Book: The Mime Order (The Bone Season #2)
Author: Samantha Shannon
I wasn’t intending on picking up this one so soon after I read the last one, but when I was almost done with The Bone Season, I had a doctor’s appointment that I knew I would be waiting a while for and I didn’t have another book, so like a typical bookworm, I stopped by Waterstones en route to my appointment in order to make sure I had enough material for the long wait! I then put it down for a week whilst I read my July #RockMyTBR book, but luckily it wasn’t too difficult to get re-engrossed in the story and Shannon’s dystopic/fantasy world. I liked this one much better than it’s predecessor, it was easier to become immersed in the world as I understood more of the terms that had confused me in the first book, I wasn’t flipping back to the glossary the whole time (in fact I hardly used it, but it is there for anyone who is still confused about all the different clairvoyant terms), I found the Syndicate politics a lot more gripping than I’d found the penal colony of the Rephaim in the first book, the secondary characters were more fleshed out than they were in The Bone Season and the world building was definitely much improved from the first book. Here is a short synopsis of the book:
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. 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.
The Mime Order picks up right where The Bone Season left off, we’re thrown straight back into the action after a short, sort of prologue I guess from Paige, it’s a good, gripping opening, but it might be worth reading a recap of the first book or doing a reread before reading this one as you are thrown straight back into the action.
It was good to see Paige being affected by what happened to her in Sheol I, it was a traumatic experience and it would have been unrealistic for her not to have been affected by it at all. I loved her development in this, she grows so much from the person she was in The Bone Season, her gift has grown considerably, she’s reckless and doesn’t always make the smartest decisions, but she’s a fierce friend and will do whatever she has to in order to change the syndicate and make sure that word about the Rephaim gets out. I liked that she didn’t feel like the super strong, super perfect heroine, she doesn’t get things right all the time and she’s kind of a reluctant heroine and this makes her all the more relatable and easy to root for.
I liked that we got to find out exactly how the others knew she was in Sheol I in the last book because that had been bugging me for a while!
The pacing was again quite slow, but I found that actually worked for this book. It was more of a mystery than the first one, so a fast paced action packed story wouldn’t really have worked (though there are definitely some great action sequences throughout), it was better to have the slow unfurling of the plot. At first I was worried as to how all the different pieces would fit together (the Rephaim, the challenge for Underlord/queen, the Rag and Bone Man etc) but it all slotted together very wonderfully in the end. The first part is definitely the slowest, things start to pick up in the second half and the third half moves at pretty breakneck speed.
I loved that this book focused more on the Syndicate, it was so great to get to see all of the dirty criminal goings on and the politics and different gangs and everything, I found that so much more interesting than the plot with the Rephaim from the last book. We finally got to see Paige properly interact with the Seals, and find out more about them so they feel like more fleshed out people in this book which was awesome. I loved seeing her friendship with Nick as well, it’s so nice to see platonic m/f friendships, although it would be nice if authors could recognise that you can have platonic m/f friendships between straight men and women, it doesn’t have to be that the only reason for the relationship being platonic is that one of them is gay, like can we have gay rep and platonic m/f friendships please? I found Nick’s new relationship with Zeke really cute and look forward to seeing where it goes in the next book particularly as the ending had some pretty big implications for them.
It was so interesting to finally see Paige interact with Jaxon properly, they have a kind of puppet/puppet master relationship, but they’re both kind of pulling each other’s strings if that makes sense? It’s quite complicated because Paige owes a lot to Jax and yet she knows how cruel he is and doesn’t want to be under his thumb anymore, and despite his flaws, it’s clear that Jax does in some way care for Paige, so it’s a very interesting dynamic that the two of them have and I look forward to seeing more of it in the next book.
I loved the setting, Shannon’s version of London is a grimy, gritty, dark criminal underworld and it’s an awesome backdrop for this tale. I love it when authors use settings that I am familiar with, because even though Shannon’s London is a future one, it still employs settings that I know, such as Camden where a lot of the book is based.
The mystery of who murdered the Underlord (not really a spoiler, it happens early in the book), was pretty gripping, but then it morphs into a load of other mysteries about the Syndicate and Scion and it was all so twisted and corrupt, it was awesome! The stakes definitely felt much higher in this one, what with the challenge for Underlord/queen and Paige being wanted by Scion, I really felt for Paige as she was constantly worried about getting caught and wanting to keep a low profile but also wanting to get the word about the Rephaim out there.
Total aside, but there was a bibliomancer in this, a voyant who uses spirits in order to find books to publish and I would totally love to be that voyant! The voyants and their powers are all so cool, it was great to see more than just Paige’s voyant powers in this book and to learn more about the different types of voyants in the syndicate. The world in general felt a lot more developed in this and I feel like I understand much better now how Paige’s London works and how it and clairvoyancy came to be, it was great to see Shannon stepping it up in that respect. There are quite a lot of different types of voyants, but it’s easy enough to keep track, with the orders of clairvoyants at the back of the book.
The chapters were still perhaps a little overlong, but in general, aside from a few typos, I felt like Shannon’s writing flowed a lot better in this book than it did in the previous one. I loved that the chapters were named, it’s an extra detail that I really appreciate!
I’m still not totally invested with Paige’s romance with Warden, I don’t know if it’s just that I can’t get on board with the whole slave/master romance thing (I know she’s free now, but she was for all intents and purposes his slave) or if it’s the fact that Warden doesn’t really have much of a personality to speak of, but they don’t make me swoon. Warden just doesn’t really do anything for me, he feels really blank and I know that’s part of the Rephaite character but I’d love it if he had a bit more of a character than just being morally dubious.
I loved the maps at the front, I think all fantasy books should have maps, it makes it so much easier to envisage the world!
There were several great twists throughout the book, most of which I didn’t see coming, which I loved!
The scrimmage was so exciting, it was basically two whole chapters of pure action and I loved it, it was all these voyants in the same ring, using their voyant powers which was really awesome! I don’t want to spoil the ending of the fight for you guys, so all I can say is that it’s really cool. It did feel like it took a long time to get there though, we found out about it pretty early on but it only happened in the last part.
THAT ENDING! I did not see it coming and I have so many questions! It’s set up for a very exciting book three and I can’t wait to see where Paige and the others go from here, as I still have a lot of questions from this book which I need answers to!
This was a great second book, the slower pace actually worked for it this time, the focus on the Syndicate rather than the Rephaim made it much more interesting, the slightly dodgy romance from the first book took a back seat, there were some awesome twists, the writing was more smooth, the world and characters were better developed, it was miles better than the first book. I was a little iffy going into this one but I’m now really excited for book three!
My rating: 4/5
My next review will be of my August #RockMyTBR read, Six of Crows.