Book Review: THE BONE SEASON NOVELLAS by Samantha Shannon

Title in white on blurred red flower radiating gold on navy
Genre: Fantasy/"epic dystopia"
Age Range: Adult

Over the past decade of this series being released, there have been several novellas released set in the same world as the books, following Paige’s journey across the years. Some have functioned as pre-order incentives, and others as bonus material to “bridge the waiting” between books.

Samantha Shannon has hinted that there are other novellas (one she hopes to do to bridge the wait until book 5), so there might be a “part two” post one day.


ON THE MERITS OF UNNATURALNESS

Star Rating: 3.5 stars
Series: #0.1
Book cover for ON THE MERITS OF UNNATURALNESS: title in red on beige

ON THE MERITS OF UNNATURALNESS is the pamphlet so often referred to in the books themselves, which was written as the pre-order incentive for the second book, THE MIME ORDER. You can find it on Goodreads here.

It was an interesting read – a LOT of world building, basically, as it outlines the various different types of clairvoyants in the world. You can really sense the snootiness of the “author” as they look down on certain types of clairvoyants for assorted reasons and decide who is the most powerful and which are trifling. It’s also obvious how much research Samantha Shannon did into different types of clairvoyance found in literature and traditions from around the world, full of lots of snippet about more bizarre practices you probably wouldn’t have heard of!

However, it’s not really got a narrative, and is basically an info-dump about the world, so it’s not a riveting read – more an interesting read that broadens the world for one familiar with the stories.


THE PALE DREAMER

Star Rating: 4 stars
Series: #0.5
the pale dreamer.jpg

This is a prequel novella/novelette currently found in the back of THE BONE SEASON paperback (or as an eBook.) It can be found on Goodreads here.

It is set a few years (I want to say three?) before THE BONE SEASON. I enjoyed it as much as THE BONE SEASON – in fact, I liked it a little more as I wasn’t so confused. It adds another layer to the world and fleshes out Paige’s history. From Paige’s POV, this novella is about her trying to prove she deserves her place in the Seven Dials. I think the timing is about six months after her arrival into their gang.

I loved the insight into the day-to-day work of the clairvoyance underground. This is everything from the tensions between gang to the danger from rivals and ghosts. It show both sides of the mime-gangs; the practical (rent/protection fees) and more magical (chasing and capturing ghosts). It’s definitely worth a read if you like THE BONE SEASON.


THE DAWN CHORUS

Star Rating: 3 stars
Series: #3.5
Book cover for THE DAWN CHORUS; title in yellow above an orange flower on brown

This novella is designed to bridge the gap between THE SONG RISING and THE MASK FALLING, to pad the wait between the two entries. It’s split timeline, following Paige recuperating in Paris after the events of SONG, but with flashbacks to her time in Sheol I (which occurs during the events of THE BONE SEASON)

I’ll be honest, I went into this unable to really remember anything about the previous entries in series. This meant I really struggled to follow what was happening. While there are hints at what happened, I had no idea where Paige and Warden’s relationship was, so couldn’t understand their dynamic.

It has all of Samantha Shannon’s customary deft writing and looks at the trauma following torture really well. I will re-read it during my re-read of whole series ahead of MASK, and hopefully that will make it easier for me to follow and so enjoy it more.


Read my reviews of other books by Samantha Shannon:

The Bone Season (this series):

Standalone:

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