemy and something more between them. Can Paige trust the Warden, and what are his mysterious motives that drive him to protect and train Paige? What are the mysterious Emim, and why does the leader of the Rephaites seem to be so interested in Paige’s power as a Dreamwalker?

CHARACTERS: Paige Mahoney is not only a very likeable protagonist, she is extremely interesting with her unique abilities as a Dreamwalker. As the heroine, she was easy to admire for her strength and intelligence, while retaining her ability to remain compassionate, even when faced with helping the enemy. What made Paige’s character so realistic was the fact that it did not matter how great, nor unique her abilities were, she still remained vulnerable and at times insecure-needing acceptance and love as a normal human being.

Arcturus Mesarthim, blood consort to Nashira Sargas and Warden of Mesarthim, is one of those fascinating characters that scare you and thrill you at the same time. As Warden and assigned master to Paige, it is not clear just how much he can be trusted, and what his secretive motives are when it comes to training Paige to harness her powers. To Paige, he is dark, handsome and terribly compelling; he is her Rephaite keeper and her natural enemy.

He was the single most Beautiful and terrible thing I’d ever laid eyes on.

His voice was dark and thick as blackstrap. “I lay claim to you.”
So this man was to be my master. I looked right into his eyes, even though I shouldn’t. I wanted to know the face of my enemy. He looked back at me.

Samantha Shannon has a large cast of secondary characters that play an important part in Paige Mahoney life, and the storyline of THE BONE SEASON. There's Jaxon Hall, Paige's boss, a mime-lord responsible for sector I-4 in Scion, and part of the Seven Seals. Dr. Nicklas Nygard who plays and important part in Paige's early years as a voyant, and who introduces her to Jaxon Hall.  Nashira Sargas the blood-sovereign of the Race of Rephaim. These are just a few of the main characters that round out this story, but I suspect there are many more that will be introduced in Samantha Shannon's followup books.


THE ROMANCE: There is a slow-building romance, based on trust and friendship first in THE BONE SEASON. It is one that reminds me of star crossed lovers, an attraction that should never be, but is there nonetheless. and I’m really curious where it may go in the following books.

THE SWOON: First Kiss: His lips moved to my jaw. I guided his hand to my waist. The lure of his touch was excruciating; I couldn’t flinch. I couldn’t refuse him. I wanted this, before the end. I wanted to be touched, to be acknowledged. I lifted my chin, and his lips closed over mine.

WHAT I LIKED: Besides the amazing world-building, and the amazing settings, I really enjoyed Samantha’s use of “slang and cant” (the slang/language of thieves and beggars) to create an amazing underground world of Scion London. I had to turn back and forth many times to the glossary-but it was worth it.

WHAT I HAD A HARD TIME WITH: Although I loved the creative use of language and terms for the world building, it was the manner in which it was delivered, which made it so difficult to wade through. The extreme amount of information and terms in the beginning was almost overwhelming. I don’t mind using a glossary for world-building terms, I just wanted it spaced more evenly throughout the storytelling, in a more creative way, so as not to feel so overwhelmed.

THE ENDING: THE BONE SEASON had an amazing, action packed ending, bringing some closure to many of the questions raised at the beginning of the story, but leading the reader to question what lies ahead in Samantha Shannon’s amazing world created in THE BONE SEASON. I will be anxiously waiting on her next book in the series, excited to dive back into this fascinating world she has created.

MY RATING: 4.0 I really liked it!

RECOMMENDATION: Dystopian and Science Fiction lovers of complex world-building.

 Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Goodreads