Monday, May 26, 2014

The Bone Season (The Bone Season, #1) by Samantha Shannon

Title: The Bone Season: A Novel
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Fantasy/Dystopia/Paranormal
Format: Hardcover; 480 pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA; First Edition/First Printing edition (August 20, 2013)
ISBN-10: 1620401398
ISBN-13: 978-1620401392
Author's Website:
Notes: I own this one.

"Almost two centuries had passed since Scion arrived. It was established in response to a perceived threat to the empire. The epidemic, they called it—an epidemic of clairvoyance. The official date was 1901, when they pinned five terrible murders on Edward VII. They claimed the Bloody King had opened a door that could never be shut, that he’d brought the plague of clairvoyance upon the world, and that his followers were everywhere, breeding and killing, drawing their power from a source of great evil.

What followed was Scion, a republic built to destroy the sickness. Over the next fifty years it had become a voyant-hunting machine, with every major policy based around unnaturals. Murders were always committed by unnaturals. Random violence, theft, rape, arson—they all happened because of unnaturals. Over the years, the voyant syndicate had developed in the citadel, formed an organized underworld, and offered a haven for clairvoyants. Since then Scion had worked even harder to root us out."

While something happened nearly two hundred years ago, the truth of the matter has never been released to the general population. Paige Mahoney, a clairvoyant, has been working for the past three years for the Jaxon Hall, one of the mime lords of the syndicate. She's managed, with the help of the seven seals, as Jaxon's group of clairvoyants have come to be known, to avoid capture and detection. Unfortunately her luck has just run out and she's about to learn what is truly going on in the world. 

Because something did indeed happen nearly two hundred years ago--they came and began to carve out a place in our world for themselves...The Rephaim


This is the first book in what is rumored to be a seven part series. Ms. Shannon did an extraordinary job of creating a world that is unique yet easy to relate to and picture. The characters are believable had have a lot of depth to them. It's set in the future of an alternate version of our world. If anyone tells you this book is like any other, they're really grasping at threads. It's unique unto itself.

Reminiscent of the the witch hunts of old, clairvoyants are being hunted, but not killed. Every ten years, clairvoyants are harvested from the general population and sent to the Tower where they're held in inhumane conditions until the day of the next Bone Season comes. Not every clairvoyant survives their capture.
       “Why are they called Bone Seasons?” 
       He smiled. “Don’t know if you know, but bone used to mean ‘good,’ or ‘prosperous.’ From the French, bonne. You might still hear it on the streets. That’s why they named it: the Good Season, the Season of Prospect. They see it as collecting their reward, the great condition of their bargain with Scion. Of course, the humans see it differently. To them, bone just means that: bones. Starvation. Death. That’s why they call us bone-grubbers. Because we help lead people to their deaths.”

In the world Ms. Shannon has created there are seven known types of clairvoyants (aka voyants). There are soothsayers, mediums, sensors, augurs, guardians, furies and jumpers. Jaxon Hall,  Paige's mime-lord (think voyant crime lord), has a goal of having at least one of each of the different varieties of clairvoyants. Each of the voyants he employs has a rare talent which is unusual. No other mime-lord or mime-queen has such vastly gifted crew. The group Jaxon has assembled is known to all as the seven seals and rule the I-4 section known as Seven Dials. They make their money doing mime-crime which includes anything that can produce money from dealing directly with the spirits of the dead. Whether that be obtaining intelligence about someone, letting the dead spirit of a painter enter into someone to produce a masterpiece, or any of the shadier dealings you might imagine. Mollishers, as those who work for a mime-lord are called, are bound by contract to their mime-lord and in exchange for their loyalty and usefulness, they receive protection. But as Paige states, "Mime-lords expect payment for protection." Life outside the syndicate/mime-lords for a voyant isn't easy if not impossible. A clairvoyant's best chance for survival is to hook up with one.

Jaxon is not only unique among mime-lords for his talented crew, but also for his interest in the talents/gifts of clairvoyants. He even created a pamphlet called On the Merits of Unnaturalness which lists every major voyant type according to his research. (FYI--The author created a copy of the pamphlet for your perusing pleasure at the beginning of the book.) It's this slightly obsessive tendency that makes him stand out and the fact we don't learn a whole lot about him in this book makes me very curious about him. 

Paige is smart, loyal, and more kind hearted than most voyants. Perhaps it is because she joined the syndicate fresh out of school and hadn't had to struggle for a position that she never harden herself against the world. She is one of the rarest of clairvoyant, she's a dream-walker. She can walk the aether and detect people's auras surrounding her for quite a distance out. This allows her to sometimes identify who and what type of clairvoyant is around. As far as anyone knows, she's the only dream-walker in existence and that makes her extremely valuable. She has yet to learn the extent of her talent and what all she can do. When she disappears after accidentally killing two Underguards with her powers, Jaxon and the rest of the seven seals launch a major search for Paige. Paige meanwhile, finds out what is really going on behind the scene's of the Scion and learns the real reason clairvoyants are hunted and it isn't pretty.

The Scion, are the security of the amaurotics. Amaurotics, aka normal people, "were said by voyants to be afflicted with amaurosis, just as they said we were afflicted with clairvoyance." The security is divided into two divisions, the NVD--Nighttime Vigilance Division and the SVD--the Sunlight Vigilance Division. NVD sleeps during the day which is when SVD takes over. The NVD employs voyances who sign a 30 year contract with them. Upon completion of their contracts they are euthanized. NVD is allowed to be more brutal in their take-downs than their day time counterparts as the general public is less likely to see the darker side of their dealings at night. SVD, by the way, only employs amaurotics. While there is more to Scion than what is stated, the rest is kept secret from all who don't need to know.

The Rephaim are said to be human like beings from another world originally separated from ours by the aether. The frightening thing about them is not much is known about them. They have powers similar to those of voyants, but are perhaps more powerful. They descended upon our world nearly two hundred years ago with plans to take it over. They are behind the voyant round ups. After Paige's capture, she is transferred to Sheol I, the Rephaim's headquarters which is located in present day Oxford. That is where she is indoctrinated into the world of the Rephaim. The voyants are used to do their bidding and the Rephaim feed off their auras. If they're lucky, they'll reach the status of red jacket and their job will be to bring in more voyants. If they're not so lucky, they'll become performers or killed. One thing is clear, humans are seen as only slightly more intelligent than animals and are expected to perform in one way or another. Paige's future looks bleak as she becomes the property of a Rephaim who's never laid claim on a human before. Warden, as she is to call him, will be her keeper and her life is about to change as is her perception of the world.

I gave this one 5 out of 5 roses. It was fast paced with a lot of information packed in and a lot more to be learned and revealed in the next book. While I didn't feel like I'd been info dumped upon, a lot isn't explained until later in the book. This might throw some off and is the reason I explained so much in my review. If you have yet to read the book, be aware there is a Glossary of terms at the end, so if you're reading an eBook version you may wish to bookmark it before you start. I fell quickly into the story and became completely immersed. The characters were easy to identify with and become attached to. The world was masterfully crafted and easy to envision. It ended in a cliffhanger that makes me want the next book now. This is actually my second time reading this one and, if you know me, I don't normally do rereads. I have too really like a book to do so and when this came up as one of Nothing but Reading Challenges' book of the months, I decided to read it again and finally write a review.

While I have many questions about things in the book which will undoubtedly be answered in future books, I have one I wish someone could answer now. What does "Off the cot" mean? It was used several times and I'm guessing it is a fairly common expression in the UK, but I don't know what the translation is and neither did anyone else I asked.  Other than that this was a great book that I highly recommend. It is not like Hunger Games, Divergent, or any other of the books that have come out. My status last week on Goodreads read, "Please stop saying a book is like The Hunger Games because it contains a strong female lead. Please stop saying a book is like Harry Potter because it contains a magical element. Please stop saying a book is like The Passage because it contains beings that take over individuals. Please just stop. Enough with all the lies. The links are too weak." This is one of the books that inspired that statement. 

Some pictures of Seven Dials (Yes, I'ts a real place): seven dials photo: Seven Dials IMG_0755.jpgseven dials photo: Neal's Yard, Seven Dials, Covent Garden 12-2.jpgseven dials photo: Neal\'s Salad Yard, oasis near Seven Dials nealssaladyard.jpg

Pictures of Oxford: oxford photo: Oxford 9 IMG_0712.jpgoxford photo: Oxford 7 IMG_0718.jpgoxford photo: oxford DSC_1302_526F672C_zps5ffa5362.jpgoxford photo: iron gate to college courtyard, Oxford collegegatetocourtyard.jpg
Carfax Tower: oxford tom tower photo: Oxford DSCF0463.jpg Tom Tower:
  tom tower oxford photo: Tom Tower/oxford christ church college OxfordchristTomTower.jpg

Trafalgar Square pictures :trafalgar square photo:  IMG_1896.jpgtrafalgar square photo: Lions at Trafalgar Square SAM_0411.jpgtrafalgar square photo:  DSC_0020-2.jpgtrafalgar square photo: Day Four: Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery DSCN2695.jpgtrafalgar square photo: Trafalgar Square London201107195.jpg photo ceb90825-1e02-4625-90ce-46a6054b1c74_zps4a8f697f.jpgtrafalgar square photo: trafalgar 7327_792207647394_3315066_45573972_.jpgtrafalgar square photo:  2-15-08023.jpgtrafalgar square photo: trafalgar square IMG_1060.jpg
*** Please note: The above photos were found on Photobucket in the shared pictures area. They are not mine.

Notes to keep you in the know:
Rephaim (according to the Bible Hub) are " the shades or spirits of the departed, dwelling in Sheol or Hades, generally rendered in our version, "the dead" ("dead things," Job 26:5); Psalm 88:10; Proverbs 2:18; 21:16, etc." (Information found at )
Youngs Literal Bible is the only version of the bible for which I could find any references to Rephaim. Reference in Psalm 88:10: 
"To the dead dost Thou do wonders? Do Rephaim rise? do they thank Thee? Selah."
Reference in Proverbs 21:16
"A man who is wandering from the way of understanding, In an assembly of Rephaim resteth."
There is also mention of them with bible verses quoted in Jewish Views of the Afterlife by Simcha Paull Raphael on page 55.
Sheol "She'ol (/ˈʃiːoʊl/ shee-ohl or /ˈʃiːəl/ shee-əl; Hebrew שְׁאוֹל Šʾôl), translated as "grave", "pit", or "abode of the dead", is the underworld of the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible. It is a place of darkness to which all the dead go, both the righteous and the unrighteous, regardless of the moral choices made in life, a place of stillness and darkness cut off from God.[1]

The inhabitants of Sheol were the "shades" (rephaim), entities without personality or strength.[2] Under some circumstances they could be contacted by the living, as the Witch of Endor contacts the shade of Samuel for Saul, but such practices are forbidden (Deuteronomy 18:10).[3] While the Old Testament writings describe Sheol as the permanent place of the dead, in the Second Temple period (roughly 500 BCE-70 CE) a more diverse set of ideas developed: in some texts, Sheol is the home of both the righteous and the wicked, separated into respective compartments; in others, it was a place of punishment, meant for the wicked dead alone.[4] When the Hebrew scriptures were translated into Greek in ancient Alexandria around 200 BC the word "Hades" (the Greek underworld) was substituted for Sheol, and this is reflected in the New Testament where Hades is both the underworld of the dead and the personification of the evil it represents.[5]" (Information found at )

L'Inconnue de la Seine was mentioned  in the book and is a piece of artwork (if you can call it that) that made its way into homes in the 1900s. Rumored to be the death mask created by a pathologist who was intrigued by a young woman who was pulled out of Seine, he decided to immortalize her profile.     Here is a picture of it . The picture was found in wikipedia commons and is reportedly no longer under copyright: 
Wonder where idea the cover came from?
FYI, the Rephaim symbol, created for the fictional beings, was inspired, according to Sammantha Shannon on Pinterest, "by an ancient Nigerian language system called Nsibidi. The glyph which provided the basis for the anchor, 'ójȯ', conveys fear." Here's a link to see more of her posts on the book,

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