Review: The Bone Season

Author: Samantha Shannon
Date of Publication: August 20 2013
Pages: 452
Source: Library ebook

The year is 2059. Nineteen-year-old Paige Mahoney is working in the criminal underworld of Scion London, based at Seven Dials, employed by a man named Jaxon Hall. Her job: 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.

It is raining the day her life changes for ever. Attacked, drugged and kidnapped, Paige is transported to Oxford – a city kept secret for two hundred years, controlled by a powerful, otherworldly race. Paige is assigned to Warden, a Rephaite with mysterious motives. He is her master. Her trainer. Her natural enemy. But if Paige wants to regain her freedom she must allow herself to be nurtured in this prison where she is meant to die.

The Bone Season introduces a compelling heroine and also introduces an extraordinary young writer, with huge ambition and a teeming imagination. Samantha Shannon has created a bold new reality in this riveting debut.

The Bone Season was appealing. Something about the cover, the title, and the synopsis compelled me to desire this book for a very long time. Two years after it was published, I finally read it, and I feel vindication because this strange compulsion managed, yet again, to push me to read a phenomenal book that I enormously enjoyed.

From other reviews of The Bone Season, it appeared to me that this book would be full of lengthy, tedious descriptions. People said the world was incredibly well-developed; almost too much thought was put into the setting and there would be miles of extraneous information. Strangely, this is something I can very much enjoy. I like complete stories with fleshed-out worlds. I like for the characters to have a background and I love little details, even if they don’t contribute to the plot because if every detail contributes to the plot, I've read enough stories to read in between the lines. The Bone Season was gloriously detailed, but I never thought it was tedious. I thought it was extremely important to have a solid foundation because the author’s world is complex, and deserves it.

If there is one criticism of The Bone Season, it is that it ends a bit abruptly. I understand this is just the first in a very long series, but please Samantha, you cannot leave me like that! Flipping the next page of my ebook only to find that the book is done. As endings go, it is logical and somewhat circular, but, okay, this isn't even a real criticism: I just want more. I want more about Paige, and Nick, and Jaxon, and Warden, and more more more more.

I was entranced from the first page of The Bone Season. I hadn’t read a book in months, and reading about this character who was hunted in her society, Scion, because of something she could not control, her ‘unnaturalness’, which had driven her to the underground where she was in a gang… well, how is this not fascinating? Especially when you find out the part where there’s this thing called aether which is like a spiritual world thingy, and clairvoyants are being hunted because the public fears them. Plus, you have the super cool clairvoyant powers and the complexity brought in by Paige’s judgements of certain gifts. It is all imaginative and I enjoyed discovering this rich new world.

I almost feel like The Bone Season has a Red Rising-ish quality to it in that it’s a very complete, well rounded book, and the characters almost matter less. When I think of some books, the first thing that comes to mind is a particular character or relationship. The storyline is almost irrelevant (see: Damon Salvatore, The Vampire Diaries). The Bone Season is a story that has so much going on for it that my thoughts flicker between the coolness of clairvoyance, the intrigue in some of the characters’ relationships, and the world. It’s the complete package.

Paige is the main character and I loved her. I loved that we got to know her through her history, and she is a character that is strong and vulnerable. I loved that she doesn't entirely know herself yet and is still searching for who she is. Her relationship with some characters was fascinating because Paige is a lone wolf in the sense that she is capable of doing things herself. There is no one character she is anchored to. She is compassionate and cares about the people in her life, but she also has a fierce sense of survival. Paige’s exploration and training was incredibly fascinating, as was her iron will. She refuses to submit, and this is both a strength and a flaw. I'm curious to see where this tenacity takes her in future novels.

An underratedly fun aspect of The Bone Season would be the exhilarating action scenes. There are a lot of fights and when you have the psychic magic and the physical struggle, you get some pretty intense battle scenes. Our main character is a trained fighter, and I had a lot of fun reading about her, um, encounters.

Now, for a legit request. Near the end of The Bone Season, there was some added complexity to Paige and her inner self. I would like Paige to be a little less righteous. Thus far, Paige is extremely pure because she sticks a lot to what is right, but I think for The Bone Season to be truly excellent, it needs to have some moral ambiguity so the lines aren't so cleanly black and white. I feel like this is something the author is already leading on to, based on some bits of the ending, but it’s something I'm going to look out for because I think it’s what could bring this whole series to another level.
In any case, I am extremely excited about this series. It seems like it will be phenomenal, but the next book, The Mime Lord, is going to be extremely pivotal for the shape of the series. I always say that the first book sets up a series, and the second book differentiates it, and I'm curious to see how big this story will be. I obviously hope for an epic, but for now I'm stuck with a terrible book hangover. The Bone Season is a series I’ll be watching out for, and has the potential to be an all-time favourite!



  1. I adored the Bone Season and I think you'll enjoy the next book in the series if you want to read Paige being a lil less black & white! ;)
    Great review!

    1. YES! I'm actually so excited for the next book. Currently, my library has no copies which is utterly ridiculous, but I'm glad you adored this one too!



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