There is much hype around Samantha Shannon’s debut novel, not least from the fact that it is the first in what promises to be an epic series with six projected successors already looming on the horizon. The first in the series is called The Bone Season.
The story is set in a dystopian future where whole cities are controlled by a centralised security force called Scion. Living in the cracks of this perfectly secure world is Paige, a girl whose very existence is illegal under the regime. Paige is a dreamwalker, and her speciality is breaking and entering people’s minds. Paige’s relatively stable is life is changed forever one day when she is kidnapped and taken to a hidden city. There she is held prisoner and forced to hone her skills in new ways and gradually, a young girl with a gift is transformed into a fully-fledged soldier in a clairvoyant army.
Shannon’s writing has all the hallmarks of a successful crossover between Adult and Young Adult fiction. The writing style is accessible yet evocative. The story has nods to London and Oxford that locals will recognise but the locales in the book breathe with their own sense of life. Overall the world feels complete and whole, and the sheer depth of imagination behind the book is impressive. This bodes well for what is projected to be an extensive body of work - seven novels is a lot of mileage to ask from a character and a world, but Shannon’s first instalment demonstrates a balance between completion and room for growth: a rare skill in such a young writer.
Samantha Shannon is studying English Language and Literature at St Anne’s College, Oxford. She was born in 1991 and brought up in west London.
The Bone Season was in the running for our 2013 First Book Award.
- Festival dates:
- 15–31 Aug 2020
- Programme launch:
- end of July