If you like: magical abilities * ectoplasm * secret societies
In The Bone Season, Paige is a clairvoyant who can walk in the dreamscapes of others. For centuries clairvoyance has been outlawed, and those with the abilities must either live hidden, often aided by secret mob-like groups, or be detained and likely executed. Paige is part of an elite voyant syndicate, and her ability is a rare power among her kind. One night, she is apprehended and taken to a voyant prison camp. She discovers it is run by a race of powerful beings who feed on voyant energy and are allowed to thrive in their secret camp under the guise of protecting humans from other creatures that exist in the aether.
At first, The Bone Season appears to be a story about a ostracized subset of society working to overcome the government and achieve freedom. Groups of outsiders coming together to gain power and strength in the hopes of building a force strong enough to lead a revolt. The typical propaganda is deployed, showing the voyants as inhuman creatures that must be feared -- a new perversion created by modern society. Instead, we learn that clairvoyant abilities allow people to tap into the aether and interact with power beyond themselves, this power is not inherently good or evil. Paige sees that this militarized state is only a front for the Rephaim to collect those who will help them to thrive. The Rephaim force their human prisoners to use the aether to act as the first line of defense from the threat of Emim. Instead of training an army, they use the voyants as entertainment, and a never ending food supply. If they truly wanted to defeat the Emin, they would foster unity and build the skills of all who live in their camp. Instead they rely on brain washing and violent competition, pitting people against each other to obtain the limited resources and freedom within the camp. The voyants should be treated with the utmost value for their ability to defend others and enhance the world around them. Instead they are constantly hunted. The very power that could save the world is so feared by humans who lack it that they are willing to sacrifice it to not feel obsolete. The fear of change and evolution will always drive some to deny what they see, condemning it instead of embracing it.
The Bone Season is a story of survival. When using her ability, Paige puts her physical survival at risk. She must stop clinging to what is safe in order to achieve the great power she is capable of. The voyants must also try to survive in a world that is stacked against them. Having a foe that is far more advanced is difficult to thrive under. Each time they make progress, their enemies are able to come up with new ways to hold them down. Living in secret, each group fights to protect themselves instead of coming together to overtake the common enemy. It is only when the groups have achieved significant power that they see the advantage of coming together and fighting as one. Since they have been hidden for so long, this coming together makes them even more vulnerable. Knowing that an opportunity to strike such powerful forces may never come again makes their enemies seek to harm them all the more. More than anything, this story is about the survival of humanity when faced with a never before seen enemy. When a new, more powerful species appears, it is easy to see how people's first instinct is to believe what they say and hope they are benevolent. Once you have entered into a bargain with them it is all the harder to escape their clutches. Even when what they do seems evil, if they relieve you of a problem that scares you even more, it is even harder to see the danger they present.
If you put your trust in yourself, and fight to save your people, read The Bone Season.
Shannon, Samantha. The Bone Season: A Novel. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2013. Kindle Edition.