The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon – a review by Haylee Nash

by |August 20, 2013

Booktopia’s Romance Specialist Haylee Nash reads The Bone Season… and finds a new obsession

A couple of months ago, I received a press release for an upcoming book from Bloomsbury, care of Allen & Unwin. It was a young adult dystopian, written by a 22 year old,  and Bloomsbury were going to be putting a huge marketing effort behind it. They thought it was going to be big.  When the publishers of Harry Potter ask you to read a review copy of a young adult book that they think is going to be big, you read it.

Despite it being a rather large book (I’m used to quick romance reads, and not a particularly fast reader) I opened the first page on the bus after work and soon found myself at home, seemingly without noticing the hour and a half journey. It took me many more trips home, and sessions on the couch, to finish the book, but not for lack of interest – I loved the book so much I wanted to savour each and every character and scene. I quickly scouted out another review copy for my 21 year old sister, who devoured it in a quarter of the time (and urged me, daily, to hurry up and finish so we could discuss it).

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The Bone Season is the story of Paige Mahoney, a young, streetwise ‘voyant’ (clairvoyant) who is able to read, and even invade, people’s dreamscapes (a place similar to one’s unconscious), a gift that makes her valuable in the voyant underworld, and one that places her in extreme danger.  For Paige lives in Scion, an alternate, dystopian imagining of London, which rules over its inhabitants with an iron fist and deems all supernatural ability illegal. One night, after an extremely gruelling session of dreamwalking, Paige’s abilities are discovered and she is captured, taken to a prison filled with other voyants of varying abilities. What follows will make a lie of everything she has ever known and test her abilities beyond all imagining.

samantha-shannon-credit-mark-pringle_custom-78bfc5b942469aeb2307417773448941cdc12b0c-s6-c30My synopsis, and the publisher’s blurb, are deliberately vague as the first twist in this book comes early and it would be unfair to spoil any plot point in this surprising and addictive book. What I can tell you is not only will you love Paige (who echoes Katniss Everdeen in her strength and deviance, but is entirely unique) but you will be utterly enchanted by the complex world Samantha Shannon has created.  While compelling and thrilling, The Bone Season is not necessarily an easy read – the many different kinds of clairvoyants, the unique language that Shannon uses and the overall world-building make for a bit of extra work on the part of the reader. However, the author, or indeed her publishers , have anticipated this and included a glossaries and a map to help the reader locate and visualise the world and this extra work only makes the reading experience more rewarding.

The Bone Season is the kind of novel that reminds you why you love reading – one that not only transports you to another world but has you walking around in a haze after closing the pages and searching for fellow readers to discuss the book with. The kind of book that has you preaching about its merits to anyone who will listen and, to be honest, makes you a bit of a pain to be around because of it.

Here’s the bad news – The Bone Season does not have a satisfying ending (its right for the book, but certainly leaves you hanging) and it is the first book in a SEVEN book series. So, like with Harry Potter, fans have signed up to a gruelling seven year period of painful, anxious longing for the story’s conclusion. Thanks Shannon, it’s not like I didn’t have enough to worry about already.

Haylee Nash is the Romance Specialist at Booktopia and has an addictive personality…so when she likes something, she REALLY likes it. Her current addictions are The Bone Season, Snickers Pods and her dog Phantom.

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