The Bone Season

The Bone Season

Title: The Bone Season

Author: Samantha Shannon

Series: The Bone Season, #1

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing

Release Date: August 20th 2013


Five Stars

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.

The Bone Season introduces a compelling heroine and also introduces an extraordinary young writer, with huge ambition and a teeming imagination. Samantha Shannon has created a bold new reality in this riveting debut.

– Blurb courtesy of

My Thoughts On…

…The Plot

“We call these decadal harvests Bone Seasons. This is Bone Season XX.”

Imagine a world where people are reliving the Salem witch trials, where people are hunted because of something they have no control or power over, where even normal humans can be taken and never heard from again. This is a world that Paige Mahoney lives in.

Paige is a Dreamwalker living in a city which hunts and kills clairvoyants for crimes of unnaturalness. She goes through life keeping a low profile and her head down, trying to survive. As not only a clairvoyant but a member of a criminal syndicate Paige knows if she is ever caught it will mean certain death. However, one evening, cornered when travelling to visit her father and fearing capture Paige loses control of her powers and uses her Dreamwalker ability to kill one guard and push another deep into his mind, damaging his sanity.

Terrified she runs home and calls the mime-lord of the Seven Seals and her boss, Jaxon, but before he can get to Paige the Scion find her. Paige is pursued, captured, and when she wakes she is no longer in London. Instead she has been taken to Oxford, a quarantined city now known as Sheol I, and along with the other clairvoyants that have been captured Paige is assigned a Rephaite keeper. She is chosen by Arcturus Mesarthim, Warden, who until Paige has never shown interest in a human before.

“Paige, you will have two tasks tonight,” he said, turning to face me. “Both will test the limits of your sanity. Will you believe me if I tell you that they will help you?”
“Not likely,” I said “but let’s get on with it.”

Paige may be one of the most powerful clairvoyants in Sheol I but she isn’t well trained in her powers and she doesn’t have confidence in them. When she used her Dreamwalker ability to kill one of the Night Vigilance Division guards it was the first time she had ever done more with her power than brush against people’s minds. However Nashira Sargas, the blood-sovereign of the Rephaim, covets Paige’s Dreamwalker ability and plans to kill Paige and trap her spirit to access her power once Warden has fully trained her. However Warden has his own plans and is determined to help Paige master her gift for herself, not for Nashira.

Meanwhile, unsure if she can even trust Warden, Paige is planning her escape but it’s hard to find people willing to help her who she can trust. The last uprising failed when one human revealed everything to Nashira. The genocide of the clairvoyants and the harsh punishment dealt to the Rephaite’s who helped has cowed everyone now inhabiting Sheol I from even entertaining the idea of rebelling. Alone and in a city where everyone has their own agenda, without her syndicate at her back, Paige has to decide very quickly who she can trust with her life.

…The Characters

“This was what my spirit longed to do, to wander in strange lands. It couldn’t stand being trapped in one body all the time. It had wanderlust.”

Paige was weak despite her massive potential before she was captured by Scion and sent to Sheol I. She relied on her syndicate and hid behind Jaxon’s strength. After being sent to Sheol I she grows a lot as a character; she becomes stronger, harsher, and forged in fires into someone who fights her own battles, who value freedom above all and leads the other clairvoyants when no one else can.

The journey Paige takes in the space of a few months is incredible. She doesn’t give up, even when things look hopeless she keeps moving forwards, determined to get back home to the Seven Dials and her friends.

“One of the Rephaim was looking at me.
He must have been examining me for some time. His gaze cleaved straight to mine, as if he’d been waiting for me to look, watching for a flicker of dissent.”

Warden doesn’t abuse or treat Paige as less than him, unlike most of the other Rephaim keepers. He wants to train her, but not so Nashira can kill Paige for her powers. Warden wants her help to try and change things, for humans and Rephaim alike. He’s a very private and closed-off person, keeping most of his thoughts hidden, which makes sense when we discover more about his past. Eventually we see that Warden believes the Rephaim and the clairvoyants can work together, he wants what is best for them both and not to rule over the clairvoyants with distain and cruelty like Nashira.

The relationship between Warden and Paige is a complicated one; neither of them trusts the other at first, and Warden almost seems to go out of his way to avoid Paige. He keeps secrets from the whole of the Rephaim that he expects Paige to help keep with no explanation or reasoning given as to why. When Warden starts to train Paige he pushes her to master her Dreamwalker ability, believing she has a great power even when Paige doubts herself. Warden needs Paige to trust him but after what the Rephaim have done to her and the other clairvoyants she finds it’s hard. Eventually she starts seeing another side to him, and she slowly starts to trust him a little after realising how much of his own faith and trust he has put in her own hands.

“You saved me, Nick. Sooner or later I would have lost my mind. I had to know, or I would have always felt like an outsider. You made me feel like I was part of something, part of a lot of things actually. I’ll never be able to repay you for that.”

I’d be interested to learn more about Paige’s syndicate and the people she surrounded herself with outside of Sheol I. We hear a lot about them through Paige and they are never far from her thoughts. She uses them as her motivation; when things are tough she thinks about her family, the only people who know everything about her, and she keeps going.

…The Setting

Everyone had heard about the lost city of Oxford. It was part of the Scion school curriculum. Fires had destroyed the university in the autumn of 1859. What remained was classified as a Type A Restricted Sector. No one was allowed to set foot there for fear of some indefinable contamination. Scion had just wiped it from the maps.
“Welcome to Sheol I.”

One of the things that really stood out for me in The Bone Season was the fear generated around the clairvoyants who are being prosecuted for something they were born with. Paige and the others like her cannot help being born with their abilities but humans fear them and their powers. It is an aspect of The Bone Season that is really well written. There was a lot of background and history to take in in this first book of the series; the emergence of the Scion, the alternate history which brought clairvoyance into being, and the Rephaim and their overall purpose in Sheol I. Samantha Shannon introduced us to this world perfectly, not taking away from the character developments or the plot while still giving us enough information to understand Paige’s world.

The Bone Season is the start of a brilliant new series that has received so much praise and so many amazing reviews; all incredibly well deserved. I read the first two books back to back and with seven in the series I’ve got a long wait for the next one to come out.

What did you think of The Bone Season? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.

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