Samantha Shannon's debut novel "The Bone Season" http://www.amazon.com/The-Bone-Season-A-Novel/dp/1620401398 is a vividly re-imagined London in which paranormals with mind powers (talents) were exposed when the King of England was revealed as using his powers against English citizens. He was overthrown by the Scion, who know rule England in almost a police state. This first novel is richly textured, darkly atmospheric and engrossing view of a disturbing alternate universe.
Now, the paranormal talents are branded as unnaturals, shunned by the ruling elite and regular citizens as monsters, and marginalized, if not locked up in prisons by the Scion. Many of the powerful talents have gone underground and turned into criminals, where they can use their talents against the Scion. This is the story of one such voyant, Paige Mahoney, and what she discovers about the Scion and how they rose and keep their power in England.
As many of the recent spate of alternate history novels, this is a book set in a familiar place - England. Its easy to recognize the world -- although it still is an alien one. Shannon excels at describing the various types of mind powers and how they are used. She has developed a very in depth picture of her world with its own language and rules. There is even a glossary of her terminology in the back of the book, for those who need help. It would have been helpful if this was pointed out in the beginning of the book as some contextual clues about the meaning of words were not entirely correct.
Paige is a young voyant, who grew up privileged, but discovered early in her childhood that she had a paranormal talent. She has kept it hidden from her father. Rather than work or go to school, Paige has joined an underground criminal enterprise headed by the Mime-Lord Jaxon Hall, who uses her power as a clairovoyant to enter people's minds to protect his gang from other criminals and to make money. Paige can view people's innermost dreamscapes, learn their secrets and influence their behavior.
When confronted by Scion secret police officers on a train - she is forced to use her powers against them. That night she is arrested by the Scion and sent not to jail but to old Oxford, where she finds out that the Scion have made a partnership with a powerful group of talented "aliens" -- the Rephaim - who enslave the talented to fight the Emim. The Rephaim claim that the talented have broken into a netherworld where the Rephaim and the Emim reside -- and the Emim can kill humans. The Rephaim have made a deal with the Scion - give us your talented and we will save you from the Emim. But is it truth?
Paige is claimed by the Warden, one of the Rephaim, as his slave, but from the first Paige finds that the Warden is not like the other Rephaim. He wants to train Paige to use her talent to enter other dreamscapes and supposedly fight the Emim. But he is not as supportive of the Rephaim leadership. Paige also learns that the Rephaim do not only use the talented to fight the Emim, but also spiritually feed on the talented.
Meanwhile, one of the Rephaim leaders wants to claim Paige's powers and kidnap Paige's fellow members of the criminal underground to act as her slaves.
Can Paige discover the secrets of the Rephaim and escape from their diabolical compound? Can she protect her fellow gang members outside the Rephaim compound and her friends in it from the preditations of these spectral vampires? Who and what are the Rephaim? Why do they wear gloves and avoid all human contact? Why do they feed on the talented to survive? While she tries to learn the answers to these issues, you to will try to figure out the secrets of the Rephaim as well.
The twentieth bone season, when the Rephaim claim the talented from the Scion as payment for their protection -- could it be their last? This novel is both an alternate history, a romance and a vivid look at mind powers in a disturbingly set alternate reality, where otherworldly powers are secretly plotting.
Its a winner.