Publisher: Bloomsbury - Released 20th August 2013
E-Arc Courtesy of Netgalley & Bloomsbury
It is the year 2059. Several major world cities are under the control of a security force called Scion. Paige Mahoney works in the criminal underworld of Scion London, part of a secret cell known as the Seven Seals. The work she does is unusual: scouting for information by breaking into others’ minds. Paige is a dreamwalker, a rare kind of clairvoyant, and in this world, the voyants commit treason simply by breathing. But when Paige is captured and arrested, she encounters a power more sinister even than Scion. The voyant prison is a separate city—Oxford, erased from the map two centuries ago and now controlled by a powerful, otherworldly race. These creatures, the Rephaim, value the voyants highly—as soldiers in their army. Paige is assigned to a Rephaite keeper, Warden, who will be in charge of her care and training. He is her master. Her natural enemy. But if she wants to regain her freedom, Paige will have to learn something of his mind and his own mysterious motives.
Set in the near future, but in a world which diverged from ours two hundred years ago, The Bone Season has its work cut out introducing us to a world and society very different from what we know. However Samantha Shannon succeeds brilliantly by introducing us, not only to one new world, but to many via a multi-layered complex society with secrets and prejudices. The world building is strong and could withstand an earthquake! Scion hold cities in their grip, terrified of those among the population who can read minds, communicate with ghosts and use the dead as weapons. Paige is one of these voyants, working for a criminal mime-lord in central London when she is captured by the Scion and sent to the former city of Oxford where she discovers that there is more to voyants and Scions hatred of them than she ever knew.
Paige is a great heroine – tenacious, determined but smart and slightly on the defensive side as she has had to hide what she is all her life, even from family. She resolves to escape Oxford however she can but there are multiple threads around her with many people working on their own agendas – who can she trust? Other voyants are self serving and her Keeper, Warden is distant and unsympathic.
I admit I was a little wary when I first started The Bone Season as I thought it was going to be like multiple other YA stories with simple characters and a straight forward right verses wrong story. I was so happy to be proved wrong! The characters are all three dimensional with their own prejudices. The Rephiam, far from being slightly different types of human are unique, with their motivations mysterious. They feel different and like Paige, you are never sure what they are up to or what they want. Paige’s reaction and relationships are well explored and you do feel that she is a good person in an impossible situation. However, I have to admit that the timing of the story felt a little off to me – I felt that only a couple of weeks had passed for Paige wince she was captured but it turned out to be months.Manybe I was just reading too fast! J
My real joy in reading The Bone Season was the complexity of the plot which varied and twisted back on itself. There is some truly horrific violence. While the story started here is complete with a satisfying conclusion there are plenty of questions and mysteries still outstanding not least is how Paige has changed after her experiences. I will be looking forward to seeing how the rest of this wider arc plays out!
Recommended for fans of Deborah Harkness and Isobelle Carmody. 8 out of 10