Monday, July 29, 2013

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

The Bone Season is set on an alternate Earth. It’s a cross between fantasy and dystopia. Clairvoyants – people in tune with the aether and sentient spirits who have not gone on – are not supposed to exist. If someone is found to be a voyant, they are captured and sent to prison.  And some of them are taken to a place called Sheol I, formerly known as Oxford. Sheol I is ruled by a race called the Rephaim. They are not human, and they take the human voyants as slaves. The implication is that this for the humans’ own good, but in essence it is human trafficking. 

If indeed The Bone Season is the first in a seven-book series, it’s an ambitious project. The author clearly has a terrific imagination and has done a good job of world-building. The book includes a helpful glossary, something I wish more fantasy novels would include. 

There are a lot of characters in The Bone Season, and I had a hard time keeping them straight, especially the alien Rephaim.  The author spins out her world at a good pace, filling in Paige’s background while describing her life in Sheol I.  

The author's publishers do her no favor by comparing her to J.K. Rowling (because the series is also planned as seven books). I can think of books the plot reminds me of - The Hunger Games, Divergent, Pure - but the Harry Potter series is not among them. The Harry Potter books are full of joy and humor; The Bone Season is pretty much joyless and humorless. 

That’s not to say it’s not well written. It is. But it’s not genius, just a pretty good debut fantasy.  I’ll read book 2, although I’m not feeling any anxiety to get my hands on it now.  If you enjoy epic fantasy, I definitely recommend taking a look at The Bone Season. It is getting a lot of buzz and the movie rights have been optioned.

I read an Advance Reader Copy of The Bone Season. It will be published in late August.



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