Sunday, 30 March 2014

Review: The Bone Season

'The Bone Season' is the d├ębut novel by British author Samantha Shannon

Synopsis (from The Bone Season Website)
Nineteen-year-old Paige Mahoney works in the criminal underworld of Scion London. Her job is 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…

'The Bone Season' is another offering to the ever-hungry Gods of The Dystopian. But Shannon really does an excellent job of expanding the genre and giving it a new stage to play on. For the first time, at least in my limited experience, we see clairvoyance, communication with the dead, used as a central magical element. Like Brandon Sanderson's 'Mistborn' trilogy (see my review here), Shannon really works hard to give the reader a new magic to wrap their heads around. And, as with Mistborn, there is plenty to learn! The huge lists of clairvoyant powers and their dissidents at the start of the book intimidated me to begin with and I must admit that even by the end I've still not quite wrapped my brain round all the limits and scope of it. 

While 'The Bone Season' is set in the year 2058, the course of history as we know it is distorted by the take over of Scion at the end of the 19th Century. This gives the setting a bizarre mix of pocket watches and ipads, which I just loved. I mean, who wouldn't want to watch TV on the tube while wearing a waistcoat and lace up boots? Its also nice to have a dystopian future set in the UK. It makes my little English heart happy.

Paige Mahoney, the main character, comes to us as a fully-formed member of the criminal underworld, which is an interesting divergence from the everyday-girl-turned-warrior you often see. It sets up for an brilliant back story and I like the fact that the reader knows this person has already had plenty of experiences even before the start of the story.

I had some struggles trying to actually buy 'The Bone Season'. Primarily because I couldn't find it! I had expected it to be in the YA section, or at the very least with Fantasy, but it was placed with the general fiction. I'm not sure if this is a positive or a negative. It's wonderful to see a book like this included in the bigger collection, but perhaps not highlighting its fantasy genre could turn potential readers away? It's an interesting question and is one that, as someone looking to promote a book to agents, a potentially very important one.

I've been excited to read 'The Bone Season' for months, ever since I first saw it. It had a huge impact on me even before I'd read it. Because, truth be told, it was what made me write 'Grey Sister'. (Beware: hopeless fangirling approaching. Please keep your arms inside the ride at all times.) Because of the author. 

(Isn't she a cutie?)
Samantha Shannon wrote, completed and published 'The Bone Season' at the age of 21, while she was at Oxford completing her degree! During my final year I barely had time to eat, never mind write a book! That someone younger than me had already come so far was a huge inspiration to me and gave me the hope that I could actually try to chase my own dream. The fact that she had written something in my preferred genre helped to. If I hadn't read her bio on the back page of 'The Bone Season', I may never have started writing. So, thank goodness for her! 

'The Bone Season' is the first in a seven-part series (oh dear, we're in for a long haul). The second book, 'The Mime Order' is out 21st October.

I'm going to give 'The Bone Season' 8 out of 10, for being such inspiration and such a fascinating introduction to the story. 

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