Thursday, 23 January 2014

Kim's Review : The Bone Season & JLF Meet the Author - Samantha Shannon

The most amazing book I've read in the last year or so. I picked it up, because Samantha Shannon was one of the authors invited to JLF 2014. When discussing the authors who were coming and possible books that we would like to pick up, Brajesh said that "The Bone Season" was rocking the online world since it was released in August 2013. (I've been quite busy for the last couple of months, so I haven't been spending too much time online)

I started reading it on 18th night and couldn't put it down until 5am, when I had to force myself to get some sleep, so I could absorb at least a little of the next days sessions. And on 19th night, I just stayed up, until I finished it and now I can't wait for the next book to be released.

Fortunately, Samantha has promised to be more J K Rowling and less George Martin in the releases of her six subsequent novels in the series and hopes to be able to release at least one a year, even though a film deal has been signed with her as creative consultant and she will be busy overlooking that too.

The Bone Season is an anachronistic, Dickensian, dystopian, steam punk, fantasy combination set in 2059. The heroine of the book is 19 year old clairvoyant Paige Mahoney. The setting of the tale begins in Seven Dials (in Covent Garden) in the criminal underworld of Scion London and later moves to the familiar, yet completely unrecognisable, dystopian Oxford.

23 year old Samantha, writes beautifully. The plot is multi-layered and complex. Characters are well fleshed out, except the ones she wants to keep us guessing about. The story hurtles forward at break neck speed. I could not read anything else for the next couple of days, because anything that I picked up, just seemed too slow in comparison.

Its really tough to review this book, without revealing too much of the story line, but I'll try to give you an initial glimpse.

In the year 2059, all clairvoyant behaviour is illegal and they are pushed out into the fringes of society. If caught, it mostly results in torture, imprisonment and death. However, there is an underground network, controlled by multiple mime-lords loosely grouped under an overseer which works almost like a crime syndicate, which hires clairvoyants and uses their abilities. Like seers who channel dead masters and paint masterpieces that are sold as long lost originals.

Paige's boss - Jaxon Hall - is one of the stronger mime-lords and has a passion for discovering new types of clairvoyancy and classifying them. Paige finds her place in this world and manages to exist in it, while keeping her "gifts/abilities" a secret from her father.

However a stressful chance encounter on a train, forces Paige to confront the extent of her power while turning her whole world upside down.

We are introduced to new breeds of super creatures - other worldly - called the Rephaim and they are an extremely important part of the story.

I'd rather not give away any more of the story line, as you need to read it and figure it out for yourself.

Bone Season for me is a combination of Harry Potter, the Hunger Games, Game of Thrones  and many other fantasy - epic favourites of mine. Samantha herself said that she is heavily influenced by Margaret Atwood.

The germination of the idea for this series she said, came from when she was interning in Covent Garden and walked around the Seven Dials area. There were a lot of interesting shops here, including those that sold crystal balls and other magical knick knacks. These shops set her creative juices and wild imagination racing, which is why the novels are partly set in this area.

A lot of the slang and terms used in the book, come from19th Century slang, including words like mollisher which later developed into gun moll.

The title "The Bone Season" is a combination of the French Bonne Season as in - The 'Good' Season and Bones which signify skeletons and death.

In her mind Paige and the other characters are dressed in Neo Victorian clothes. With Paige specifically in boyish clothes and a Page Boy hat.

The genesis of the current situation was the Solar Storm of 1859 during the Victorian era and the story is set in 2059 (200 years later) this is partly the cause for the anachronistic nature of the story.

For Samantha, (who is not yet 25), her story keeps evolving as she travels. For eg: She spent 6 months on the 1st draft of The Bone Season and then she visited Ireland, so she just had to include it in the book, so she added more to The Bone Season using the Cromwellian Conquest of Ireland as a take off point.

She hopes to include more locations in her future books and is going to keep us guessing about the motivations of some of the other character and the romantic parts of the story line

I'd heavily recommend this book to anyone 15 and above who is interested in fantasy, anachronistic, steampunk novels. you will not be disappointed. However if you hate having a tale left hanging, you may be better off waiting for her to complete the series before you start.

Rating : 5 / 5

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