Review: The Song Rising by Samantha Shannon

28260402Following a bloody battle against foes on every side, Paige Mahoney has risen to the dangerous position of Underqueen, ruling over London’s criminal population.

But, having turned her back on Jaxon Hall and with vengeful enemies still at large, the task of stabilizing the fractured underworld has never seemed so challenging.

Little does Paige know that her reign may be cut short by the introduction of Senshield, a deadly technology that spells doom for the clairvoyant community and the world as they know it . . .

31451267PLEASE NOTE This book is the third in a series, if you have not read The Bone Season or The Mime Order, please, please, please read them first. This post may contain unavoidable spoilers for the first two books. However, it should not contain spoilers for the third.

But how, Elou? How did you get your mits on The Song Rising, it’s not out for another month?! Well, dear reader, I am lucky enough to be an advocate for the series, meaning I get each book early for shouting-about-it-everywhere purposes.

You may have seen me shouting, loudly, on twitter and for good reason. I love this book. Starting where we were left at the end of The Mime OrderThe Song Rising leaps straight back into the action. Even though there has been quite a gap between the second and third installments, it’s like the series has never gone away, I was instantly transported back to Scion London and enveloped in Samantha Shannon’s world of clairvoyance, intrigue and somewhat intimidating paranormal beings.

Paige is, as ever, a strong protagonist not without her moments of weakness. I love Paige and I will love her until I am withered and tiny. All of the characters in these books are brilliantly well thought out, I love each new character. Even the ones I love to hate. Once more, we are introduced to new members of an already excellent cast. So much of the world in these characters is built through its characters that it’s so important for them to be exactly right. Spoiler alert: they are.

The stand out thing about this book is the departure from Scion London, seeing other parts of the UK was in equal parts exciting and intriguing. I’d long wanted to know what the rest of the country was doing while London was falling more and more under the heavy thumb of Scion and its not-at-all human helping hands. I was more than satisfied. Everything about the locales we visit in The Song Rising is great – I won’t say too much more because I am desperate not to spoil anything.

What I will talk about is my favourite part of the book. Everyone who has read The Bone Season and The Mime Order knows that the titles always appear in the books in some way. I love it when a book’s title is thrown into a book nonchalantly mid-sentence. Or not nonchalantly, the sentence in this book is not particularly nonchalant. It is my single favourite bit of the book. When I read it I squealed “She did the thing!” aloud. It’s the little things. You’re going to love this one.

I said in my last review that the writing had gotten even better with the second book and the same is true of the third. This series is going from twisty-turny strength to strength and it’s well worth the hype. This series is like nothing I have ever read before and I know that I could never in my wildest dreams have thought of this myself. I love books that catch me off guard. Of course, every book is predictable on some level (in a romance novel, you expect a romance and so on and so forth) but it’s the things that surprise you that matter the most. There are a fair few surprises in this book. Gut-wrenching, belly-churning surprises. I love it.

It’s a wonderful addition to the series and I can’t wait to see where it’ll lead. Things happen in this book that I wasn’t expecting, it managed to surprise me multiple times and I bow down to Samantha Shannon’s imagination. It’s a cracker. The wait may have been long but, boy, was it worth it. She can take all the time she needs. It is a privilege to be able to read her work.

Go buy this book. Pre-order it and receive super cool swag. (You have to love a book that comes with swag.) You know you want to.

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The Mime Order Blog Tour: If I were a voyant…

On this the 4th stop on The Mime Order’s UK blog tour, as I’ve already posted a review I decided to get creative.

If you’ve read The Bone Season, there is absolutely no way you’ve not thought, if only in passing, about what kind of a voyant you may have been were you thrust head-first into its pages. My own thoughts on the matter have been fleeting, first used as a gag for a video review on my somewhat defunct (but hopefully one day revivable) youtube channel, but as the publication date of hotly anticipated book #2, I decided it was high time I considered it seriously—and photographically.

My choice was to between two obvious options (three, if there were a type of voyant whose numa were twin lens reflex cameras, or box cameras, or any cameras): firstly, bibliomancy. I work in books, I spend most of my life reading books, I design them, I devour them. It would be all too easy for books to be my numa and I thought that might be too obvious a choice to make.

Secondly, cleidomancy (which you may have guessed if you saw a certain question and answer on twitter). Though obvious to almost everyone who knows me in person, you, dear reader, may be wondering why I made this choice and rightly so.

You who read this blog probably haven’t seen my wrists or the box which sits on one of the shelves in my room, waiting for a time when I have my own walls on which I can hang beautiful display frames. You would not have seen the equally beautiful leather-bound notebook I still have not dared to use for fear of ruining it. You might, if you follow one of my tumblr accounts, have noticed my obsession with a certain key-wielding series of video games. You will definitely have noticed my usernames on almost every social media platform ever and perhaps the other URL which brings you to this website.

I am obsessed with keys. I collect them, skeleton keys mostly (currently living in the aforementioned box). I love to imagine the doors they once opened and the rooms into which those doors led, and then the people who walked through those rooms; born, grown, lived, died. It makes sense, then, that if I were to commune with the spirits of the dead I would use one or more of my collection.

The key featured in these images, newly-probably-not-quite-coined bookography (expect more, I like it), is the first I ever purchased and the key that provided the shape for the tattoo on my right wrist. I remember vividly the day that I bought it, the smell of the shop (appropriately situated in Oxford), the long walk to another which sold masks after, the walk back to college and the impending A Level exam. It is my favourite.

So there you have it.

If I were a voyant, I would be a cleidomancer. A smoky-purple aura’d soothsayer, who has a penchant for top hats and deep purple–burgundy colours.

Hop along to Curiosity Killed the Bookworm tomorrow for your next stop! But before you go…

Competition time!

Enquiring minds would like to know what type of voyant you would be and why, in return I will endeavour, with the help of my camera and my partner in crime, to turn two lucky entrants into their voyant selves! Easy peasy!

How to enter

Leave a comment below with your chosen voyant type and why – do be creative! And remember to leave your name and twitter handle (or email) so that I can contact you!

What you win

A photoshoot with myself and Dress.Simple (at a time and date discussed with you by email later) in which we will transport you, using magic, into the world created by the brilliant Samantha Shannon.

Terms and conditions

  1. To enter you must be over 18 or have written permission of a parent or guardian (who will accompany you to the shoot should you win).
  2. You must be able to get to London or Oxford for the resulting photoshoot.
  3. You must be willing to have your image displayed online (via this website and my facebook photography page) and used by Bloomsbury* should they see fit.
  4. All entries need to be in by midnight (GMT) on 18th February 2015.
  5. Winners will be announced within a week of the closing date on this blog, twitter and facebook.
  6. If you do not respond within 48 hours of the initial winners announcement, another winner will be chosen.

Judging

There will be two winners, one chosen by me and the other chosen by a mystery judge, who will be announced 1st February in another Mime Order-related blog post. We will be picking our favourites so make ‘em good!

 If you want to buy The Mime Order it is available on the Bloomsbury website, Waterstones, Amazon and all good retailers! Happy reading!


 *Please note: this competition is not run by nor affiliated with Bloomsbury beyond being a stop on the blog tour, and will only run if more than 5 entries are received

Review: The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon

9781408857397

Paige Mahoney has escaped the brutal prison camp of Sheol I, but her problems have only just begun: many of the survivors are missing and she is the most wanted person in London…

As Scion turns its all-seeing eye on the dreamwalker, the mime-lords and mime-queens of the city’s gangs are invited to a rare meeting of the Unnatural Assembly. Jaxon Hall and his Seven Seals prepare to take centre stage, but there are bitter fault lines running through the clairvoyant community and dark secrets around every corner.

Then the Rephaim begin crawling out from the shadows. But where is Warden? Paige must keep moving, from Seven Dials to Grub Street to the secret catacombs of Camden, until the fate of the underworld can be decided.

Back in July, you might remember me being deliriously happy that I’d received the early sampler of The Mime Order; now, in October, I am completely and utterly ecstatic to have been able to get a hold of the uncorrected proof as part of Bloomsbury’s advocate scheme! Huzzah!

Before I get onto the actual book, I need to talk about how wonderfully packaged it was. As soon as it arrived, I posted this tweet showing off the beautifully drawn map of I -4 it had been wrapped in. This and a few more maps appear at the beginning of the book, as well as some other deliciously designed tid-bits which are placed throughout the novel. It is a beautiful object, even at the uncorrected proof stage. The map itself was printed on lovely paper too, and we all know how much I love paper.

Bloomsbury really put effort into this ARC and it was definitely worth it.

You may have seen various reaction tweets in the last hour or so of my reading. If not, you can see them here, here and here.

24 hours later, I stick to my guns. It is fan-bloody-tastic, brilliant and all sorts of other positive adjectives. The writing has gotten stronger and often left my heart pumping. When I said I was tense in that first tweet, I really meant it. Samantha Shannon is a queen when it comes to building apprehension and making it last, slowly blossoming outwards in the pit of your stomach. Even thinking about it now, my stomach does little flips and turns.

I had expected a lot of this book, even before I read the sampler – it’s a big series and as such, it has to deliver. It does not disappoint. In fact, I like it even more than its predecessor, The Bone Season, and I liked that book a lot. So much that I have been urging people to read it since before its release date and still do. I will be doing the same with The Mime Order.

It is notoriously difficult to pull off a sequel that is as good as the book that came before, let alone one which is better – it’s a fantastic achievement and I feel a readerly sense of pride.

We see a lot of character development, particularly of members of the Seven Seals who didn’t get much air-time in The Bone Season. Other returning characters offer gasp-inducing twists and have a lot more depth than I had anticipated. We are introduced to a lot of new characters, some in more detail than others and I have high hopes to see a lot more of them in book 3 (which I need, I know it’s not written yet but I need it, someone find me a time machine).

As I said when I talked about the sampler, we get a huge insight into voyant politics and this may be why I love the book so much. I love the voyant society and its workings, from penny dreadfuls and pamphlets to scrimmages and spirits. It is a society of change and intrigue and I can’t help but get sucked in by it.

I can’t go into much more detail without giving away spoilers so you’ll just have to take my word that it is fantastic; the plot is twisty, turny and mindbogglingly brilliant; the characters make me want to hug them, love them and keep them safe, and throttle them all at the same time; and the design is beautiful. You really need to buy this book when it comes out.

It is due for release on the 27th January 2015 and you can go to the Bloomsbury website to be notified when it is available, or alternatively you can preorder it from Waterstones!

The Mime Order – Advanced Preview

If you’re following my Twitter and it did not get lost in your beneath all of the inevitable post-World Cup tweets, you will have seen that I was fortunate enough to receive an early sampler of the sequel to Samantha Shannon’s bestseller The Bone Season, intriguingly named The Mime Order – a title which I am dying to discover the meaning of. I have concluded, upon reading said sampler, that January 2015 is too far away. I need that book. 

As you may have seen, the publication date was originally a more close and inviting October but to enable the production of the best book possible, it has been moved back to allow more time for the writing and editing stages. While sad, it promises to be a beautiful January.

If you want to learn more about voyant politics in SciLo, The Mime Order (at least the small portion that I have read) generously complies. I definitely have high hopes for the rest of the novel and am itching to know more about the different Mime-Lords and Mime-Queens – I have a very strong case of grabby hands.

Paige and the rest of the Seven Seals return on top form, and we are introduced to a host of new and intriguing characters. (Insert more grabby hands here.) I can’t wait to get to know them come January.

Even the sampler packs a punch with a twist which made me squeak – out loud – on a commuter train. I cannot imagine what excitement awaits but I am most definitely looking forward to it.

I am completely addicted to this series and intend to be for the duration and beyond. If you haven’t read The Bone Season, do so. Right now. If you have, you definitely need to pick up The Mime Order  when it is released in January. It is a book that already demands to be read.