Bloomsbury, out August 20, 2013
Paige Mahoney discovers the unpalatable truth behind a world where psychic powers are outlawed…
The Bone Season is the first in a projected seven-book saga, but don’t let that put you off reading it: this works perfectly well as a standalone novel with the potential for sequels (there are a few unanswered questions seeded through the latter part of the book) although I suspect that most people will want to know what happens next to Paige and her friends once they reach the conclusion.
Shannon has created a spellbinding alternate reality: it’s 2059, and London is very different from the capital city we know in many respects. History has been on a different course for well over a century and a half, and anyone with any form of psychic power (and there are far more of those than you might expect) is hunted down, and can be sent to the Tower for execution. Our nineteen year old heroine came over from Ireland when she was younger, with her father working for the ruling Scion, apparently unaware of his daughter’s gifts. As we meet her, she’s working for a gang that wouldn’t be out of place in Dickensian London, even if their targets are vastly different. But it’s what happens to her when she’s captured that forms the bulk of the story…
There’s an assuredness about Shannon’s writing that makes you feel comfortable that she’s got a firm handle on the world she’s describing. Seemingly contradictory facts make sense by the end of the book, and it’s clear that there’s a much bigger picture than has even been properly hinted at. Comparisons are bound to be drawn with the Harry Potter series, but Shannon is aiming at an older readership which will appreciate some of the nuances of the changes she’s made to history. If you’ve enjoyed Anne Lyle’s Night’s Masque series (set in an alternate Elizabethan England), then you’re likely to find much to like about this.
Verdict: A very confident debut from a young novelist (she’s only 22!) set in an intriguing alternate England. 8/10