At just 28, UK native Samantha Shannon has already published a treasure trove of novels, and has fast become one of my favorite authors I’ve ever read. Her fantasy novels, from the Bone Season series to Priory of the Orange Tree, are incredible – layered, smart, and LGBT inclusive. Her talent for constructing these fantasy worlds with their own rich histories leaves me speechless at times. You’ll be left wanting more once you dive into what she’s published so far.
Probably most well known for her dystopian fantasy set in near future London, The Bone Season trilogy (soon to be a tetralogy with the coming release of The Mask Falling) follows the criminal voyant sector of Scion London in the year 2059. Protagonist Paige Mahoney, a dreamwalker – the highest order of clairvoyants – earns a meager living as a criminal, stealing into the minds of voyants around her. All that she’s ever known is shaken up when she’s kidnapped by a secret group known as the Rephaim, and the two subsequent books (The Mime Order and The Song Rising) follow her harrowing journey to protect the secret voyants of London, uncover the truth about Scion, and grapple with her ever increasing power.
Shannon threads an incredible story throughout the Bone Season series, layering characters and locations with such ease that you won’t want to put the books down. Read these if you enjoy a detailed world (complete with maps and glossary of unfamiliar words), or if you’re craving a well written fantasy novel that envelops you in the story. Shannon herself writes that she frequently uses imagery throughout the books from Victorian England, and the result is a beautiful tapestry full of color and life – the language of flowers, the waistcoats, the architecture, all woven together to leave you wistful and wanting more.
(Samantha Shannon also has a standalone prequel to The Bone Season titled “The Pale Dreamer”, which is currently FREE for download (as of 5/15/20) and available on Amazon Kindle)
The first book of Shannon’s that I read (slowly, and out loud with my fiancé over the course of a month) was The Priory of the Orange Tree, and I was instantly hooked. Being a self professed Harry Potter lover, I hadn’t allowed myself to open up to other fantasy novels like this one, but I am so glad that I did. This monolith of a book (848 pages!) has everything you could want from a fantasy novel – queendoms, enemy realms, dragons, a deadly plague (which is not ‘fantasy’ enough for all of us at the moment…). Best of all, Shannon writes in a way that makes you deeply care about every single character – and that’s quite a feat when you need a character index for the sheer number of them. In the beginning, there was a lot of flipping pages back and forth to orient myself to the locations, characters, and storyline, but my best advice is STICK WITH IT. This book is rich, and I found myself laughing out loud, weeping openly, and being a little heart sad when it was over.
Though the story follows many characters, the central plot follows Ead (a badass warrior) in her quest to serve Queen Sabran Berethnet against a mounting evil threatening their world. If you enjoy fantasy, LGBT characters, and immersing yourself in new worlds, this is the book for you.
Samantha Shannon is set to publish the fourth novel in The Bone Season series next year, and I anxiously await the day I can catch up with Paige Mahoney in her quest to save clairvoyants everywhere.
While we wait, go follow Shannon on Instagram (@say_shannon) where she celebrates other authors you might like – she has an entire highlight of book suggestions for her readers that span the gamut from witches and SciFi to historical LGBTQ.
Go check out this author’s works, you won’t regret it!