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The Bone Season Paperback – 2014
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*Starred Review* “We are the minority the world does not accept,” Paige Mahoney tells us, referring to the struggles of clairvoyants, from soothsayers and mediums to her own high standing as a dreamwalker. In Shannon’s galvanic debut, the first in a series of seven novels, she brings us to Scion, a totalitarian state in England circa 2059, where “voyants” are designated “unnatural” and clairvoyance is outlawed. Torn from her beloved home in Ireland as a misfit girl, Paige, whose exceptional psychic powers are matched by nearly superhero physical prowess, found sanctuary in London’s criminal underworld, working for Jaxon Hall, a gang leader in the clairvoyant syndicate, until her arrest. Now she’s imprisoned in a penal colony, Sheol I, formerly the city of Oxford, a netherworld ruled by ectoplasmic beings called the Rephaim. Will Arcturus, Paige’s Rephaite keeper, prove to be as diabolical a tyrant as she fears? Not only has Shannon dynamically and shrewdly imagined every element of this spooky yet earthy world-at-war, from its unforgiving hierarchy to vile if essential herbal concoctions, encounters with monstrous predatory creatures, and the terror of “spirit combat,” she has also tapped into the timeless wellsprings of fear and prejudice, repression and resistance. The result is a dazzlingly brainy, witty, and bewitching tale of outrageous courage, heroic compassion, transcendent love, and the quest for freedom. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: An energetic, multifaceted print and online campaign, including viral teaser trailers, will launch this exciting debut, the first in a thoughtful fantasy series by a brilliant young writer. --Donna Seaman --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Truly extraordinary and thrilling * Andy Serkis * A new breed of women authors are claiming fantasy for their own. Leading the charge is Samantha Shannon * Harper's Bazaar * A dark and exquisitely rendered fantasy unlike anything out there. The Bone Season is a must read * Kami Garcia, No. 1 New York Times bestselling co-author of the Beautiful Creatures series * Samantha Shannon has a hugely inventive talent and an imagination with seven league boots. She's hit the ground running * Susan Hill * A richly dramatic and unadulterated pleasure, filled with horrors, wonders and charm * Justina Robson, author of the Quantum Gravity series * The book invokes both the political tyranny of George Orwell and the bucolic mythmaking of J.R.R. Tolkein * USA Today * A Hunger Games-esque debut * Irish Daily Mail * A rapid-fire wonder of a book, where clairvoyants and humans battle it out against scary monsters and super-creeps ... The Bone Season is our next Twilight * Marie Claire * The Bone Season is more like the novel that JK Rowling and William Gibson never teamed up to write * Wired * A Hunger Games vibe and a few Shades of Grey * Vanity Fair * The Bone Season plots out a criminal underworld in a future where clairvoyancy exists; part fantasy, part dystopia, all intrigue. It's a world of impressive scope, accompanied by Tolkienesque appendices, glossaries, maps and all * Vogue * It has conviction in spades ... The Bone Season has the kids vs dystopia kick of The Hunger Games, but while it's better written ... It's also got the star-crossed romance of Twilight * SFX Magazine * A dazzlingly brainy, witty and bewitching tale of outrageous courage, heroic compassion, transcendent love and the quest for freedom ... the first in a thoughtful fantasy series by a brilliant young writer * Booklist * Marks the arrival of an extraordinarily talented British writer set to challenge the worldwide bestseller list domination of Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series and Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games * The British Fantasy Society * The Bone Season, set in 2059, stems from Shannon's interest in works such as The Handmaid's Tale and A Clockwork Orange, which have backdrops of repressive regimes, and in John Donne's poetry * Sunday Times * A complex and epic dystopia * Bookseller * Shannon writes so well that you stay interested, intrigued by the knife-edge motivation of character's with "six-seater lips" whose "high-collard dresses always made her think of the gallows". And although many of the paths walked by The Bone Season will already have been well travelled by fantasy readers, Shannon shows real skill in combining them so easily into an original and enjoyable escapist fictional world. Like so much recent young adult fiction, I suspect this series will appeal to the fearless teenager dwelling within many adults. The ending certainly gripped me to the marrow * Daily Telegraph * A dark, embattled, highly wrought fantasy ... Whatever the future holds, there is no doubt that Samantha is the real thing, her own sternest critic and a born storyteller * Observer * On the quite wonderful style and craft of words Samantha displays I really cannot heap enough praise - it is remarkably self-assured writing, most especially for a debut ... the most engrossing read I have had so far this year and frankly the most absorbing and compelling debut I've read since the superb Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell. Hugely recommended * Forbidden Planet International Blog * Shannon's world is meticulously detailed and has a strong internal logic ... Plenty of entertaining action ... The pace of The Bone Season seldom slacks off, and the strong and resourceful Paige is a memorable heroine. This is one buzz book that just might merit its hype * BookPage * A remarkably accomplished debut -- Jonathan Wright * SFX Magazine * Impressively realised -- Alison Flood * Sunday Times * The Bone Season is enough to transport even hardened sceptics of the fantasy genre into its imaginative realm -- Anita Sethi * Metro * Frightening and well-imagined ... fascinating ... The large talent on display here suggests just how good Shannon could get in the next six books of this promising series -- Elizabeth Word Gutting * Washington Post * Plenty for readers to get absorbed in ... With six novels to go, and an author clearly driven to go deeper and deeper into a unique world, many will surely follow her -- Tom Shippey * Wall Street Journal * Had me gripped as if in a vice ... Samantha Shannon is a young writer with a future that looks anything but dystopian * Stylist * There's a great imagination at work here, and Shannon's just getting started -- Sue Corbett * People * Dynamic and direct ... There is an exciting breadth to Shannon's world * Evening Standard * With echoes of Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games and Trudi Canavan's Black Magician trilogy, this is an excellent debut that will keep the reader gripped all the way to the end - and leave them asking when book two will be released * Irish Examiner * Don't just suspend your disbelief - send it to the pictures and sink into this fabulous, epic fantasy thriller ... Lavish, ebullient, escapist ... Bring on the sequel * The Times * Fascinating ... It will be very interesting to see where Shannon goes with this -- Ned Denny * Daily Mail * Samantha Shannon's The Bone Season is my perfect cup of tea ... My inner teenager enjoyed every last word * Sarah Vine, Daily Mail Books of the Year * --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Despite Paige sort of falling into the classic YA "chosen one" trope, she's a really enjoyable narrator. She develops a lot during the book, and by the end, she has come to this realization that a lot of her pre-Rephaim life was not what she thought it to be (no spoilers, don't worry). She did bug me a couple of times with her relentless sarcasm and cynicism, but it was nothing worth writing home about.
Arcturus... what can I say? I joked with some friends that I was worried I was temporarily trading in my feminist card for how much I loved his character, despite his being portrayed as her "captor". I won't spoil the ending, but there's a lot more than meets the eye with this big teddy bear.
There are also a handful of really delightful side characters, like Julian, Liss, and Michael, all of which I just wanted to squeeze and hug and keep safe forever.
This was my first book by Samantha Shannon, of course, and I was really pleased by the writing in it. It wasn't anything extraordinary, but it definitely did the job for me. She uses a lot of words that are not ones you would find in everyday speech, but the physical book has a glossary in the back with definitions. I didn't find that I needed it more than three or four times, honestly.
The world itself is built pretty efficiently, and since it's a magical realism book, there isn't much to tell that isn't already the reader's basic knowledge (like locations, etc). I enjoyed how in-depth the world of voyants went, with references to a multitude of different varieties (dreamwalkers, soothsayers, oracles, etc). (Fun fact on the topic: the hadal zone, as referenced in this book, is also a term for the deepest parts of the ocean. I enjoyed that comparison!)
If you're familiar with the YA/NA dystopian genre, I really don't think this will be an earth-shattering read for you, but it is a fun story with a lot of enjoyable characters and action. If you absolutely hate the "master-turned-lover" trope, you may not be able to delve into this one much, but then again, this is a slightly atypical variation on that theme. There are definitely some cliche moments throughout it, but altogether, I found this a delightful read that kept me up late and craving more, and I will definitely be continuing the series!