The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

The hype for The Bone Season seemed far too overblown. Everybody read it or at least bought it, especially since it’d been out a while & the sequel was released as well. It had time to go through the cycle of being universally adored to widely debunked as “overhyped.” So I was worried it’d be a let down, actually. But twas’ not, so thank you Samantha Shannon.

Book blurbs are deceptive, foxy, little things. Don’t most fail to capture the spirit of the books they’re blurbing?

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.

Totally decent blurb, should’ve just stopped there.

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.

  1. Nobody cares that it is raining.
  2. It is not the Oxford you’re thinking of.
  3. I know nothing about this race yet, so Rephaite means nothing to me.
  4. “Her master. Her trainer. Her natural enemy.” Cue my eye-roll.

I went in with low expectations.

Let’s get the bad out of the way right off. I hate the majority of the writing. It seems repetitive at times.

“Tjäder just stared at me. … I could tell she couldn’t stand to be near me…

‘I don’t want her near me,’ Tjäder said, confirming my suspicions.”

Ugh. God awful bit right there. That one made me cringe.

But what it lacks in style, it makes up for in story.

I’m going to claim this series as my newest favorite. It’s been a while since I felt such an attachment to a book simply for the concept, story, & characters itself. The trajectory of the plot is a little cookie-cutter of a typical YA dystopia. I understand why this is known as a favorite of YA readers, in fact I’m a bit confused why it was marketed as adult & not a YA series? But what makes the story unique were the characters’ developments & the world-building. Samantha Shannon has the ability to create characters that instantly inspire the intended feeling in the reader. I feel sympathy for the goodies, hatred for the baddies, & mild adoration mixed with anger at those who fall in between.

The world-building is intricate. Not in a sprawling, overly descriptive way, but as a more factual set up. The research that seemed to go into different clairvoyances was wonderful. It starts off a little confusing, when the subject is intangible things such as “dreamscapes” & “auras,” the terminology & layouts can be unclear. But Shannon eventually defines everything concretely. It makes understanding each character’s clairvoyant abilities easy. The threats are immediately identifiable, the caste system understood.

I particularly love that the characters speak slang we’re expected to pick up or else flip to the index. It reminds me of The Diviners, but executed drastically better & more original. The unfamiliar phrases never seem forced & are usually picked up from their context right away.

She doesn’t underestimate the reader’s ability to remember information, hints, or terms. Granted, there is a bit of info-dumping, but it doesn’t bother me as it might if it were a different book. And despite what many reviewers say, not all of it is more tell than show. There are many scenes where the reader is spared an unnecessary internal monologue from the main character. For example, doubt or self-consciousness is instead entirely conveyed through the simple act of watching everyone’s faces stare at her.

Paige is very sure of herself, which is refreshing. She doesn’t hesitate over decision-making. However where she seems to weaken is the romance aspect. It’s built awkwardly & unconvincingly throughout, & is scooped up together toward the end. A character so intelligent would never be so blind toward another’s empathy. It’s forced just to carry out the predictable ‘hate-evolves-into-love’ development. I almost wish it wasn’t included it at all. Maybe I’m just not sold on inter-species stuff…

My favorite bits are her memories working as a part of the Seven Seals, her syndicate made up of badass clairvoyants. I love that it has a mafia vibe in a world that falls far out of that context. Those are my favorite characters as well.

Did I mention the music!? I love it when authors include songs! I play them in the background & it’s the ultimate form of escapism, a good story with the right music to match. I’ll include a link to my playlist which I’ll add to once I finish The Mime Order.

The Irish mob memories seemed random in order to throw some sort of interesting back story together. I’m hoping it becomes more of a focal point in future books, perhaps Finn is actually alive or something? Otherwise, I can say that there’s so much going on, I don’t particularly care about this.

I think this is a good set up for the start of a series. I was left so curious about the other types of clairvoyants & where the series is planning to go from here. This author is so young, I think we can only expect better & better. I’m hoping her style grows as she writes more. I need to get the next one for Christmas!

“There are certain things in life that you never forget. Things that dig deep, things that nest in the hadal zone.”

“He’d been playing ‘Danse Macabre’ and drinking wine all day; never a good sign. Eliza, pink-faced with the effort of controlling so many spirits, gave him a hard look. ‘You wake up on the wrong side of the chaise longue, Jaxon?'”

“I didn’t believe in hearts. I believed in dreamscapes and spirits. Those were what mattered. Those made money. But my heart had hurt that day. For the first time in my life I’d been forced to acknowledge my heart, and acknowledge its fragility. It could be bruised. It could humiliate me.”

15 thoughts on “The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

    • Thanks! 🙂 Yeah, like I said, I don’t know why this wasn’t marketed as a YA series? I think it was something to do with it being a seven book series, so presumably the character would grow farther into adulthood.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. You’ve definitely convince me to give this book a try! I’ve heard a lot of mixed feelings on it so I was a little wary. And your hardcover copy is absolutely gorgeous! I might just have to buy one of those, haha. Great review Alysyn! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I totally agree with you about the romance aspect…I just was not able to get on board! It wasn’t convincing enough for me. The good news is that The Mime Order focuses a lot more on the Seven Seals, which I found a lot more interesting than the Reph colony setting of the first book 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Brilliant review! Thanks for coming and liking mine so I could read yours. I really struggles with the terminology with this one at first, but once I got past that I absolutely loved it, especially the relationship between Paige and her captor. Shannon has managed to put a fresh slant on an otherwise very overdone story and somehow it just works. Hope you enjoy book 2! I didn’t like it quite as much but I’m still just as passionate about the series. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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