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.
This was actually a re-read for me and I easily enjoyed it as much the second time around. Samantha Shannon creates a world both truly unique and also recognisable. Paige Mahoney is an unnatural, a criminal, a dreamwalker. She lives her life as two separate people; on one hand she is ‘The Pale Dreamer’ a clairvoyant in the service of Jaxon Hall, and the other she is the daughter of a Scion worker who works a dead end job at an oxygen bar. Until one day that all changes. Paige wakes up in pain to find she has been kidnapped and taken to Oxford, a city she thought to be gone. There she finds a secret hundreds of years in the making, one that has far reaching consequences not just for Paige, but for her fellow Clairvoyants. If Paige is to survive she will have to place her trust in the unlikeliest of places, allowing herself to be trained, to become more powerful, to prepare herself for the moment she is supposed to die.
Paige is a character I had no trouble bonding with. She is strong willed, closed off and very, very sarcastic. Having to spend her life hiding what she is from her family has put a toll on her, and the only place she feels safe and understood is in the dials with the rest of Jaxon’s crew. She is a rarity, a prize in Jaxon’s possession, and although Paige knows deep down that Jaxon would disown her without her gift, she cant help but feel beholden to him for giving her a safe place, somewhere she belongs, somewhere she feels wanted. We do meet the rest of Jaxon’s crew, the seven seals, but only for brief moments at a time since Paige spends the majority of the book in Oxford with Warden. Warden is a Rephaite, a being from another dimension, brought here when Clairvoyants appeared a ripped a hole in the aether. He is closed off, but Paige seems to be chipping his armour away bit by bit. We know there is something different about him, he is kinder to Paige than the other Reph, but we don’t realise his true motives until the end of the book.
One of the things that always makes me a little sad when it comes to fantasy is knowing I’m unable to visit the world that the author has created. But! With The Bone Season, Shannon writes her story into a world easily traversable. Even being a dystopian future, there are still monuments and places that any visitor to London would recognise, As a frequent visitor to London I always seem to find myself wandering through the Seven Dials, and this ability to almost put yourself into the story makes it all the more encompassing.
I can see where some people would come off saying this book is a little ‘info dumpy.’ Shannon uses this, the first book, to give us a real in depth history of Scion London, and how it came to be. I honestly loved these parts of the book, learning all about the different types of Clairvoyants, how they came to be, why Scion was created. Her descriptive writing completely brings Scion London and Oxford to life and it is easy to imagine yourself as part of Paige’s story. The Bone Season was meant to be a set-up book and it worked perfectly, you get to spend an incredible amount of time learning about the MC, the different levels of Clairvoyance, and the other creatures that now share the world we know and love.
We get to delve into a whole host of different relationships throughout the book. The slightly twisted relationship between Paige and Jaxon, the person she feels beholden too even if she doesn’t always agree with his decision making. The love Paige holds for Nik, a member of the seven seals and the first person who told Paige that being different wasn’t always a bad thing, and the tumultuous relationship between Paige and Warden. I will admit to this being a favourite of mine, he seems to have endless patience with Paige’s sarcasm and unwillingness to learn, which just annoys Paige all the more. But it’s only when we learn his true motives that we start to see him as more than captor but as a trainer, an ally and possible more. I know their relationship will be explored more in the next books and I am excited to see it progress.
Does the Bone Season take a little while to get going? Yes, absolutely. But, make it to the ending and I can guarantee you will be dying to get your hands on the next book. Shannon leaves us with one hell of a cliffhanger, and it took all my self control to now throw my TBR out of the window and not pick up book two ( even though I’ve read them before!). I’m re-reading these in preparation for The Mask Falling which is out next year, and it is re-affirming itself as a favourite series of mine.