Review Blog

May 01 2014

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

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Bloomsbury, 2014. ISBN 9781408849989.
(Age: Year 10+) A debut novel published when the author was 21, The Bone Season is a dystopian fantasy set in 2059 AD. Interestingly, Shannon has chosen to begin the divergence from our current society back in 1859, so the London world of the novel is 200 years into a society of many types of clairvoyants.
The main character, Paige Mahoney, is a 19 year old clairvoyant who has been headhunted for her special talent as a dream walker, becoming part of a gang in the criminal underworld of London, where all clairvoyants are regarded as unnatural. She is then kidnapped and transported to Oxford along with other variously talented people, there supposedly to spend the remainder do her life in servitude to a human-like race, the Rephaim, who live in abandoned Oxford and feed off the auras of clairvoyant humans.
The plot is fast and furious, and follows a pattern of young talented protagonist caught up in a world order out of her control, but whose special gift is key to a successful resolution. There is a love/hate relationship (or maybe I should say . . . hate/love) between herself and her keeper, the mysterious Rephaite Warden. Naturally, this relationship develops as trust between the two grow and we discover that all is not harmonious within the ranks of the Rephaim.
Shannon has created a complex world complete with its own jargon. I first read the book in hard copy and was then interested to try it as an ebook. The beginning contains four pages of explanatory diagrams of the different magical orders which becomes background assumed knowledge as you read the novel. I had hoped I could use the search function to reference these terms quickly and easily, but sadly, the search function only went back as far as Chapter 1, and thus didn't pick up on 'The Seven Orders of Clairvoyance' preceding the story. It did, however, take you to the glossary (nine pages) at the end.
This is the first novel of a proposed series of seven, and already has been acquired by 20th Century Fox for a proposed film. Students who love fantasy should enjoy this novel, so it could be a good one for the library shelves, though at over 460 pages, it's not one for the casual reader. Having said this, The Bone Season has been a New York Times and Sunday Times bestseller, and has been sold in twenty-eight countries.
The interest level is around Yr 10 and up.
Anne Veitch

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