Title: The Bone Season (The Bone Season #1)
Author: Samantha Shannon
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Released: 20th August 2013
Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Thanks to my obnoxiously frustrating mood lately, it took me far longer than it should have done to read The Bone Season. Through no fault of its own, three chapters in it was ungratefully cast aside so my restless mind could settle on other things - other books - until I actually forced myself to go back to it. This time I pushed through; finally my mind calmed and I was able to lose myself in what is an undoubtedly exceptional read.
We find ourselves first in the heart of London, where the Seven Seals reside. In a world where clairvoyance is illegal, this syndicate must ensure they keep their abilities secret. Paige Mahoney in particular is a rare type of clairvoyant; she is a dreamwalker, with the ability to break into and explore the minds of others. The last thing she needs is for the Scion to find out, the ruling force and the reason behind the sudden disappearance of so many clairvoyants. But then she's caught, and she finds herself in the voyant prison in Oxford. Except here there are creatures even worse than the Scion: the Rephaim. To them, clairvoyants are good for something: fighting. Unknown to the rest of the world, there is a war going on, and the Rephaim see the clairvoyants as soldiers. Paige subsequently finds herself without any freedom. She has a Master, Warden, and if she wants to survive she'll have to take care. But at the same time she has no plans to stop fighting for her freedom, and doing so will meaning learning more about this man who seems to have many secrets of his own.
Of course one of the most significant achievements of Shannon here is the absolutely incredible world building. I loved the alternative version of London she presented, the idea of Oxford being this ancient, barely acknowledged place and shrouded in mystery. There is a lot of variety to be found here. We have the term 'clairvoyant', yes, but there are so many kinds; this is a world truly thought out. Unbeknownst to me, there was a glossary at the back (I was reading it on Kindle), so it was somewhat confusing at first. Admittedly trying to take in everything is a bit of a task, since there's just so much. After a while, though, I was used to it and everything was starting to make sense. The mix of both old and new, familiar and unfamiliar, was done in a manner entirely appealing. There is also a level of complexity and suspense that made this book all the more delicious.
Paige, our heroine, was a character easy to appreciate. She's a strong, independent person, and realistically so. Her voice is such that it doesn't just recede into a background hum with loads of other protagonists; it stands out and becomes something familiar, something welcoming, something you want to hear more of. Warden, too, is someone I found impossible not to like - except there is an extra layer of complexity to him that leaves me eager to know even more. My trust of him was a slow thing; naturally, I was intrigued from the start, but Shannon draws you in, pulls you along slowly so that you're as wary as Paige. There are so many aspects to him, some of these simply hinted at, so that while the reader is offered a good impression of who he is, it is still too vague. I mean this in an entirely positive sense. The romance, which was gloriously slow, still allowed for two separate individuals, each with their own distinct personality. The dynamics changed constantly, and each of the characters, and their relationship, were all written masterfully.
All in all, Samantha Shannon has come out with an excellent debut. With her truly astonishing world building and vivid characters, this is an author you don't want to miss, and her book leaves me itching for more.