Review: The Bone Season, by Samantha Shannon

The Bone Season, by Samantha Shannon
The Bone Season, by Samantha Shannon

For most people living in Scion London in 2059, clairvoyance is the stuff of fantasy, reserved for frightening unruly children away from meddling with things they do not understand. But for Paige Mahoney, clairvoyance is all too real and all too dangerous. Part of a crime syndicate who uses their voyant powers for financial gain, Paige fears execution when she is arrested by Scion police.

But instead, Paige is shipped to a voyant prison colony in what used to be Oxford, where her wardens are a powerful, otherwordly race known as the Rephaim. They treat voyants as slaves, feeding on them psychically and forcing them to fight the horrific monsters that stalk along the boundaries of their prison. Paige is desperate to escape Oxford, and the only way is to delve deep into the history and motives of her Rephaite masters. Will she learn enough to defeat them? Or will they devour her, body, mind, and soul?

I picked up Samantha Shannon’s debut novel on the recommendation of one of my beta readers, and I’m so glad I did! Although I usually shy away from novels with a great deal of hype, for once I thought the novel in question deserved the praise heaped upon it. I really enjoyed this novel, from its spunky heroine to its sizzling pace to its creep-tastic monsters.

I had only a few problems with the novel, and the bulk of them appeared in the beginning. The first few chapters are difficult to get through, because Shannon has the unfortunate habit of drowning the reader in information about her world, her characters, and their histories. Granted, Shannon’s world is complex and deep, but I would have appreciated a bit more showing and a lot less telling. I was so overwhelmed with nonsense words, names, and terms that I barely made it past the first few chapters.

I was glad I did, though. Once Shannon sets the stage, the novel moves quickly, with exciting action and high stakes. Paige is a really great protagonist; she’s tough, intense, and motivated by a complicated but relatable backstory.  She comes off as a little hard at times, but after a while it becomes obvious that she cares deeply for those close to her, and has a strong protective urge.

My favorite aspect of The Bone Season was the otherworldly race known as the Rephaim. Although they superficially resemble humans–albeit super tall, super pretty, super strong humans–Shannon shows us that their inner landscape is totally alien. Their ruthless treatment of the humans under their care as well as their general apathy for humanity in general makes them terrifying, and their near-infallible clairvoyant powers lends them an omnicient, creepy edge. As villains, the Rephaim were the perfect combination of sexy, dark, and bloodthirsty, and really set the tone for the whole novel.

Overall, I really enjoyed the fast pace, tough heroine, and creepy villains of The Bone Season, and I look forward to reading more of Shannon’s work!

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