Paige Mahoney has a rare gift. She’s a “dreamwalker” who can enter people’s minds and make them do whatever she wants. Because of that, she’s captured by a secret society. Paige has to struggle to regain her freedom and protect the people she loves — along with all humankind.
What it’s about: This paranormal page-turner is set in England in 2059. It is the seemingly familiar story of the misfit — with unusual twists. Paige Mahoney’s supernatural abilities make her a threat to society. Her life is turned upside down when she’s targeted by a race of beings she didn’t know existed and brought to Oxford, a city everyone has been tricked into thinking was destroyed long ago. She must use all of her wiles to survive — and find a way to escape back to the world she knows and what she believes is safety.
The inspiration: Samantha Shannon started The Bone Season in 2011 while doing a publishing internship in London’s Seven Dials area, which features prominently in her book. “I envisioned a girl having the exact same day at work as I was — but she happened to be psychic.” Shannon says the book really came together when she merged that idea with one of a supernatural world set in Oxford. “A [dystopia] allows us to observe terror and catastrophe without actually being part of it, which is exhilarating,” she says.
Why we love it: The combination of the familiar (London, Oxford) and the wildly unfamiliar (supernatural, other beings) is captivating. Paige is a sharp-witted heroine who is also vulnerable. She develops a growing attachment to one of her captors, which builds an undercurrent of tension throughout the novel. “Paige has a knack for trusting the wrong people,” says Shannon, and part of the fun is trying to figure out exactly who is good and who is bad.
Talking points: Struggle, dystopian societies, class systems, freedom, family and friendship, love.
Behind the scenes: Shannon has been touted as the new J.K. Rowling or E.L. James, but she admits the hype freaks her out. “I shy away from the idea of a ‘next big name.’ Having said that, it’s been great to have so much interest in The Bone Season.”