The Bone Season

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The Bone Season
First edition hardcover
Author Samantha Shannon
Language English
Genre Dystopian
Publisher Bloomsbury (UK, USA)
Published in English
20 August 2013
Media type Print, e-book, audiobook
Pages 480 pages
ISBN 1620401398
OCLC 814301490
LC Class PR6119.H365B66 2013
Followed by The Mime Order

The Bone Season is a supernatural dystopian novel by British writer Samantha Shannon and is her debut novel.[1] The novel was published on 20 August 2013 by Bloomsbury Publishing and is the first of a seven book series.[2] Film rights to Bone Season have been sold to Andy Serkis's Imaginarium Studios.[3] The Bone Season was also named the first book in NBC's Today show's monthly book club.[4]

Of the novel, Shannon stated that she wondered what would happen if "dystopia dealt with the supernatural" and if there were a second Salem Witch Trials.[5]


The Bone Season is set in 2059 and follows nineteen-year-old Paige Mahoney. Paige is a clairvoyant called a dreamwalker, capable of moving in and out of the minds of other people. She is later attacked and kidnapped, then taken to Oxford, which has been kept secret for two hundred years. It's there that she meets the Rephaite Warden and is drawn to him despite being frightened by him.[6]


Shannon began writing The Bone Season while working for book agent David Godwin and attending St Anne's College, Oxford.[7] She had started working for Godwin when he offered her an internship after he declined her earlier novel Aurora.[1] After some time looking over manuscripts and gaining experience in the book business, Shannon came up with the premise for The Bone Season.[1] Shannon imagined "a girl, having the exact same day at work that I was, but she happened to be clairvoyant" and began planning the novel while on her lunch break.[8] She began using the environment of St Anne's College and the overall University of Oxford architecture and landscaping as an inspiration for the novel's Sheol I penal colony setting. An interviewer noted that Oxford has many "impossibly neat, manicured lawns and well-tended buildings that act as a kind of tree-ring-dating window onto Britain's architectural past (and present)."[1] Shannon came up with the idea of a shanty town in between the colleges as a way of "juxtaposing the squalor the humans were forced to live in and the grand colleges where The Rephaim live on either side."[9]


Prior to the release of The Bone Season the book was compared to J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series and Shannon was often referred to as "the next J.K. Rowling".[10] Newspapers drew comparisons due to Shannon signing with the same UK publisher as Rowling did for her Harry Potter series and due to both series comprising seven novels.[11] However Atlantic Wire reporter John Arit commented that the "steady drumbeat of press ... has led to comparisons to nearly every mainstream female fantasy and sci-fi novelist with name recognition".[12]

Critical reception for the book has been mostly positive.[13][14][15] USA Today commented upon a similarity to the Harry Potter novels in their positive review for The Bone Season, opining that the book's premise was "awfully familiar in certain aspects" to the aforementioned series while also stating that it had "fresh ideas, excellent original concepts and, best of all, an impressive new voice for fantasy literature."[16] NPR also noted the same comparison, but remarked that it was more similar to The Hunger Games than the Potter series.[7] The Telegraph's review also mentioned that the book was similar to The Hunger Games and commented that the plot would be familiar to fantasy readers but that Shannon "shows real skill in combining them so easily into an original and enjoyably escapist fictional world."[17]


A sequel, The Mime Order was released on January 27, 2015.


  1. ^ a b c d Hjelmgaard, Kim (19 August 2013). "Shannon emerges from 'Oxford bubble' with 'Bone Season'". USA Today. Retrieved 20 August 2013. 
  2. ^ "‘Hobbit’s Andy Serkis Plots ‘The Bone Season’ And ‘Animal Farm’ Remake". Deadline. Retrieved 13 November 2012. 
  3. ^ "Student author sells film rights". Oxford Student. Retrieved 13 November 2012. 
  4. ^ "‘Today’ To Launch Monthly Book Club With ‘The Bone Season’: Report". Deadline. Retrieved 20 August 2013. 
  5. ^ "SPOILED: SAMANTHA SHANNON'S THE BONE SEASON". RT Book Reviews. Retrieved 13 November 2012. 
  6. ^ Williams, Charlotte. "Seven-book fantasy series for Bloomsbury". The Bookseller. Retrieved 13 November 2012. 
  7. ^ a b Ciabattari, Jane. "'The Bone Season': Could This Be The Next Harry Potter? Maybe!". NPR. Retrieved 20 August 2013. 
  8. ^ Egan, Elisabeth. "First Fiction 2013: Welcome To the Future - Samantha Shannon". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 21 August 2013. 
  9. ^ Gilyeat, Dave (20 August 2013). "The Bone Season: Samantha Shannon on her novel's Oxford inspirations". BBC. Retrieved 21 August 2013. 
  10. ^ Driscoll, Molly (August 20, 2013). "'The Bone Season': the new book earning 'Harry Potter' comparisons". CS Monitor. Retrieved 21 August 2013. 
  11. ^ Hjelmgaard, Kim (August 19, 2013). "Is Samantha Shannon the next J.K. Rowling?". USA Today. Retrieved 21 August 2013. 
  12. ^ Arit, John (Aug 19, 2013). "Buzz Builds for Samantha Shannon's 'The Bone Season'". Atlantic Wire. Retrieved 21 August 2013. 
  13. ^ Lee, Stephan (9 August 2013). "BOOK REVIEW The Bone Season". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 21 August 2013. 
  14. ^ "Book review: The Bone Season". DNA India. 2013-08-18. Retrieved 21 August 2013. 
  15. ^ "Review: The Bone Season". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 21 August 2013. 
  16. ^ Truitt, Bryan (19 August 2013). "'Bone Season' unearths a fresh fantasy voice in Samantha Shannon". USA Today. Retrieved 20 August 2013. 
  17. ^ Brown, Helen (10 Aug 2013). "The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon, review". The Telegraph. London. Retrieved 21 August 2013. 

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