6 Rated Books Book Reviews

Blog Tour Book Review & Giveaway: The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

The Bone SeasonTitle: The Bone Season

Author: Samantha Shannon

Genre: Fantasy, Speculative Fiction

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Publication Date: August 2013
Hardcover: 280 Pages

It is the year 2059. Several major world cities are under the control of a security force called Scion. Paige Mahoney works in the criminal underworld of Scion London, part of a secret cell known as the Seven Seals. The work she does is unusual: scouting for information by breaking into others’ minds. Paige is a dreamwalker, a rare kind of clairvoyant, and in this world, the voyants commit treason simply by breathing.

But when Paige is captured and arrested, she encounters a power more sinister even than Scion. The voyant prison is a separate city—Oxford, erased from the map two centuries ago and now controlled by a powerful, otherworldly race. These creatures, the Rephaim, value the voyants highly—as soldiers in their army.

Paige is assigned to a Rephaite keeper, Warden, who will be in charge of her care and training. He is her master. Her natural enemy. But if she wants to regain her freedom, Paige will have to learn something of his mind and his own mysterious motives.

The Bone Season introduces a compelling heroine—a young woman learning to harness her powers in a world where everything has been taken from her. It 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.

Stand alone or series: Book 1 in a 7 book series

How did I get this book: ARC from the Publisher

Format (e- or p-): Print ARC

Why did I read this book: The debut novel from a very young Oxford graduate author, the first in a Rowling-esque 7 book series, and already optioned for film by Andy Serkis (Lord of the Rings, y’all), The Bone Season has garnered an impressive amount of buzz. When we were approached to be a part of the official blog tour, I eagerly accepted with one burning question in my mind – could this book live up to the hype?


In 2059, the world is a very different, very dangerous place. Thankfully, Scion exists and controls that danger, its cities bearing the slogan “Welcome to Scion, no safer place.” Scion regulates every aspect of its citizens’ life, from travel, to education, to occupation. Most importantly, Scion protects humans from the very real terrorizing threat of voyants; clairvoyants, that is people with the ability to divine the future, or control and commune with spirits, or any order of other mysterious, magical, unnatural ability. Nineteen-year-old Paige Mahoney is one such illegal voyant, who has turned to a secret life of crime and joined one of London’s underground gangs of clairvoyants in order to stay alive. Paige isn’t just any old soothsayer or sybil, though – she’s an extremely rare, very powerful order of clairvoyant with the ability to “touch” and walk in other peoples’ dreamscapes (otherwise known as a dreamwalker). So, when Paige is discovered by Scion security forces, captured, and thrown into the Tower, she fears that she will be tortured before she is killed, another vanished voyant in Scion’s legacy.

Except… Paige isn’t killed. She and a group of other voyant prisoners (plus one regular human) are transported from London to the supposedly dead and contaminated city of Oxford, where they are enslaved by a race of creatures called Rephaim. It turns out that 200 years prior a hole was ripped in the aether (the realm of the spirit that voyants can see and access in various ways), and these superior alien creatures emerged and instituted themselves as Earth’s supposedly reluctant “guardians.” The Rephaim have set up Scion as a dummy government, and have been farming its cities every decade – in a reaping called “The Bone Season” – for promising voyants to enslave and conscript into a fight against the Emim (mindless, ravenous monsters who have also traveled through the void in space). Very quickly, Paige learns that the Rephaim are anything but benevolent protectors; they are terrifyingly cruel, bearing absolute power and no vulnerability. Yet, as enraged, frightened and defiant Paige may be, her only chance of survival is to follow the orders of her masters, including the Rephaim that has claimed her as his responsibility, the beautiful (and aptly named) Warden. And, as Paige learns more about the Rephaim and their plans for Paige’s singular ability as a dreamwalker, she also learns that not all Rephaim are the same – that Warden might not be her enemy.

I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that The Bone Season is one of the most hyped and highly anticipated books of 2013. With its young author being touted as the next J.K. Rowling, The Bone Season has a whole lot to live up to. And, as with any super-hyped book, I’m always curious but more than a little wary because it’s a very rare thing for a book to actually live up to all the preceding hype. The Bone Season, is… well, it’s ambitious. It’s very ambitious and impressive in its imaginative scope. I loved the intricate hierarchies of “voyants” and power structures of street gang lords versus their puppet Scion government, just as I was impressed with the portrayal of the extensive power that the Rephaim have over regular humans and voyants alike. Two of my favorite things about The Bone Season are its fantastic depiction of the different levels of clairvoyance, as well as the examination of enslavement and the trappings of power. I love the way that we learn slowly about the truth of the Rephaim and their presence on Earth, just as we learn more about the voyants (especially Paige) that embody the human spirit to challenge, to rebel, and to survive – both the persecuted by Scion, and their abusive Rephaim overlords.

Those praises about the more complex thematic and worldbuilding aspects said, The Bone Season doesn’t actually quite manage to pull it off a cohesive novel because there’s so MUCH going on. Just as I was impressed with the many levels of voyants (not to mention the extensive glossary, maps, and power flow chart), there were many puzzling things about this world that don’t quite add up, or feel half-developed and then elaborated upon wildly at random intervals (in other words, it’s hard to suspend disbelief). The Rephaim, for instance, are not just powerful otherworldly creatures who have traveled through a rift in space to Earth, proclaiming themselves as Earth’s reluctant protectors and saviors from a race of man-eating carnivorous monsters called Emim. No, the Rephaim are also beautiful creatures (conveniently human in appearance) with their own type of superspecial connection to the aether, and who can feed off of human clairvoyant auras (and, in a very Twilight-esque twist, anytime a Rephaim aura-feeds, their eyes change color from golden honey brown to blood red). Oh, and these Rephaim also can heal themselves by drinking human blood (this new skill is revealed about 200 pages into the book). Needless to say, while there are many interesting ideas in the book, it’s a little tough to swallow a dystopian science fiction future with clairvoyants AND ghosts and poltergeists AND cruel psychic-vampire creatures.

In truth The Bone Season is, at its heart, a paranormal-cum-dystopian novel in the vein of many YA novels on the market today. It plays with the mundane, standby tropes of this genre: there’s the SUPER HOT paranormal creature that takes interest in the young pretty human girl; young pretty human girl also happens to possess an exceptional, unique, unparalleled power on which the Destiny of Everything hinges; after a period of trust issues and tension, romantic shenanigans ensue (thoroughly PG-13 romantic entanglements, I might add). It actually feels very similar to Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone, with its feisty, special heroine, romantic overtones, imaginative world. But… lacking the same polish and writerly skill. That is to say, the writing is clunky and feels very much like a debut novelist’s first book. Infodumps about voyants and the Rephaim abound, with backstory and detail divulged in graceless, obvious ways (early in the book, for example, readers are entreated to a description of Paige when she is conveniently bored and pulls out her digital ID; we learn all the answers of Rephaim history in extensive point-blank Q&A sessions; and so on and so forth). The book is overlong, too; the overarching plot frequently lost in asides as Paige goes through her daily routine of anger and fear, alternately resenting yet needing to save/trust/inevitably falling for her smoking hot Rephaim keeper. (I don’t consider this a spoiler – it’s telegraphed from the beginning.)

So, my answer to the question posed at the beginning of this book (does The Bone Season live up to the hype) is a regretful no, though the book has some great ideas and an impressively ambitious agenda. Ultimately, I was entertained by The Bone Season and will likely return for book 2 (although, to be honest, I have no idea where this series will possibly go in a 7 – SEVEN! – book arc). Recommended, but with some reservations.

Notable Quotes/Parts: From Chapter 1:

I like to imagine there were more of us in the beginning. Not many, I suppose. But more than there are now.

We are the minority the world does not accept. Not outside of fantasy, and even that’s blacklisted. We look like everyone else. Sometimes we act like everyone else. In many ways, we are like everyone else. We are everywhere, on every street. We live in a way you might consider normal, provided you don’t look too hard.

Not all of us know what we are. Some of us die without ever knowing. Some of us know, and we never get caught. But we’re out there.

Trust me.

I had lived in that part of London that used to be called Islington since I was eight. I attended a private school for girls, leaving at sixteen to work. That was in the year 2056. AS 127, if you use the Scion calendar. It was expected of young men and women to scratch out a living wherever they could, which was usually behind a counter of one sort or another. There were plenty of jobs in the service industry. My father thought I would lead a simple life; that I was bright but unambitious, complacent with whatever work life threw at me.

My father, as usual, was wrong.

From the age of sixteen I had worked in the criminal underworld of Scion London—SciLo, as we called it on the streets. I worked among ruthless gangs of voyants, all willing to floor each other to survive. All part of a citadel-wide syndicate headed by the Underlord. Pushed to the edge of society, we were forced into crime to prosper. And so we became more hated. We made the stories true.

You can read the full excerpt online HERE

Rating: 6 – Good, recommended with reservations

Reading Next: Sorcery and Cecelia by Patricia C. Wrede & Caroline Stevermer



The Bone Season

We have ONE copy of The Bone Season up for grabs! The contest is open to everyone and will run until Sunday, September 1 at 12:01am (ET). To enter, use the form below! GOOD LUCK!

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Buy the Book:

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  • Ammy Belle
    August 26, 2013 at 8:16 am

    Hm … this book sounds like it will the first of a real gritty series. Right up my alley! Thanks for the review!

  • Ric
    August 26, 2013 at 8:39 am

    I’ve heard quite a lot about this now, even though it popped out from nowhere, but I’d really like to read this since I’ve heard quite a few different opinions now.

  • Danielle Nguyen
    August 26, 2013 at 9:05 am

    I think A Certain Slant of Light/Under the Light by Laura Whitcomb are my favorite YA paranormal books. I’m excited to read The Bone Season, mainly because of all the hype.

  • Katrina
    August 26, 2013 at 9:21 am

    I’m currently re-reading Fire by Kristin Cashore and really enjoying it. It doesn’t fit into the paranormal genre, but she can manipulate minds.

  • mary anne
    August 26, 2013 at 10:04 am

    I don’t know if it’s my favorite, but I remember reading “Forerunner” and “Forerunner Foray” by Andre Norton many years ago, and I LOVED those books as a teenager. Turned me onto SciFi, I think. Maybe they don’t quite fit into the paranormal category, but they sure have the “clairvoyant” angle covered. Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Darkover books, likewise.

  • Greg
    August 26, 2013 at 10:18 am

    This book arrived at the store just last week…. As the speculative fiction guy there I was blindsided by this thing that apparently the lit readers in the shop knew about it enough to be exited where I’d never heard of the thing.

  • Carl
    August 26, 2013 at 10:24 am

    I’m not aware of having read any books that feature specifically clairvoyance but I did like Stephen King’s ‘The Shining’. The young boy in that book has a sort of clairvoyant gift. Thank you for the giveaway.

  • Halley
    August 26, 2013 at 10:37 am

    I can not remember reading many books about clairvoyants, but I really enjoy Blue’s family in The Raven Boys by Maggie Steifvator.

  • Marie-Claude
    August 26, 2013 at 11:58 am

    I can’t remenber if I ever read a book with a clairvoyant…….but I’m always willing to try something new !!!!

  • superbwg
    August 26, 2013 at 12:27 pm

    I love the whole Tower and the Hive series by Anne McCaffery, especially the first two The Rowan and Damia about a family with various mental abilities.

  • Vanessa L
    August 26, 2013 at 12:56 pm

    For some reason your review made me think of Blade Runner. Although D.A.D.o. E.S. is not about clairvoyants. I’m a fan of Anne McCaffrey’s Pegasus series which leads into her Tower and the Hive series.

  • Anna
    August 26, 2013 at 1:03 pm

    I just recently finished listening to The Raven Boys by Maggie Steifvater, and I loved it completely!

  • Steven
    August 26, 2013 at 1:42 pm

    I too was hyped for The Bone Season, especially after reading the author was the “next” J.K. Rowling. I have yet to read the book and it seems that my skepticism was justified. Overall, I really enjoyed your honesty and the review was great. I don’t seem to be missing much, but I think I’ll give it a shot in the near future.

  • Morgan
    August 26, 2013 at 1:52 pm

    I’m still interested to read The Bone Season but I sometimes get overwhelmed with new and very detailed fantasy worlds, which this sounds like. Hope I can keep it all straight! Still sounds worth reading but it’s hard to live up to JKR.

  • Frida
    August 26, 2013 at 2:18 pm

    I don’t think I’ve ever read a book featuring clairvoyants, so The Bone Season would be my first. It really sounds like something I’d like, though. Thank you for the giveaway! 🙂

  • Nathanial
    August 26, 2013 at 2:26 pm

    I can’t think of any books about clairvoyance, but I absolutely love dystopia. One of my favorites is Joelle Charbonneau’s The Testing, though I have been reading Divergent lately.

  • Jaime
    August 26, 2013 at 2:29 pm

    I agree with this review 100%. I had a very hard time getting into this book because it was hard to see any characters through the haze of exposition and the writing could be tighter. So many types of voyant! So vaguely described! It was also overflowing with with tropes. However the novel picked up around p.300, which I was thankful for, and the world is interesting enough that I’d read the sequel. It can only improve. So basically, seconded.

  • Ginny
    August 26, 2013 at 2:48 pm

    Great review, I had some very similar thoughts when I read it. Interesting you should compare it to Daughter of Smoke and Bone, like some other reviewers I was reminded of Shadow and Bone.
    Still, I’m curious as to were it can go in seven books, so I’ll be sure to check out the sequel.

  • Katie
    August 26, 2013 at 3:10 pm

    I’m not sure why she’s being described as the next J.K. Rowling. I’ve heard a lot of that, but having not read the book (or the Harry Potter) series, I don’t see the comparison. Where is it?

    Also, my favorite would have to be The Reckoning by Kelley Armstrong.

  • Wyatt P.
    August 26, 2013 at 3:16 pm

    I can’t wait to get my hands on this one. Great review!

  • Tiffany Drew
    August 26, 2013 at 3:31 pm

    Hmm, I’m not sure if it qualifies but I did really love Slide by Jill Hathaway. This looks pretty great, thanks for the chance to win!

  • Justine
    August 26, 2013 at 4:38 pm

    Aw shucks, I was excited about this book because of the hype. As always, thank you for tempering my expectations. I haven’t read any books featuring clairvoyants, so I was hoping this would be my first, but now I’m not so sure.

  • Allison
    August 26, 2013 at 5:02 pm

    I don’t believe I’ve ever read any books about clairvoyants–I have read Nevermore, though, which has kinda the same idea though I can’t say I enjoyed it much. I would love to read this one, though!

  • Chris
    August 26, 2013 at 5:07 pm

    I read this about a month ago from netgalley and thought it was so so. It didn’t live up to the hype IMHO but that said I will read the next book because there were glimmers of a good story there.

  • Ashleigh Paige
    August 26, 2013 at 5:41 pm

    I get inordinately giddy when you or Ana read a book and come out with basically the same feelings I did. Great review, and you expressed a lot of things I wasn’t able to put into words in my own review. Had Shannon’s prose been more polished or the infodumping reduced by about seventy percent, this would have been a lot better and it wouldn’t have been such a struggle for me to read.

    The scene where Paige describes herself off her ID card in particular left me a little incredulous because I could hardly believe such a beginner’s way to describe a main character’s appearance went unchanged. I hope someone remarked on it during the editing process, but I’ll never know and it doesn’t really matter in the end. That scene was when I figured out what kind of book I was in for.

  • Hebe
    August 26, 2013 at 7:34 pm

    I haven’t read many books featuring clairvoyants, but Stephen King’s Dark Tower had, I think, some of them in there somewhere…:)

  • Lesley D
    August 26, 2013 at 7:44 pm

    Thanks for the review! I’m interested to read this one. Can’t remember any books I’ve read specifically about clairvoyants, but other commenters mentioned The Shining by Stephen King and Fire by Kristin Cashore, which are both books I liked.

  • Victoria Zumbrum
    August 26, 2013 at 8:15 pm

    I love Perception and Twilight. Thanks for the giveaway. I would love to read this book. SOunds very good.

  • Linda W
    August 26, 2013 at 8:47 pm

    Definitely The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater.

  • van p.
    August 26, 2013 at 9:03 pm

    I don’t think I’ve read any books that features clairevoyants before, The Bone Season is probably the first. I really enjoyed this book and the world that Shannon has created. I can’t wait for the sequel! Thanks for the giveaway!

  • DebraG
    August 26, 2013 at 9:06 pm

    I am not sure I have ever read a book with a clairvoyant. I think Jordan Castillo Price put one in her Vic and Jacob books.

  • Jillian T
    August 26, 2013 at 9:14 pm

    I really love Rosemary Clement-Moore’s “Texas Gothic” and her other books in this world. I’ve never seen the paranormal genre treated quite like she treats it.

  • erinf1
    August 26, 2013 at 11:41 pm

    I’d have to say the Odd Thomas series by Dean Koontz 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  • Devon
    August 26, 2013 at 11:44 pm

    I’ve heard a bit about this book, mostly towards the good end. I’m looking forward to reading it and putting my two cents in.

  • Lexi
    August 27, 2013 at 12:36 am

    I am not sure I have read a book with a clairvoyant in it, or at least, not recently enough to remember. I think there was one in one of The Tower and Hive books but it has been many years since I read them. Also, I am getting tired of the combination pretty immortal and special girl romance setup that seems to saturate YA these days (and love triangles, another thing I am over).

  • Rae Ru
    August 27, 2013 at 12:45 am

    I have to admit that the last book I’ve read with a clairvoyant in it was Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. Although only one of the characters might have fit the bill, the way he used his ability was just remarkable for me.

    I want to get in on all that hype too~!

  • Courtney
    August 27, 2013 at 3:32 am

    I’d say the Vampire Academy series.

  • Kit Robertson
    August 27, 2013 at 6:03 am

    The Bone Season would be my first Sci-fi book, so let’s hope!

  • Katrina T.
    August 27, 2013 at 9:59 am

    I’ve never read anything featuring clairvoyants, but I do love Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels series.

  • Joel
    August 27, 2013 at 1:04 pm

    Big D.N.F. for me. Nothing to hold my interest after 200 pages, and plenty to criticize. I found it incredibly dull and I can’t believe publishers are banking on *this* as the Next Big Thing.

  • Sharon
    August 27, 2013 at 3:41 pm

    I really can’t remember reading a book with clairvoyance as the theme before but I’m sure I must have at some time or other with all the books read over the years. Looking forward to this one though.

  • Andrea
    August 27, 2013 at 4:03 pm

    I’ve heard a lot about this book, so I really want to read it~~ The story seems so interesting and plus it’s my favorite genre! 😀

  • Andrea
    August 27, 2013 at 4:03 pm

    I’ve heard a lot about this book, so I really want to read it. The story seems so interesting and plus it’s my favorite genre! 🙂

  • Sam
    August 28, 2013 at 12:23 am

    Honestly, I don’t really know what my favorite book with clarevoyants would be though my favorite prophecy related story is always Firebringer by David Clement-Davies.

  • Mary Preston
    August 28, 2013 at 12:23 am

    I can’t ever remember reading a book about a clairvoyant. Fascinating though.

  • Chenise Jones
    August 28, 2013 at 2:22 pm

    I loved Texas Gothic by Rosemary Clement-Moore!

  • Serena
    August 28, 2013 at 2:35 pm

    I’m not sure I can remember any books I’ve read dealing specifically with clairvoyance…another commenter mentioned Fire by Kristen Cashore and that is one of my favorite YA fantasy stories currently, so I’ll go with that!

  • Becky C.
    August 28, 2013 at 3:32 pm

    My favorite is probably Vampire Academy. Loved that series!

  • Jpetroroy
    August 28, 2013 at 7:28 pm

    I love Kim Harrington’s Clarity.

  • Jacqueline
    August 28, 2013 at 8:15 pm

    I’ve read a few novels with clairvoyants, however I don’t have a favorite. I did enjoy The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater. The female main character has some clairvoyant abilities.

  • aranza
    August 29, 2013 at 12:01 am

    the Diviners is my favorite paranomal book 🙂

  • Kristin
    August 29, 2013 at 12:09 am

    I loved Daughter of Smoke and Bone.

  • Andrea Chettle
    August 29, 2013 at 8:36 am

    I really enjoyed “Unspoken” by Sarah Rees Brennan Re-reading it now before starting on the sequel “Untold”

  • Heather
    August 30, 2013 at 10:17 am

    I haven’t read a lot of paranormal/clairvoyant books, although this one does sound intriguing. I enjoy Maggie Stiefvater and Libba Bray.

  • Christina
    August 30, 2013 at 10:33 am

    I can’t think of a favorite clairvoyance book, I can’t think of any that I read that I enjoyed really though I do enjoy paranormal.

  • Fatma Shahin
    August 31, 2013 at 10:58 pm

    I have not really read any book featuring clairvoyants but I am really looking forward to The Bone Season (of course) and The Diviners by Libba Bray which I have heard fantastic things about!

  • Jill the OWL
    August 31, 2013 at 11:11 pm

    I’m thinking The Diviners!

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