The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

The Bone Season (The Bone Season, #1)

by Samantha Shannon

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.

Reviewed by Amber (The Literary Phoenix) on

4 of 5 stars

Even though I really liked it, The Bone Season was a little all-over-the-place for me.

Paige Mahoney’s gift is fascinating – the ability to step outside of herself and move her spirit not only in the world, but into others. While this is definitely one of those “the main character has this rare and magnificent power!” tropes, I didn’t mind it so much, because she wasn’t the only one. In The Bone Season, Samantha Shannon introduces her reader to a world where “unnatural” people have incredible psychic and spiritual abilities… whether it’s simple and common like reading tarot, the the rare ability to read someone’s memories. There are so many abilities and rules to them, I’d be lying if I said I remembered them all. This is one of those book where… unless you’re taking notes… sometimes it’s best to just go with the flow.

The Bone Season bounces back and forth between the present – Bone Season XX in occupied Oxford – and Paige’s past. Flashbacks come from all parts of her history, whether it’s acquisitions for her job, or the Molly Riots in Ireland. They serve to build the world, explaining why it is the way it is and how Paige ended up with the Seven Seals and who her coworkers are. They’re interesting, but it gives the book a scattered feel. Between the flashbacks and the jump-forwards in the main timeline, I had a little trouble keeping track of time.

Please don’t think that I disliked The Bone Season. Honestly, I really liked it for its entertainment value. It’s just some of the technical aspects that throw me.

There are a lot of characters to keep track of – there’s Paige’s Seven Seals crew, her friends in Oxford, the Rephs, and the various people in her history. There are a few shoutouts to her cousin Finn who doesn’t seem important at this stage at all, expect for sentimental value on Paige’s part. Of course, this is a seven book series. Only three books are currently out, so as often happens, things will likely be resolved in The Mime Order and so forth.

The powers and the world in this alt-history/dystopian future are fascinating. The characters have a lot of potential, but we still barely know them. I am honestly looking forward to seeing where this goes. I wish I had more to say than a simple “I liked it, but it was a lot”… but I’m afraid that’s all I had. It was fascinating and drew me in every time I sat down to read it. But I feel like I missed so much that it’s definitely something I’d like to reread a little more closely.

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Reading updates

  • Started reading
  • 1 September, 2019: Finished reading
  • 1 September, 2019: Reviewed