Boy do I love a good Dystopian text. I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it. I love the genre and everything about it. I love reading it, I love writing it and I love adaptations that include barely legal heartthrobs and smoldering yet artsy posters (I’m looking at you, Divergent!). But my only issue is that they all seem to be extremely American. Even the ones set in England tend to have a United States twang to them. Maybe it’s me, but I feel that a good Dystopian novel set in Britain is just what the world needs as we continue to grieve the loss of Harry Potter.
Enter Samantha Shannon and her best-selling novel, The Bone Season. The title may give you all the wrong ideas as this is a fabulously delicious tale of modern day witch trials that infuses the universal action and mystery we expect of its genre as well as a good dollop of tasteful Britishness. The story tells us of Paige Mahoney (Who is actually Irish, but we’ll move on), a clairvoyant living in Scion occupied London in 2059. She lives in a secret world where the abnormal is deemed wrong and is punishable by death. As a “dreamwalker” she able to walk in and out of people’s minds and as such she must keep her gift a secret. After a fatal incident on a train, she is kidnapped and taken to Oxford, now a lost city, where the secrets of the world she lives in are revealed.
It’s a pretty meaty subject matter that spans different timelines. One chapter we’re in the nitty gritty with Paige as she rebels against the new order she’s placed in when the next chapter shows us her life before as a questioning young girl falling in love for the first time. As a romantic, and a fan of strong female characters, I have to say that Shannon really does kill it in that regard. Paige is pretty bad ass. She fights the power by no mistake and her actions are the perfect blend of enthralling and endearing. The story is so intricate you get the sense the Shannon totally knows what’s going on and we’re left in the dark struggling to piece together the clues she leaves us. Also, I’m all for a love triangle. Who isn’t, right? But this one takes the crown. God, I wish I could tell you but you’re going to have to read it for yourselves! It’s so modern and cool, I mean you absolutely see it coming but that doesn’t make it any less gratifying when it arrives.
Hoooooowever, the book is not without its flaws. As a seven part series, I understand that there is still more to learn about Paige but sometimes I found myself wanting the book to just get to the bloody point! The suspense is great and I truly had no idea where the plot was going, but sometimes I found some chapters felt more like filler than anything else. It ebbs and it flows as a novel but a lot of the things I found more intriguing come very late in the book. Also, the world of The Bone Season is a complicated one. The way Paige’s gift works and the language used could be very confusing in places. Shannon does a terrific job in explaining the mechanics of the “aether” and how Paige’s gift of using it works but as a novel, the golden rule of showing and not telling intervenes and I’m left scratching my head. Luckily for me, Shannon announced quite recently that she will be releasing a series of blog post explaining whatever her fans want to know. You can find her blog here.
At the tender age of twenty-two Samantha Shannon has achieved more than some novelists dare to dream. A six-figure book deal with Bloomsbury, a commissioned seven-book deal, Andy Serkis overseeing the film adaptation and a sequel novel only round the corner. She’s brilliant at what she does she creates an exceptional world from her own lovely London town and writes characters you not only care about, but want to know more about.
In summary: It’s pretty damn good.