Paige Mahoney was last seen fleeing her captures & returning to the Seven Dials in the futuristic London setting of The Bone Season. The first of a seven series installment included several flashbacks of her days working for Jaxon Hall, or the White Binder. A mob like syndicate in the gangster system of clairvoyants. In the second installment, we pick up directly where the last left off.
My favorite part of the first book were the scenes with the whole crew back in London, so The Mime Order was more enjoyable for me setting-wise. I definitely wish there were more scenes of them altogether, but the aim here was more about the unraveling of the gang. The overall structure of the story wasn’t as tight until the end though. There was a lot of build up & some of it dragged on in pages of Paige spying, or Paige waiting, or Paige hiding. The side characters are used simply as a means to help her from Point A to Point B. But the finale! It basically makes up for all of that.
One of the main highlights of this sequel is Jaxon’s character arc. Whether the reader loves him or hates him, you can’t deny that he is one of the best characters in any recent dystopia/fantasy novels.
Paige is also still one of the better heroines out there. Her assurance is refreshing. Her immediate confidence is strong enough to be a distinct character trait, but she still has enough growing to do that her self doubt at times seems relatable.
However, every scene with Warden turns her into a flat, cookie-cutter, plain Jane. I can’t stand the Warden+Paige romance. It is boring. She loses her autonomy. It’s far more interesting whenever she has some distrust of him, such as a scene where she roles from her bed ready to attack with a knife the second she feels threatened.
Paige’s Irish background plays in a bit more, but not much. Instead it’s used in a parallel way to her clairvoyance. She’s already an outsider against the amaurotic, or the non-clairvoyant people, but now she’s doubly an outsider for her heritage & birthplace. It helps that it has real roots in Irish oppression’s history.
There is also a theme of the power of written word. There are even clairvoyants who specialize in publishing & writing. In any medium other than a book this would seem arbitrary, but it’s woven into the plot in a more subtle way as the story continues. Paige uses penny-dreadfuls to spread her message & start a revolution. Eventually it seems to backfire, but does it?
There is also some great commentary on the Scion political system that could relate to most real life systems today. There are leaders, there are bad leaders, there are faces to mask the true bad leaders, & with every one that gets knocked down, another is there to take it’s place. The least of many evils is impossible to discern because each evil is only fractionally less so than the last, or mostly not less at all, only different in the way they present it.
What makes this book great is definitely the final scene. The entire book leads up to an arena-like competition where clairvoyants are pitted against each other in a stylized battle royale. It is the most successful ending I’ve read in a series in a while. It completes the story fully, while leaving enough to want another installment. Without spoiling anything, it is sure not to disappoint.
Shannon has certainly grown as an author since her first novel. There is less exposition & more concrete storytelling. However if her goal throughout the series is to have Paige’s voice age with her as the books become more & more adult, then I’m not sure if that’s working successfully so far. I’m willing to forgive this since it doesn’t span too much time from where we left off in the first novel, but hopefully in future books this becomes more apparent.
If you liked The Bone Season, The Mime Order will definitely hold up. However, if you were on the fence about the first, I wouldn’t recommend the second. Shannon’s style & structure pretty much stays the same. But if your main fault with the first was that the scenes of Paige in captivity sort of bored you, then this one will exceed your expectations highly.
On an side note, what type of fury is Danica? Do we even know yet? That ending! That ending! I want to talk about it so badly, but don’t want to spoil anything for future readers! I want The Song Rising!