In just three days, “The Bone Season,” the first installment in up-and-coming writer Samantha Shannon’s new fantasy series, hits bookstores in the U.S. Shannon, a twenty-one-year-old student of English at St Anne's College, Oxford, signed to Bloomsbury Publishing (the publisher behind “Harry Potter”) in 2012, and with a planned total of seven books set in a magical London, it's no wonder she's being called the next J.K. Rowling. "The Bone Season" begins with the introduction of nineteen-year-old Paige Mahoney, a girl living in the futuristic world of Scion London, where clairvoyance has been outlawed for nearly two hundred years. Paige is a dreamwalker, a clairvoyant who can invade others’ dreamscapes, and works covertly for a group known as the Seven Dials, an underground crime syndicate made up of other talented clairvoyants. One night, Paige is involved in a fight that ends in the deaths of two of Scion’s guards and, after trying to run, she is captured by Scion authorities. Paige is then taken to the outlying community of Sheol I, where young clairvoyants are held as prisoners of a mysterious supernatural race known as the Rephaim. As Paige struggles to adjust to her new life in Sheol I, she must discover who her friends and enemies are and devise a plan to free herself and the hundreds of other captive clairvoyants from the Rephaim’s tyranny.
"The Bone Season," while an entertaining read that combines elements of the dystopian and paranormal romance genres, does not quite live up to the hype surrounding it. While Shannon proves herself to be a great world-builder, she is far more adept at telling than showing, treating her readers as if they are already in the know about the workings of Scion and its clairvoyant inhabitants. From page one we are totally immersed in the fantasy world and Shannon inundates the reader with unfamiliar slang and terms that are never fully explained (except in the glossary at the end of the book). Aspects of the fantasy world that should be explained early on are pushed to the middle or end of the novel, making the first two hundred or so pages a confusing jumble of flashbacks that create more questions than answers. The love story between Paige and her Rephaite keeper, Warden, also seems to miss the mark. You're never quite sure whether to root for their forbidden relationship or cringe at the idea of Paige falling for the creature that she continually views as her enemy.
Despite these set backs, Shannon's first novel does show potential. She has created a smart, witty heroine in Paige and pitted her against a formidable enemy, Rashida, leader of the Rephaim. This first volume has plenty of action and fantastical elements to satisfy readers and leaves us with questions that (we hope) will be answered in the sequels. "The Bone Season" will be available for purchase Tuesday, Aug. 20.
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