The Bone Season

  Samantha Shannon Jonathan Ball

Paige Mahoney is 19 and lives in London in the year 2059, and is a psychic, a “dreamwalker” who runs checks for one of London's vicious criminal gangs, under the leadership of a “meme-lord”. For this is an alternative World where psychics abound but are ruthlessly hunted down as a threat to society.

Forced to kill she is hunted down and arrested, but instead of being executed she is sent to Oxford, which was mysteriously destroyed by fire 200 years ago. Paige discovers to her horror that at that time a rift opened between universes and two different types of aliens came through. The one type,  Emin, are mindless flesh eating monsters and the other, Rephaim are tall handsome, cruel and uncaring. Psychics of all kinds are collected every 10 years, the bone seasons of the title, to be used in the war between the Rephaim and the Emin and their attrition rate is high. Paige's chance of survival do not look good, until she is taken under the wing of Warden Arcturus, blood consort of the leader Nashira.

From there onward the story tends to go downhill. The ending is more than a little mixed up, and the author at times leaves out too many details and at others overwhelms us with unnecessary information. Her fight scenes are laughable, and Paige is always getting beaten up, stabbed or shot and then she recovers almost overnight.

I could not decide is this was Psyberpunk, Science Fiction, Fantasy or a long term Gothic Love story. A quality editor would have slashed the unnecessary detail, pulled all the strings together and given us a quality first novel. As it is, it is a reasonably well written novel, but that is all.

2 ½ / 5


Apocalypse Now Now

  Charlie Human Random House Struik R190.00

As you can probably guess from the title this novel is set in south Africa and is also written by a South African. The frontispiece explains “now now” to non-South Africans, as common usage for something which has not yet happened and will happen at an unspecified time in the future.

This novel s set in the Cape and a fair part of it takes part in the drug ridden, gang-driven high schools of the Western cape. Baxter Zevcencko is not a nice person. He heads up a porn-selling high school syndicate and relentlessly torments his apparently mentally challenged older brother. He has very strange dreams which follow events which take place in the distant past and to top it all may be a serial killer, but even he is not sure about this.

Things come to a head when his girl friend is apparently kidnapped and he is suspected of killing her. He decides to investigate and the clues increasingly point to there being supernatural involvement.

He tries to investigate the increasingly bizarre landscape of Cape Town's supernatural underworld but cannot make any progress until he teams up with a “supernatural” bounty hunter, Jackie Ronin.

Into the mix comes Dr Kobus Basson who would like to admit Baxter to a psychiatric facility as he thinks that the dreams come from a deranged mind. But even Basson is not who he seems to be and really does not have Baxter's mental health in mind.

There is a roller-coaster ride through Baxter's dream world and the nightmare supernatural world and even Baxter's brother turns out not to be a challenged as he was assumed to be. At times this novel verges on the gory as monsters and wierdo's abound but I found it entertaining.

The descriptions of the gang world are frighteningly real and in the supernatural world the Apocalypse threatens. But in the end Baxter turns out to be not as nasty as he first seems to be.

It is really good to see that South African authors using South African settings are being published and accepted by SF readers. It's well written and the characters are believable and I look forward to more novels from this author.


Gail -